I’m Susan B., a Financial Sobriety Evangelist. I’ve been writing and speaking about personal finance and recovering from compulsive spending since 2009.

I have been free from compulsive spending since April 25, 2009. At that time, I had $34,000 of unsecured debt. In February of 2016, I finished paying off that debt.

I first came into recovery from compulsive spending in 1999. A few years later, after paying off over $22,000 in credit card debt, I thought I had the answer and left the program that had saved my life. I was able to maintain my sobriety with money for a couple of years, but eventually, the straw house collapsed and I reverted to my old debting ways.

In March 2009, My son was getting ready to go off to college and thankfully, I had prepared by putting money into a college plan for his tuition … but never thought about the rest – housing, food, etc. – which would total nearly $10,000 per year. His father wasn’t willing to contribute. In addition, I had accumulated another $34,000 in credit card debt. And I continued justifying out-of-control debting and spending despite diminishing lines of credit.

Though I became sober in 1990 and abstinent from compulsive eating in 1998, it became clear that I was still a liar about money. The situation turned desperate and I could no longer fool myself about what I was doing. It was devastating, and I felt like my whole life was collapsing around me, and I wouldn’t be able to send my son to college, which I had promised myself I would do from the day he was born. This, in addition to the wreck I was making of the rest of my life and finances.

And so I went back to the 12 step program that had helped me before.

I cut up all my credit cards the next day. I was terrified, but haven’t looked back and haven’t had anything happen that I couldn’t fund somehow or delay. This is truly one of the miracles of the program.

Today, I can say that I paid cash for all four years of my son’s college tuition and for the first two years of his living expenses. He worked and got student loans for the rest, and graduated in 2013. Thankfully, he is not a compulsive debtor and has already paid off most of his student loan.

But the biggest miracle of all is that I was able to do all of this despite having to go on disability in 2010!

There is no way I would be surviving … much less living within my means … especially under my current health circumstances … if it weren’t for the 12 step program.