(WSVN) - She bought a used car without understanding the financing agreement. When her first car payment came in — she realized it takes up her entire monthly paycheck.

Can she get out of the deal? It’s why she called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Life is hard for a lot of people. It’s even harder for Katrina.

Katrina: I wonder what’s happened to me because I’ve always been someone that opened up to everybody.

Katrina lost her home, often went hungry and struggled to get a job.

Katrina: Because I didn’t have anybody to take me anywhere, and I didn’t have any transportation.

Finally, she found work and went to a used car dealership, where they told her they could get her financing for a car she could afford.

Katrina: I bought a car so that I won’t have to miss work — so that I have a way to work.

But after signing the paperwork for the $20,000 used car at nearly 20 % interest, Katrina found out she couldn’t afford it when she got the first payment.

Katrina: I was like, shocked like, that’s almost $500.

The $484 plus insurance is about what Katrina makes each month. So why did she sign the contract?

Katrina: It was it was just so fast-moving.

Patrick: Did you know what you were signing?

Katrina: Not really, no.

When we talked to Katrina she was living with her sister, sleeping on the couch. With the car expenses, she will never be able to afford her own apartment.

Patrick: You blame the car salesman or you?

Katrina: Well, I blame myself for putting myself into that car.

Katrina accepts the blame, but can’t find a way out. The dealership won’t buy the car back, the finance company won’t take it, and she is broke trying to pay for it.

Katrina: I can’t afford the payments on that car. I want them to get me out of that car so I could be able to be in something that I could afford.

Howard, you sign a contract you don’t understand and can’t afford, or you lose your job and can’t afford the car. Is there a way to get out of the contract?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: In most cases, no. If you sign the contract you are stuck. The only exception is if the dealership exaggerated your income to qualify you for financing — that’s fraud. But to prove it, you have a sue in court. If you can’t afford a car, you can’t afford a lawyer. The best thing to do is try to return it to the finance company.

When we next saw Katrina again, it was appropriate that it was cloudy and a thunderstorm was coming in because Katrina had more bad news.

Katrina: I was pushing carts and I felt the pain in the left side of my neck. And I have a herniated disc.

Of course, her car was repossessed and the bills from the finance company keep coming in. Now totaling $2,320 for missed payments.

Katrina: I say, ‘Why should I have to send you a payment when you have the car?’

Howard: The finance company will sell the car and bill Katrina for the difference between what it was sold for and what you owe. Katrina will find that out after the car is sold at auction.

Now with her neck problem, she can’t work and has no idea what she will do next.

Katrina: No, it can’t get no worse than this.

Hang in there Katrina.

We sometimes hear from people who say a used car dealer got financing for them by exaggerating how much money they take home. Check the paperwork to stop that because you won’t be able to make the payments.

By the way, a friend has set up a GoFundMe page for Katrina to pay the $2,320 she still owes. If you would like to help Katrina out, click here.

Fighting a problem you can’t afford to lose? Buy some time with us. We have an outrageous interest in helping you for free.

With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.

Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
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