Less than two years ago the Cates turned to Clearpoint, a nonprofit consumer credit counseling agency, for help. It's taken sacrifice and hard work but now this couple and their four children are living what many consider the American dream.
For the first time Stefanie Cates and her kids live in a home they can call their own. She says they wake up every day and feel so blessed to have a home and stability for their children.
Just two short years ago the Cates lived paycheck to paycheck in a rented place they could barely afford.
Then they found the nonprofit credit counseling agency, Clearpoint, and counselor Juan Menendez. First Clearpoint and Mendendez put the Cates on a budget. Stephanie used a calendar to track all necessary expenses.
Next the couple tackled their poor credit score. They disputed errors and took second jobs to pay off old debts. The extra work paid off in the form of boosting their credit score 100 points.
They cut out the extras like eating out and cable television and Stefanie said she clipped every grocery coupon she could find. Two years after they started, the Cates crawled their way out of debt and saved several thousand dollars toward a down payment on a house.
United Way matched their down payment money via a program that helps low income families turn the fantasy of homeownership into reality.
The Cates tell us they are actually saving even more money now because their mortgage payment is less than what they use to spend on rent.