Family forced to sell everything because of tough economic times

Knoxville (WVLT) - Times are tough for many East Tennesseans, struggling to make ends meet with a tanking economy.

With the rise in gas prices and food costs, folks who were struggling before are barely making it now.

Volunteer TV spoke with one family who's looking to sell all their furniture to pay their bills.

Don and Patricia O'Donnell have been married for 13 years. The Jefferson City couple had tough financial times before, but recently it's taken a turn for the worse.

"It just all caught up with us 3 months ago and it's just getting progressively worse," Don said.

Three months ago they got stuck with a 600 dollar tax fine, plus their dog got sick and they got behind on their bills. About five years ago they filed for bankruptcy, and all of Don's paycheck goes to his debts, but he's on social security disability and his wife works in Gatlinburg. However, with tough economic times, Pat says they're struggling.

"It's easy to get into and hard to get out of. I hope nobody ever gets in this situation it's very stressful," Pat said.

Adding to the stress, they together drive 120 miles round-trip a week to and from work. With the price of gas going up, it's making it hard for them to drive to their job.

"We understand gas prices are up but I feel our pay should go up also," Pat said.

Since their wages haven't gone up, they're turning to the internet for help. They've listed household furniture and electronics in the classifieds.

"We're looking to sell everything to just get out of this mess and get caught up so we can at least have some kinda life," Don said.

Some kind of a life without the financial burden they're carrying right now.

Financial planners remind everyone during these tough economic times to budget carefully and spend wisely. They say it's imperative to stay financially stable.


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  • by know them Location: morristown on Aug 9, 2010 at 10:51 PM
    Pat Odonnell works for ermc security chattanooga tn.
  • by Been There Location: morristown on Aug 25, 2008 at 06:53 PM
    Kathy what you don't know is these people are not in a situation like you have been in or myself. Pat works at college square mall in morristown her husband works at sunset resorts as a security officer and they have his disabliliy check as income and they both worked at gatlinburg convention center as security guards it does need to be known so people will quit feeling sorry for them. Even with all they claim they have had to sell Pat drives a ram pickup truck to work that looks like it rolled off the showroom floor and refuses to downsize to a more economical car.
  • by Kathy Location: Jefferson City on Jun 18, 2008 at 12:31 PM
    Oh I can't let it go!!! Don in Knoxville I have to ask that you please share your secret to your wealth....On second thought DON"T I'm sur if anyone reads my last comment like Don in Knoxville he'll have something nasty to say about us to. Watch who you write things about, you never know who they really are. I'm sure people have read your comments and said Oh my I know who that is just by the things you write. To clear it up I worked 27 years started young won't tell ya how young but dad had to sign a work permit for me. Now I'm unable to. because you see I have no insurance and no doctors will see me cause I'm a risk and I am the specialist I need to see is $350 first visit more after because of tests I need and no Don it is not Physciatric! Your so silly ! Health issuse keep me from working ...don't judge but I still won't tell you what the are either! I will tell you though our younget child is just a teenager guess what he has pre-cancer Oh ya we went to walmart to get our illnes!!
  • by Kathy Location: Jefferson City, TN on Jun 18, 2008 at 12:00 PM
    For those criticizing this couple PLEASE READ. Walk a day in their shoes before you judge. 10 years ago my husband fell 30 ft off a utility pole while at work at his FIRST job. Snide remarks were made, I think he was expected to get up brush off and go on. You know I know he wished he could as well as me and our 2 kids. No he fractured 90% of his pelvis shattered his right hip (he has titainium now)blew out his shoulder and damaged vertabre he also has alot of nerve damage. Yes he walks with a cane but falls alot been totally disabled since his early 30's by all right he should be dead! 24 years togeather this year THANK GOD he didn't die! Still people look at him when he's out DOCTORS treat him poorly, people still make snide comments! THEY HAVE NO CLUE! And neither do any of you apparently! We to have sold all our belongings some from 23 years and before. We are selling our home to move we have lost everything and got no help from anyone! Lord I tried! Don't judge, it could be you!
  • by know these people Location: morristown on May 25, 2008 at 01:07 PM
    Pat ODonnell works at College Square Mall in Morristown Tennessee and her husband works at sunset resort in sevierville as security officer
  • by Daughter Location: jefferson city on May 16, 2008 at 10:23 PM
    The comment about the reason they drive so far. I don't know if you know much about Jefferson City, TN, but htere are no jobs here, especially any that pay any type of decent wages. I drive to Greenville which is 47 miles one way to a job. Alot of stuff depends on a persons education also and the way they were raised. You do not know their struggle. AS far as disability you can be partially disabled and work so many hours and make a certain percentage. Everyone needs to do their research before making commments they know nothing about. Their story is real it is not a scam. It is hard to get cought up when you are behind and bad things do happen to good people. What if you werer to get in a car wreck and loose your job and you make good money what then? You use all of your resources then what would you do?I know a couple who lost their 4 yr old son in a wreck and no insurance to cover medical bills of over 100,000 dollars. You can help them just contact wvlt for the information.
  • by Daughter Location: jefferson city on May 16, 2008 at 10:03 PM
    I would also like to comment about the miles they drive. He drives to Gatlinburg 4 days a week and she drives to morristown 5 days a week. They drive 120 miles per work day, not week.
  • by daughter Location: jefferson city on May 16, 2008 at 10:00 PM
    To Don, I don't know exactly what you think you saw in the picture, but they do not have leather furniture, they have average clothes that come from wal-mart, and they rent the trailer from a family member and things are so bad they haven;t even been able to pay the rent tothe family member. So until you know the true facts about their story I would not pass judgement.
  • by Lulu Location: Bean Station, Tn. on May 12, 2008 at 08:23 PM
    I have been reading all of theses comments. Some of them are harsh. We all understand that times are hard. I have known Pat for over 30 yrs. Her and Don have always worked. They fell on hard times when he got sick and had to stop driving a truck which was around 5 yrs ago. They are good decent people and I feel that they just wanted to tell their story to let others know they are not alone in the stuggle to make ends meet They are not trying to scam anybody nor did they ask for anything. Pat loves that dog more than anything. Her kids are grown and the dog has been good company for her especially when Don was on the road. It's hard to just give up a pet because you have fallen on hard times. And as far as Don working if you listen to the story he is paying what he can out of his disability check but the article says paycheck. Please don't feel sorry for theses folks just please pray for them if you can find it in your heart. Who knows tomorrow you and I may wake with the same situation.
  • by Don Location: Knoxville on May 8, 2008 at 11:19 AM
    Ellen, Good point about the media wanting us to believe the economy is bad. Meanwhile this is what is really happening: Wal-Mart sales of groceries and items such as flat-screen TVs boost same-store sales (AP) -- Wal-Mart Stores Inc. says sales of groceries and items such as flat-screen TVs boosted its same-store sales in April above Wall Street expectations. The world's largest retailer said same-store sales rose 3.2 percent, easily beating Wall Street's 2.1 percent growth forecast. The media is just trying to brainwash people into thinking things are bad so they will vote for Democrats. Good there are still some of us that don't fall for it. And this couple still has a nice home, overstuffed leather furniture, nice clothes, etc. Makes you wonder how CBS found them?
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