Money and Main Street
2 of 4
Lori DiBacco
City: Oceanside, Calif.
Price paid: $610,000
Current value: $550,000
Lesson: "It was so horrible, the worst stress we'd ever been under."

Apparel sales rep Lori DiBacco and her musician husband, Bill, were living a dream life in their five-bed, three-bath home with pool in beautiful Oceanside, Calif. They bought the place in 1994, and they lived well, but not wisely.

"We took great vacations, if we saw something we wanted we bought it," says Lori.

The couple was childless by choice, as they both traveled for work. Then, five years ago, their goddaughter came to live with them. That radically altered everything.

Bill stopped working so someone would be home, which halved the couple's income. Then, there were big expenses for taking care of the child.

"She needed a lot of extra care," Lori says. "We put a lot of money into her education, dropping $50,000 the first year into Sylvan Learning Center for remedial work."

The coup-de-grace happened when Lori injured her back and couldn't work.

They burned through their savings and took out a second loan on the house. Their monthly mortgage bill, about $1,400 when they first bought the house, ballooned to $4,400. They started missing payments; they simply didn't have the money. They went nine months without paying.

"Oh my God, it was so horrible, the worst stress we'd ever been under," Lori says. "It sent my husband over the edge to a nervous breakdown."

By the time they were done, they owed $610,000 on a property that was worth just $550,000 when they did a short sale last year.

Things are much better now. Bill runs a business restoring classic Mustangs, and Lori started a pet concierge business, which arranges everything for the pampered pet. She calls working with animals her dream job.

Their finances are still tattered. They were turned down for several places they tried to rent. They're living in a condo owned by Bill's mom, paying a small rent but fixing the place up. Lori loves the new place; it's in a quiet 55-plus community with very nice neighbors, most of whom have pets.

"We almost divorced many times over the stress of the financial burden and all that entailed," Lori says.

NEXT: Ron Nash

Last updated September 16 2009: 12:46 PM ET
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