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CU helps mom avoid financial ruin
BILLINGS, Mont. (3/26/14)--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 March 24).

The riveting story grabbed the attention of the local media in Billings as well, as a full-length feature article was printed in the latest edition of the Yellowstone Valley Woman , which reaches about 80,000 people.

The misfortune for Kim Olivo began when her husband left her and her three children about 12 years ago. In addition to losing her husband, she also lost the job she held at a business the couple ran together.

Olivo would meet someone new after the divorce, but before the two could marry, the man died of cancer, leaving her and her children without the financial support a legal marriage might have provided. She was also left without the security of a job, as Olivo had left hers to take care of her sick fiancé.

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 (Mont.) FCU, with $108 million in assets, to take out a home equity loan. Remembering this, Olivo headed to Billings 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 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."
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