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Ron MacQuarrie: $35,000 in debt
Surf teacher and retail clerk, 62, San Clemente, Calif.

I was a mortgage banker for about 20 years and while it had always been a bit of a rollercoaster ride, it also had some added perks in that I set my own schedules. This gave me time for what I really love to do: Surf.

As I watched the bubble getting thinner and thinner and bigger and bigger, I tried to position myself to survive what I thought would be a short-term correction.

First rates went up. Not much, but just enough to stop my business cold. First ones to go of course were the small brokers like myself who could not continue to spend more and more money to capture less and less business.

During that period I ran up about $35,000 in debt, mostly credit card. It didn't seem like much at the time, to try and sustain what I thought was a short downturn that turned into a long-term bad market. Make that a catastrophically bad market that is far worse then anything I have seen before and getting worse.

Then my son's house, which I co-signed for, went into foreclosure. Not really his fault, he was in the same business and his went down as well. At that point I made a decision that since my credit was gone anyway and I was really incapable of paying even the minimum payment on the debt, that I had little to lose and I just walked away. I don't feel good about it. If I can, when I can, I'll work on paying it back, but at this point I don't care much.

Now I am a clerk at a very well run food store part time at night, and I'm teaching surfing when I can. It barely is survival money, but I've discovered that sometimes that is quite okay actually.

Failure can be enlightening.

NEXT: Warren Taylor: Home won't sell
Last updated November 15 2009: 6:21 AM ET
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