Bad poet writes about her debt, wins $1,000

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With $8,000 in credit card debt, it didn't take Salyna Gingras long to write a poem about being in debt . It's a subject that she unfortunately knows too much about. To her fortune, however, she managed to write the worst poem she could about this unpleasant topic ... and was rewarded handsomely for her efforts.

Gingras won $1,000 in the Bad Poetry Contest sponsored by Spendonlife.com, a credit management site. We wrote about the contest last month here at WalletPop, and Gingras, whose only poetry credentials are the ditties she composes for family birthday cards, figured she should try her hand. The challenge was to write the very worst poem about being in debt.

I was one of five contest judges, and I'm proud to say that I had Gingras' poem at the top of my list. It turns out there's a skill to writing bad poetry, (even though I don't consider her poem particularly bad or poorly written.) But you be the judge: read some of the other 150 entries here.

Titled, "Vicious Cycle," her complete poem can be found here, but here's the first few lines:

BEEP -- Card denied, BEEP -- Card denied
I'm sorry ma'am, but your Gold Card has lost its color.
Ya know you could always apply for another?
Or, you can consolidate, at a new low introductory interest rate.
You have "fool" written on your forehead, you will surely take the bait.


Gingras, 31, told me in a telephone interview that she and her husband didn't use their credit card on wild purchases, but used them for gas and other daily expenses after her husband had his pay and hours cut this year, and his employer dropped medical insurance. "We weren't too frivolous with them," she said.


The family, which lives in Burton, Mich., a suburb of Flint, includes two children, ages 3 and 6, and quickly found that trying to live on $15,000 less income can make paying the bills much more difficult. They quickly depleted their savings, then turned to credit cards out of necessity. While her husband continues working as an emissions supervisor, she works part-time at an apartment complex and has had to stop taking Web design classes so she can look for more work.

In May they stopped using their three credit cards altogether, Gingras said. They've saved money by canceling their home phone and finding alternative childcare solutions. She's also dropped out of web design classes she was taking, at least until the family finances are back on track. "We're not comfortable having this much debt.," she said.

Now she's $1,000 closer to her goal.

Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Reach him at www.AaronCrowe.net
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