My income is cut in half. My credit card bills are overdue. They are calling all the time and I don't have extra money to pay them. How do I start climbing out of this hole that I am in? I can't get a second job; I have tried! I can't even sell the family heirlooms. I am scared and worried! Any advice?
By lynette from Ann Arbor
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According to all the credit experts you can call your credit card companies and ask them to lower your interest rate or you will have to declare bankruptcy. The companies would rather have some money than none at all. Also if you own your own home you could refinance your mortgage and pay off the credit cards and then cut them all up and never use them again
First: take a hot bath. Get calm. Pray. Call your creditors first. Explain the situation. Some will be hateful. Be pleasant. Tell them you need their help to get them paid, otherwise it is bankruptcy and they won't get anything. Do not get scared. Do not sell family heirlooms. Even if you pay 5.00 a month, you are making a payment. Do not charge anymore. Check the balances and percentages and see if you can get them cut.
Contact your state government for assistance, there will be a department in your state (don't know where you are located) get on your state government website. There should be a department that works between consumers and companies. Work at finding that department, even if people say there is not, keep searching. if you have to, call your politicians and tell them you're looking for some help, where can you turn. Let them make recommendations and follow thru to see if the suggestions can help.
Don't let the companies bully you. Usually, if you can hold out things change. Don't lose your grip. If you have a recorder or can borrow one, tape the companies calling and how they are speaking to you. They are not allowed to threaten you (that's a big, big deal). Remain Calm. Remain pleasant, and keep this in mind: God is in charge, not them and not you. Before calling any company, read Psalm 31 and 37. I did it.
Remember even if you only pay $5 it is a payment. If you can return something, do it. Check your statements (go back and look) make sure you are being charged correctly. Do not charge anything else. Do without if you don't absolutely have to have it and put the money towards the debts.
Cellphones are very costly. Get rid of it (unless it is a necessity.) Give up cigarettes, switch to a cheaper brand or cut down, way down. (I quit.) Cancel cable (I did-it kept going out on me anyway) and watch whatever I want on computer and I do not miss it at all. Do not rent dvds. Do not buy dvds. Carry coffee from home. Open an etsy store. Look at what you can sell on Amazon. Do not buy books.
Eat less (I gave up having meat everyday-but then I'm not that crazy about meat anyway!) I wear uniforms. I only wear them for 8 hours a day...so asap I get home, I take them off, hang them up and sometimes knock the wrinkles out in the dryer) and wear them for another 8 hours before running them thru the washer. I gave up drycleaning years ago. I buy soap when it's on sale, open the boxes and let the soapbars dry out and it lasts longer. I stay out of stores. When I shop, I make sure to look at the prices and watch when the item is run thru the register and it rings right. For some reason, my short-term memory will let me recognize the price when it is rang up, but I must actually handle the product. some stores, do not change the price in their computer and how convenient for them, it rings up at the higher price. Take bad food back to the store you got it from and get refund.
As best you can, keep your spirits up, it is easy to drag yourself down. don't let others talk you into spending money on something that is not absolutely necessary.
I have DSL, but it is slower then what it is suppose to be, I call and get credit. Why should I pay for something I'm not getting?
Don't believe everything your friends say. I paid a friend's electric bill and she was getting it paid by CAA. burnt me up. Some friend, huh?
If possible, give up one meal every third day (this can be considered a fast and dedicated to the Lord.) do not do this if you are diabetic or must stay on regular diet, because this can hurt you.
Stop drinking sodas or at least cut down (I now drink one a day and am working at quitting that.)
Obama is sending people to school, check your local vocational college out and see if there are classes you can attend at their cost (CAA-community action, sometimes, they pay you.) Contact the welfare office, see if you qualify for food-stamps and CAA sometimes will help with electric bills.
Let friends know you are looking for work.
If you have been cut even one day out of your work, check with employment office to see if you qualify to be paid unemployment for that day (years ago, this happened to me, the company cut me one day a week, I qualified--then the company got mad and made me work that day instead-it was kind of funny.) I do not know your situation, but there are things you can do. Can you type? Sometimes, people need things done they cannot do themselves such as preparing resume or even business plans.
Do you have any specialty skills? Can you crochet or knit or sew? there are sites that let you sell your items, cannot remember but seems like LionBrand does that. Check with your local home extension office, they may offer a class for odds and ends that will help give you ideas. Some states have state sites where you can sell homemade candy, home-canned foods, homemade breads, etc on the state website. There should be a local Pathfinders that help people with different things (not bills) but maybe giving suggestions.
Get up and get started. Make sure you get a full night's sleep. In our area, there are always turnover at the local corner stores (like bp) that cannot keep help because they try to beat you to death working you so much! Collect pop cans. Look at the designs on different sites, sometimes you can make crafts for a little bit of nothing. Work your brain. Our local hospital has a swapshop for the employees, one lady is selling handmade hair bows on that site. Check out the recycling sites and get some ideas because you do not want to spend money and check freebie sites because sometimes you can find stuff you can use to recycle and sell.
Check in at your local county judge executive office. I live in a rural area, and I drop in and sometimes they know of places that need someone that the local employment office does not. Make contacts and remember once you accept a job, be clean, be on time, do it right and work hard. they pay you for your time, make sure they get it. (Check with the local walmart, I carried a job at the walmart part-time and a fulltime job at another place for well over 3 years. I got tired and quit walmart, but before I did, the manager himself tried to get me to stay on.) Jobs fall out of the sky and hit me in the head, where as my son could not find one. He moved to another state and is now working fulltime plus. Consider changing jobs: But look before you leap. Check out the state employment jobs and see what is available. There are seasonal jobs on most sites. Now, one last thing (sorry for writing so much) something I learned a long time ago, start early in the morning when looking for work. Whatever monies you save apply towards the credit card bill.
Look at the suggestions on this site!
and good luck and God bless.
You need to use one of those companies to lower payments and consolidate. Or ask the company for a real low interest. You will not be able to use the card meanwhile but you will slowly pay it down til it is gone.
Great advice from "applejack". Several of his ideas should work. It's just a matter of getting in the right mind frame. Pray first and ask God for His guidance, then get to reviewing several of the ideas and see which ones will apply to your situation. Once your confidence level gets up there, you'll be surprised at what you're able to accomplish, or who will hire you! Good luck, and God bless.
You've got lots of great advice already, but I'd like to iterate on a few things. When you call your credit card company, do not talk to the person who answers the phone, ask for their supervisor. They cannot make the decision to lower rates, reduce payments, or cut the balance, but the supervisor can.
You must stop spending immediately, no matter how small. All those things add up quickly, and the money you spend may be your electric, food, etc, money. Re-appropriate anything you can: a friend gave me some big t-shirts, which I cut up and made into nightgowns. There wasn't even much sewing involved. I use fabric scraps to make rag rugs. I've even made homemade dishcloths.
Get by with what you have, make things last by cutting usage in half (shampoo, cream rinse, etc), quit using things you don't need (wearing make-up when you sit at home). Buy cheaper brands. Do without. Keep a list of things you need and look for them at resale shops or yard sales. It's an excellent time to start a veggie garden or grow some plants in pots. Take anything that's given to you. Learn to cook cheap meals: oatmeal for breakfast, an omelet for dinner, soup for lunch, etc. Homemade bread is wonderful.
Right now, my husband is cutting the lawns of two elderly neighbors: he does it cheaper than other lawn services (which helps them out) and makes some extra money, which we save for emergencies. Accept the fact that you can no longer eat out, buy magazines, pay for cable TV, pay for a cell phone, etc. Make homemade laundry detergent and cleaners. You'll save lots of money. Nothing will be a fast fix, but be patient and stick with it. In time, you'll be surprised how frugally you can live. Good luck. PS: You may have to stop seeing friends who spend freely and expect you to keep up.
About a decade ago I was the victim of a scam and lost all my savings. At the same time I lost my job. My attorney advised me to just stop making payments on credit cards and change my phone number to an unlisted one. I was appalled as I had a lifetime credit score above 700 . Circumstances forced me to do just what the attorney advised. I had several bad years with the banks threatening everything short of physical violence, but then the threats and the harrassment began to slack. After seven years I started to rebuild my credit history, first by saving enough money to get a credit card from my credit union by backing it with my savings. I once again have a credit history over 700.
The guilt I felt disappeared last year when the government rescued the banking industry with our taxpayer money. The only credit card I have now is one with a $1,000. limit from my credit union in case I need to rent a car and it is backed by my own money.
Each city usually has a free company who will help you get out of debt. I went to Consumer Credit Counseling in Houston, Texas USA.
You bring everything with you regarding your debt, plus a list of what you spend things on, even stamps and magazine subscriptions, hair cuts, etc. Then CPA's, financial people give of their own time freely to put you on a schedule. They'll contact your creditors and will help and encourage you.
Make sure it is free. Do not, please please, go to these companies who advertise that they will 'make your debt go away'. This usually involves personal bankruptcy and you don't want that, for a lot of reasons.
If you file bankruptcy that means that You purchased items and didn't pay for them. That is stealing and you don't want that in your life, do yourself a favor!
Good luck, dear. It may seem like you'll never see the light of day, but believe me, with this kind of help, you will. Do you believe in God, or a Supreme Being? Pray, pray, pray. You'll be doing your part by getting help, but the miracle of the success will come from God, believe me. Pray that He will take away your fears and give you His peace.
Fear will paralyze you and you sound frozen. There should be an organization in your city where other people who are/were in debt can all talk together, share ideas, comfort you.
Also, and this is brutal, look inside yourself and determine what you did to get where you are. Self examination one of the hardest thing to do, but you have to find out how you got where you are so you won't find yourself there again. You must become accountable for your actions and make restitution for yourself and whoever your debt has touched and effected other people's world.
Many organizations, churches offer free counseling. Working with a non biased person will help you. You can say whatever you want and you will have to be very brave, in order to get to the core of what happened. It will help you so much to talk to someone who is in your shoes.
Right now, do whatever you can to save money. I ate a lot of peanut butter and soup. I stopped buying clothes, even though I shopped at Marshalls'.
Thank God I'm out of debt now, but guess what? I still shop at Marshalls and resale shops for clothing, shoes, handbags, etc. I eat peanut butter and soup.
I do not have a credit card, except one that is used in only extreme (car repairs, etc.) circumstances.
God bless you.
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