On Debt Free in 30 I interview many debt experts, but I don’t often have the opportunity to speak with someone who has actually dealt directly with their own debt issues. We have conversations with clients every day, but it’s very rare that one wants to open up about their story and help others from one debtor to another.
My guest today is Dana Pharant. Dana operated a successful business that was doing more than a million dollars in sales. The business unfortunately experienced three major catastrophes, including a large customer stiffing her on the bill, and Dana turned to her personal credit to support her business. With more personal debt than she could handle, Dana reached out to the professionals at Hoyes Michalos in January 2012. We discussed her options with her and she decided to file a consumer proposal. Dana is pleased to report that in just a few months her consumer proposal will be paid in full.
Like most clients, Dana weighed her options before making the decision to file.
I’ll admit I was playing a bit of an ostrich game. I didn’t really want to face it.
Table of Contents
What’s Dana’s advice for people with a lot of debt?
Start by taking a hard look at the numbers. If you can’t repay the debts on your own, a consumer proposal may be the best solution.
How can you deal with the stress and the stigma of dealing with your debt?
Dana suggests that you realize that “it’s just money”. It’s a problem that needs to be solved, so think about it logically. Worrying about it won’t help, so Dana gave up the “need to make me wrong” mentality. Her positive mindset helped her move forward.
Dana has now sold her original business and works as a full-time coach. She helps clients channel their energy, emotional healing, business mindset, and spiritual peace. Many of her clients are entrepreneurs experiencing the same stresses that Dana previously faced.
The Hidden Benefit of Filing a Consumer Proposal
Dana mentioned on the show that while the consumer proposal eliminated her debts, it also allowed her to adopt a different approach to money. Instead of buying goods on credit and having to worry about how to pay the bill later (plus interest), she now pays cash (or debit) for everything. Now she doesn’t worry about high interest charges or where the money will come from to pay for her credit cards at the end of each month.
We’re both very committed to staying on the system that we have and accumulating wealth as opposed to accumulating debt
Resources Mentioned On The Show:
- Dana’s website and Facebook group
- Inner Dominatrix podcast (check out episodes 0, 3 & 9 to get a better idea about what her work is all about)
- Dana’s free self-help tool
FULL TRANSCRIPT show #134 with Dana Pharant
Doug Hoyes: On this show I interview a lot of experts about debt, but I don’t often have the chance to talk to someone who has actually dealt directly with debt problems. What’s it like to have more debt than you can handle? How can you deal with the emotional stress of having money problems? How can you decide what to do? Those questions and a lot more on today’s edition of Debt Free in 30, so let’s get started and meet my guest, who are you?
Dana Pharant: Hi Doug, so my name is Dana Pharant and I am in the last stages of my proposal.
Doug Hoyes: You are in a consumer proposal with Hoyes Michalos even as we speak. So, this is great because as I said in the intro we don’t often get the chance to talk to someone who is actually experiencing it. I bring on other experts, other trustees and we theoretically talk about well, here’s what it’s like. But you’re actually in it, you’re actually living in it. So, I wanted to have you on to get your perspectives on how the process works, not from a financial point of view but more from an emotional mindset point of view.
So, why don’t you start somewhere near the beginning, not with birth but, you know, somewhere near the beginning. What’s your background in terms of, you know, career, work whatever and more specifically how did you get into financial difficulty?
Dana Pharant: Yeah, you know, I talked about this story quite a bit because I find that people are really inspired by the transition of everything I went through. So, I had a massage supply outlet and over the course of the, what would it have been, it would have been about 12 years about at that point. So, over the course of the 12 years that I had that we had a number of things that went wrong, and things that we tried and we lost a lot of money. And so it was a gradual accumulation of mistakes that were costly, you know, like 50 to $75,000 mistakes. And this adds up over time, right? And we got to the point where we were about $350,000 in debt. We were bringing in about a million dollars in sales but when you have that much debt to service, and that was about $4,000 a month just in interest. So, it was getting to be unmanageable.
And January 2012, it was January, February, I reached out to your office and I said okay, well it looks like we’re going to need your services. And I sat down and I just had a conversation and I said what’s that going to look like? because I like to be prepared, I like to find out what is it going to look like, what do I need to get in place now to make this transition easier?
And we had hoped to be able to do just a proposal on just the credit cards to get that freed up and continue running the business. But unfortunately the universe or whatever had other plans for me. And within the space of 30 days we had three major catastrophes. We had customers that didn’t pay, our big customer so it was thousands of dollars, we had somebody break into our merchant account and steal thousands of dollars and then the merchant company was just it’s your breach, your problem and then on top of that our summer slowdown hit a month early.
So, there was just no way we were going to recover from that. And I knew at that point it was like okay, this is the only option is to go for a full out consumer proposal, put all the of the debt that I could of the business into that piece and find a way to, you know, to manage it and get out of that situation.
Doug Hoyes: Got you. And just from a technical point here, all of the debts that were included in the proposal were debts that you were personally responsible for obviously.
Dana Pharant: Yeah.
Doug Hoyes: That’s why it’s a consumer proposal. And your situation is not unlike what a lot of other people go through when they are, they own their own business or they’re self-employed, you can’t walk into the bank and say hey, can you loan me 10 million dollars please because of course they just laugh at you. So, what you end up doing is funding it yourself. Okay, I’ll use my credit cards to pay all my living expenses because I’m not able to take money out of the business because I’m trying to leave every dollar in there. And as a result, even though you’re operating a business you end up with personal debt.
So, let’s talk about then the, you know, what did that feel like then? So, you’re doing everything you can and this wasn’t some business that you started on Monday and by Tuesday you were in trouble, this was a business that had been going for a period of time, right? This was not some new thing and you were successful at it. I mean obviously it lasted for a period of time. But then as you say the universe conspired against you, you had a whole bunch of things go wrong at the same time.
What was the point then where you realized I’ve got to reach out? Was it, you know, was it a financial thing where you realized I just can’t keep all these bills going, was it more of an emotional thing? What was the trigger that actually caused you to make that phone call?
Dana Pharant: It was a hard look at the numbers. So, I had a business manager that was helping me run the operation and he cornered me and he’s like we have to talk. And I didn’t really want to face it; I’ll admit I was playing a bit of an ostrich game. I’m like yeah, no it’s all good, we’ll just ignore it and it’ll get better. And he said no, this is not good. We need to do something, we need to change this. And we looked at the numbers, you know, played with them, we said what else can we do? Because going through a consumer proposal really affects your credit rating. So, when you’re trying to run a business having no credit is a little bit detrimental.
And so, it was like well, I don’t really want to do this but is there another way? And we hashed out every option that we could. So, it was a matter of logistics, this is what was required if we were going to try to save it. And so, that was the route that we took.
Doug Hoyes: So you really were at the point where there was no other logical alternative. You tried everything else; there was nothing else you can do. So, from an emotional point of view then, from a stress point of view then, how does that feel?
Dana Pharant: And I want to back up and just kind of explain to your listeners that for me I have done a tremendous amount of internal work. So, by the time this hit I was not going through the emotional upset that most people would. And most people that I see would really look at this as being oh my god and over the top.
So, I was having gone through this process to the point where I wasn’t making myself wrong I was able to look at this very logically and just say it’s just money. And most people get caught up in that loop of like oh my god, it’s money, it’s big, it’s everything. And I can have a lot of space with it and say it’s just money. And so, when I needed to make steps and take action, I could look at it from what is the best course of action as opposed to how am I feeling about this? It was really quite amazing.
Doug Hoyes: Got you. It’s just money and that’s an area I guess that a lot of people don’t get to.
Dana Pharant: No.
Doug Hoyes: Because I mean as you said with respect to your credit rating well, when you do a consumer proposal your credit rating will not be as good as if you paid all your debts in full and had a million dollars in the bank. So, it doesn’t mean you’ll never borrow again for the rest of your life but it does mean there is a note on your credit report that says you did a consumer proposal. So, people, lenders will think twice before lending to you. They may ask for a bigger security deposit or down payment if you’re financing a car, something like that. They may charge you a little bit of a higher interest rate so there are implications.
But you were able to say to yourself yeah but it is just money. It’s not something that’s going to, you know, totally ruin my whole life, it’s just money. You are able to compartmentalize it I guess is what you were able to do.
Dana Pharant: Compartmentalize it and get, you know, having that inner work done where I gave up the need to make me wrong. And when you don’t look for, you know, how am I messed up, what’s wrong with me, then you can look at it that way. It’s just money, it’s not I made a mistake or I mucked up, it’s like okay this is where we’re at, this is the reality of it. Now where do we go from here?
Doug Hoyes: Gave up the need to make me wrong, that’s interesting. So, you made the comment that you had already done a bunch of work leading up to this, what advice would you give to someone who’s listening to this today who perhaps hasn’t been on the same journey that you’ve been on? Who is kind of confronting this for the first time and going uh oh, I have a problem here and I mean how do they get to the point where they and say it’s just money, what practical steps can someone take to deal with the stress of having a lot of debt?
Dana Pharant: Yeah and this is a lot of what I work with people now and so there’s a couple of things that I want to share with your listeners. The first is to imagine being able to take your energy, who are you are, and expand out to the size of the universe. And what this does is that it’s a way for you to stop taking on other people’s thoughts or emotions. And bear with me, I know this sounds slightly woo, woo, but it is very practical because when you pull in you make yourself very solid, like a wall. And when you expand out to the size of the universe you become spacious like the wind.
And what happens is that day-to-day we go along and we interact with other people and what’s up with them and that’s like posted notes. And so we come across and someone is depressed and if we’re solid that posted note sticks. And these posted notes just get piling up and piling up when you pull in. But if you expand out, all those posted notes can just drop off you. And so that’s the first thing is to detangle with what’s going on with everybody else because, you know, if you think about it there are how many people who are stressed about money in the world, there’s a lot.
Doug Hoyes: Pretty much everybody, yeah, that would be my answer.
Dana Pharant: And so, if you’ve got a trigger and it’s up and you’re like I’m feeling stressed about money, what happens is that every time you interact with someone else who’s stressed about money it magnifies your own stress. So, by letting yourself be lots of space and not taking on their stuff, now you can just deal with your tiny little piece of it as opposed to the entire globe.
Doug Hoyes: So is that an internal or external thing? So, if I’ve got a bunch of friends let’s say who are in the same situation as myself, they’ve got a whole bunch of debt or they have other problems, they’re going through marriage problems, they’re going through job problems, physical health problems whatever. Am I better off saying hey you know what, I don’t want to talk about that with you because you’re just kind of – well, we’re not detangling if we do that, I want to detangle from you and let’s not drag each other down.
Or is it the opposite? Is it don’t think about outside, think about inside think about how you’re thinking about it. Change the movie that’s playing in your head, don’t worry about other people. Is it an internal or an external thing that you’re describing?
Dana Pharant: What I’m describing is more of an internal process but it doesn’t hurt to follow up with that external, while you’re getting, while you’re building this muscle of not taking on other people’s stuff, when you’re developing that muscle it doesn’t hurt to, you know, just kind of like reduce the noise. Minimize the amount of time you spend with the people that you know are really big triggers for you. So, you know, those are two practical things that can go really well together.
Doug Hoyes: Got you, do both. Yeah, if I want to stop drinking, you know, Coke because it’s got too many calories, well don’t hang out with a lot of people who have Coke for lunch I guess. You know, until you’re at the point where you’re strong enough to say yeah, I think I’ll order the iced tea or the bottle of water or whatever.
So, okay so detangling I guess would be point number one. And yeah, you’re right, the way you describe it is kind of woo, woo but it really isn’t. What you just said there is actually quite practical. You’ve got an issue and, you know, how you think about it in your mind you got to do what works for you but ultimately the result is the same.
So, in terms of practical advice then detangling is one step and then perhaps not putting yourself in situations that are going to make it worse. Are there other things that either you did or that you would recommend to other people as next steps?
Dana Pharant: Absolutely. So, the other piece, because I talked about not making yourself wrong, and that requires you to change some of the internal programming in your brain. Because we have these automatic conditionings to look to where did I go wrong, what am I doing wrong or even just seeing something as detrimental to us.
And I take people through an energetic process to change the internal landscape. And again, this is for most people this is going to be quite woo, woo but it works. And so if you bear with me and you take and imagine being able to grab a hold of the energy of those judgments that you have about you and you imagine being able to pull them out. The brain is an incredible tool. So, imagine being able to pull them out and they just, you know, you grab all of your attachment to it and you imagine blasting it and you just eradicate it from your system.
That changes the programming in the brain. Now what I suggest to people is to, you know, it’s not like do this once and you’re forever cured, it’s a matter of digging through the layers of the judgment that you took on as a kid, from school, from the churches, from wherever and gradually loosen off all of that internal judgment and it creates more space. It’s kind of like we’re cleaning out the hording, the energetic and emotional hording that people do.
Doug Hoyes: And for you I mean that, yes it sounds woo, woo but there’s a lot of practicalities to that. So, what are your thoughts on things like positive affirmations because if I’m clearing out the bad stuff, well I’ve got to replace it with good stuff. Are you a believer in things like well, when I get up in the morning I say well, it’s going to be a good say as opposed to it’s going to be a bad day or is that, what are your thoughts on that?
Dana Pharant: I have mixed feelings on that. For some people they’re able to really utilize the positive affirmations. And for other people it actually creates a reverse effect. And what happens is that as you say the affirmation like today’s going to be a good day, for some people in the back of their minds pops this gremlin that starts telling you all the reasons why it’s going to be a crappy day. Oh it’s not going to be a good day because look at the weather and on and on and I’ve got to talk to my boss today and I got this going on and that’s why it’s not going to be a good day and before you know it, you’re feeling worse.
So you want to be aware of whether affirmations work for you or not. There are ways to play with it. I like for people who are not getting success with affirmations to spin it around to more of a question as opposed to a statement. Because when you make a statement that’s not true right now it’s really easy for your monkey mind to get in there and tell you why it’s not true. But when you make it into a question and you say I wonder why it’s so easy for me to have fun today? Now your brain has to go look for the reasons why that’s true.
Doug Hoyes: So you’re tricking yourself, maybe tricking is the wrong word but okay so let’s bring this back to debt then. I’ve got a whole bunch of debt, what question could I be asking myself? I’ll tell you the question I shouldn’t be asking myself, oh boy why is it so bad? That’s the exact opposite. What would be an example of a good question I could be asking myself?
Dana Pharant: Yeah, if we play with this format then it would be I wonder why it’s so easy for me to be relaxed about clearing this debt? Or I wonder why it’s so easy for me to feel comfortable with this? You know, we can play with it in those kinds of terms. It’s like that sense of wonder, if we step back into being a child, that 5-year-old child who’s out exploring and asks a lot of why questions. They’re like why is the sky blue and why does this do this? because they don’t know what the answers are and so they’re exploring. They have no preconceived idea about what the answer’s going to be and so they’re just asking this wondrous question.
Doug Hoyes: And by doing that you kind of lead yourself into the answer. So, okay so three more questions then. Question number one is there anything else in that process that you want to hit on for our listeners?
Dana Pharant: What I would suggest is to keep aware that, you know, these tools are great and you can totally use them on your own and to check the intensity. So, if you’re hitting on things that are as an intensity level. So, if you’re checking in and we say okay zero to 10 where does that sit, 10 being like max and zero being nothing.
If you’re hitting on things that are a seven, eight, nine, 10, that’s probably something that you want to work with someone to work through it because it gets difficult for you to be therapist and patient at the same time and have that objectivity and still work through it. So, you know, the lower stuff, all the small stuff absolutely, dig in there, do your own work, clear off the little stuff and then find an expert to help you through the bigger stuff.
Doug Hoyes: Well, so let’s talk about that then and obviously you’ve kind of hit on this as we’ve been going. But you are now helping people, not specifically in the debt area but in other areas, and obviously I totally agree with what you’re saying, if you’ve got debt you should definitely give me a call so I will definitely put my own plug in there. But tell me what it is that you’re doing now then?
Dana Pharant: So, what I do is I work with people who, and particularly I love working with entrepreneurs but I work with people who have jobs as well, and making them through this space of feeling like they’re messed up to owning their brilliance, owning their power. And that process is these tools plus a whole lot more and clearing out the emotional hording, clearing out what is getting stuck in your way, stopping that loop that people get into of defaulting to I’m wrong. And being able to move to the space of seeing the wonder of the world, seeing, you know, that things do have an upside and being able to – if they want to have a big vision, if they want to go somewhere, they’re wanting to create something that changes the world, then you need to change what’s going on internally to get there.
Doug Hoyes: Got you so it does start internally. So, what I’m going to do in the show notes is put links to you, so the business that you operate now, your website, you also have podcast which we can link to. Tell everyone what the name of the podcast is if they want to go to iTunes right now and search for it.
Dana Pharant: Sure. So, the podcast is Inner Dominatrix and the website is innerdominatrix.com and I use that dominatrix as an archetype. I know I’m scaring your listeners here but it’s an archetype of someone who is strong and feminine and owning their power and just not taking any guff from anybody. So, it is that space internally that I invite people to step into.
Doug Hoyes: Cool. Well, we certainly got into lots of woo, woo here. So, anybody that wants a woo, woo, we’ve got it here for them today. And again the whole point of this show is to discuss things that we haven’t discussed before, to go into different areas and I think that’s certainly been great. So, I will definitely do that in the show notes over at hoyes.com and I mean if you just do a search on our website for the word Dana I don’t think we’ve had anybody else named Dana on the show so you’ll probably pop up right away. And people can listen to your, you know, go to your website, listen to your podcast or contact you directly if they want to get some one-on-one time with you.
My final question then to you is so how are you doing now? How is the whole proposal process worked for you? Is it what you expected, was it harder than you expected, did it accomplish what you wanted, what’s kind of the upshot of how it’s gone?
Dana Pharant: So, yeah, you know, I think I’m a great success story for what you do. I did have one piece I did not follow the advice on in that I did keep the business. I scaled it down to what I could manage on my own. Because I recognize that I was going to be difficult for me to find a job that was going to pay my bills and pay the consumer proposal requirement because I’m up at the maximum, it is the $1,300 a month payment, which is way less than if I was trying to repay that $350,000 on my own. I’m down to the last, I think I’ve got seven payments left, woo, hoo and then at the end of last year I sold my store.
So, you know, I turned it around, I made it profitable, I made those payments every month. I found ways to work around all of the, you know, I have no credit. It was always a way to get around whatever obstacles I had. And I think a lot of it is that piece that I refused to make myself wrong and I was always looking for okay, there’s another way, what’s the other way? So, I, yeah I’m really, really pleased, I think I’m doing really well with it.
Doug Hoyes: Excellent, well, that’s fantastic. Again, just to clarify for listeners, a proposal is tailored to your individual situation. So, in your case you had a lot of debt and as a result your monthly payment would be higher than someone who had less debt or who had less income or so on. And the numbers you’re quoting you’ve also got some secured debt in there also. So, the unsecured portion of a consumer proposal if you’re a single person is up to $250,000, just throwing in some technical stuff for our listeners just so that they know what we’re talking about. But obviously they can come to us and we can walk them through in general.
But in general it’s worked out for you as you’ve expected and you’re looking forward to being done. How is your life going to change when it’s done then? You said you’re seven payments away from being done, so let’s say it’s seven months from now your proposal’s completed, what’s going to change, what’s going to stay the same for you?
Dana Pharant: So, the biggest gift for me that’s come out of this is me getting back into paying for things right away, so, paying for it upfront, a cash basis. And when that – in doing that for me I have so much ease around money, I’m not worried about what else is coming in, being hit with something unexpected. A bill comes in, I pay it right away and it’s off my plate. So, that really reduces the stress level and I’m so grateful to be able to be back onto that system.
Doug Hoyes: So, the proposal took care of your debts, which was obviously the primary purpose of it, but it did a lot more than that. Obviously it relieved stress and I wouldn’t stay taught you some new skills but reinforced some things you already knew that hey, if you can pay cash for everything, and by cash I’m sure you also mean debit card and things like that but if you pay for everything upfront then you’ve got no worries at the end of the month about whether I can pay those bills. So, Is that the kind of process you’re going to continue on with once the proposal’s over?
Dana Pharant: Absolutely. I’ve been through a proposal, my husband’s been through a proposal a few years ago and so we’re both very committed to staying on the system that we have and accumulating wealth as opposed to accumulating debt.
Doug Hoyes: Fantastic and that’s really what we want, we want it to be a fresh start. So, I’m glad that’s worked out for you. Well, that’s fantastic I think that was a great story, a great, you know, you gave a lot of practical advice to which is great. So, again I’m going to put show notes at hoyes.com and we’re going to have links to your site and everything you do. So, can you just give people again the URL to your website and the name of your podcast as well?
Dana Pharant: Absolutely. So, it’s really easy innerdominatrix.com and the podcast is Inner Dominatrix .
Doug Hoyes: Excellent. Well, that’s fantastic. Dana, thank you very much for being on the show today.
Dana Pharant: Thank you Doug.
Doug Hoyes: That was my conversation with Dana Pharant who is currently just finishing a consumer proposal to deal with her debts. As she said on the show some of her advice might seem a bit woo, woo, but the point of this show is to provide different perspectives so I’m glad she came on. She had some great practical advice.
First she said it’s important to, as she put it, detangle. Take a hard look at the numbers and if you have no other alternative but to file a consumer proposal to deal with your debts, realize that it’s just money, detangle from your worries. Don’t worry about the thoughts of others, be only concerned with what’s best for you.
How do you do that? Change your internal programming, instead of focusing on your money problems; instead ask yourself questions to turn your mindset around. Dana gave a great example of a question you can ask yourself, I wonder why it’s so easy for me to be so relaxed about clearing this debt? That question makes your mind think that it will be easy to be relaxed and not stressed about dealing with your debt.
I also completely agree with her point about the biggest benefit of filing a consumer proposal. Obviously it eliminates your debts but Dana also said it changed her internal programming so that she is now on a cash basis she pays for everything upfront and not having to worry about debt makes her life a lot less stressful. That’s a great way to live.
Thanks again to Dana for being on the show. That’s our show for today. Full show notes, including links to Dana’s website and her podcast can be found at hoyes.com that’s h-o-y-e-s-dot-com. Thanks for listening, I’m Doug Hoyes. Until next week that was Debt Free in 30.