Maxed Out: A Couple Plays the Financial Blame Game


While this episode of Maxed Out was filmed many months before the recent slew of economic news, the home equity credit trouble the couple has in the show is connected to what's going on today: According to The New York Times, Americans owed about $593 billion in home equity loans in 2003, but the current related debt is $1.1 trillion. The couple in this Maxed Out, Rhonda and Les, make a combined income of $104,000 but they've used up their total $100,000 home equity credit line and don't have a penny in savings.

When financial guru Allison Griffiths asks the couple why they came to her for help, Rhonda doesn't skip a beat with her answer that "he spends too much," to which Les turned the pointed finger back around. Allison says the first problem to tackle is getting them to share responsibility for their shared debt. Find out how she helps them when you read more.

Allison discovers that $1,700 of Rhonda and Les's monthly income goes to big box purchases made in discount stores — their neighbor testifies, "If it's on sale, Les will buy it." Expenses for the three kids' activities come close that amount, ringing up at $1,600 a month. Allison puts the family on a purge-spending diet, gives them a plan to start an educational savings account for the kids, and advises them to stop playing the financial blame game.

At the rate they were paying down their home equity credit line, it would take 25 years and $108,000 in interest — which is about the amount of their mortgage! Rhonda and Les had no control over their income couldn't live within their means, but at the end of the show they're paying down their debt more quickly and saving with the monthly surplus they now have.

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