Credit Union Helps Montana Mom Avoid Financial Ruin

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A series of personal disasters had pushed one Montana woman out to the financial brink, before the work of a local credit union helped pull her back and put her back onto stable ground (Yellowstone Valley Woman).

Kim Olivo endured a heartbreaking divorce a dozen years ago when the father of her three children decided to part ways. This ended her two decades of helping him run their local family business.

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Photo from Yellowstone Valley Woman

After the divorce, this energetic single mom kept her longtime waitress job and acquired a new skill to help support her kids. Her sister funded the schooling that Kim needed to learn the art of faux-painting. She’s painted many homes for clients since and continues to do so. Without these skills, her strong work ethic and some help along the way, Kim couldn’t have paid her bills or even have kept her home. She found herself on road to financial ruin.

It came to a peak a few years back. Kim had met Tony a year after her divorce. The two enjoyed each other’s company so much they decided to tie the knot. Just four days before the two planned to marry in April of 2010, Tony died of cancer.

The couple had been engaged for well over a year, however, Kim was not yet Tony’s wife. Therefore, financially, she had no claim to what they had shared the past seven years.

Kim quit her waitressing job about two years before due to health issues. She maintained her and her children’s home and had continued to paint and clean houses for clientele. The downward spiral really started when, she says, “I quit working altogether six weeks before Tony died in order to take care of him.”

Not working added to the “financial mess” that began forming during the 2009 economic downturn. With no money coming in, Kim’s bills started to pile up.  “I lived credit card to credit card for about a year,” she recalls.

As the tragedies mounted in her life, meanwhile, so too did the unpaid bills, and the mother of three’s financial situation severely deteriorated. Olivo had amassed substantial credit card debt and, behind on mortgage payments, the bank threatened to foreclose on her house, forcing her to file for bankruptcy.

Back working a waitressing job she’d held in the past–in addition to painting and cleaning houses on nights and weekends–Olivo could not mend her hemorrhaging financial situation.

But her luck turned.

Before his passing, Olivo’s fiancé had called on Billings Federal Credit Union, to take out a home equity loan. Remembering this, Olivo headed to Billings FCU and attempted to secure a similar loan, which she hoped she could leverage for more affordable mortgage payments.

“I looked through Kim’s credit history and the only way I could help get her out of trouble was to call the credit card companies to see if they would settle for less,” Tina Lorenz, Billings FCU loan manager, told Yellowstone Valley Woman . “We could see what a worker Kim was and all she had been through. It was obvious her drive to do it was there, so we decided to give her a loan.”

Olivo secured the home equity loan, and used the funds to pay off her credit cards, in addition to a pickup truck that her fiancé’s family had allowed her to start paying off herself.

She then sold the truck, made some needed repairs on her home and, with a clean bill of financial health, was then able to begin putting money away instead of paying off credit card debt.

“Her credit improved and she was able to refinance the house with lower monthly payments, which allowed her to save,” Lorenz said.

Now, thanks to Billings FCU, Olivo’s credit has been repaired and she maintains a budget and a savings. She told Yellowstone she still waitresses, paints and cleans, but that she pays her bills now and puts away money.

“I work hard and I feel very blessed,” she said. “It’s such a relief.”

Portions of the article also appeared in News Now

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