My sister is looking for Debt Counseling suggestions

Long story short, my sister and her husband have maxed out three credit cards to the tune of $35K and are now only able to make the minimum payments and it is stressing them out.

They have some modest money in investments but do not want to touch their “nest egg” tosolve this problem. She has asked me to help her research options, mainly debt counseling. She would like to find an honest counseling service that would help her with debt reduction – hoping to pay only some fraction of the amout instead of 100 percent.

Can anyone here give her a path that make sense? She would love to have actual company names and phone numbers to get it started. Any personal experience would be most welcome. She is in the Los Angeles / Orange County area.

Thanks for the info on Greenpath, we will look into it, it sounds like
a good option.

I recommend you either negotiate directly with your creditors or hire a
debt settlement company. One I am involved in that I think is honest is hhs.gov and they are located in Texas.

When I lived in Orange County I also had a similar problem and found
this place: http://crploans.com

They gave me an honest assessment (they couldn’t help me) and some
good tips for saving money so we could put more towards debt. There’s
lots of places out there, but she should start with non-profit credit
counseling agencies, I think, before paying for any kind of service.
It seems like people have had mixed results, and you have to research
places carefully. Tell your sister good luck!

I am the original sender of the message, asking for help for my
sister. I just called Total Debt Services in Plano Texas and educated
myself a bit.

Here is a thumbnail of what I learned:
Based on my sisters situation, she owes three cards $35, 000

  1. Sign up with the “company”
  2. Open a special bank account, with the companies help.
  3. close the credit cards in question
  4. let the acccount go into default
  5. let the account go to a collection agency
  6. my sister’s FICO score will go into the toilet, for a few years
  7. start making monthly payments into the special bank account
  8. the “company” will start to have talks with the credit cards
  9. the company will establish a settlement with credit cards
  10. with the clients approval the company will take money out of special
    account and pay settlement
  11. some years later my sister’s FICO score will improve

Maybe I forgot some of the steps but that is close.
Credit cards will not settle for less money until you can no longer
make payments, then they might expect that they will settle for less
money instead of none.
A friend of mine says that some credit cards will sue the holder of
the card for the debt.

Hope that helps.

Let me know if you want more info

Re: my situation and request that anyone with any advice…

I generally don’t post a lot, but wanted to share what has been helping me do better financially. First, let me congratulate you for the efforts you are making to turn things around. Sounds like you have made a start, and that is the hardest part! Keep your support system going–glad to see you have a counselor working with you. That will help keep you accountable until you are back on your feet.

Get yourself set up with a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University course! I am taking one through a local church. He talks about how to pay creditors and get out of messes, and his program WORKS. He will give you hope and help you rediscover your integrity if you stick with it. You can buy his kit (13 weeks of lessons) but it doesn’t have the videos, just an audio version of the course. I wish it had the videos as they help solidify the information in my mind. It cost $96 but was worth every penny.

You sound like a good candidate for chapter 7 bankruptcy but it will be
on your credit report for 10 years. First off, congrats on taking solid steps to pull out of a terribly  difficult situation. I’m sure you’ll get lots of great advice on debt here, so I wanted to address your furniture needs.

I don’t know where you’re located, but my advice on furnishing your place is to look on Freecycle and Craigslist. Using both, you can probably find everything you need at an affordable price. And don’t worry — the place doesn’t have to be perfect from day one. Start with an essential here, an essential there.

And talk to people at church or in your community if you don’t go to
church. Most people have furniture they don’t really need but would love to lend or give to you so they have the warm fuzzies of helping a person in need.The biggest thing I’ve learned is to let go of my pride. Suze Orman said recently that having debt doesn’t make you a bad person–it just makes you bad with money. And that’s a skill so it’s correctable. Ask people for help; they’ll come through for you.

Don’t forget about thrift stores and pawnshops. Near where I live there’s a pawnshop that opened a second store just to deal with furniture. Also check out auctions. My best couch came from an auction and even though it had a broken leg it worked fine and only cost a dollar. Sometimes furniture sells good and other times you can pick up things dirt cheap. Check out yard sales and moving sales as well. A lot of times if people are moving they decide to get rid of furniture instead of moving it all to the new place. I know someone who bought a kitchen table that was all banged up with paint and other stains on the top. He cleaned it, sanded it down smooth, and refinished it and nobody would ever know it started out looking a whole lot worse.

If you are making 62K then you should be able to structure the paying
off of the debts based on importance such as truck then get going on the cards. Check into getting the cards refinanced into lower rates.

You can absolutely try to work a deal with the collection agent. Knowing that they purchased your debt(s) for pennies on the dollar, it certainly worth hurt trying to negotiate it down. Looking at your debt numbers, they certainly are not hopeless. If you make it known to the debt agent that you are doing your absolute best to pay them what you agree upon, they’ll work with you. DO NOT ALLOW them to intimidate you though. If they try to make you commit to something you cannot do, let them know that – but be firm that you will do all you can. Make it known that you have a payment plan in place (you should, at least) and you have prioritized it amongst all you creditors. Keep at it and do not give up!

My particular situation is a little bit more complex.

Well, I just started to read this blog a few weeks ago and have found many of the discussions vey helpful. However, I feel that my particular situation is a little bit more complex than the normal debtor. I’d like to give a brief synopsis of my situation and request that anyone with any advice they could offer me, would please do so.

First, I’ll give you a summary of my debt situation. I have the following debts:

  1. $76,600 in credit card debt via use of 7 different credit cards
    with 6 diferent creditors. Here is a breakdown of these debts
    (creditor; outstanding balance; account status):
    – GE MONEY BANK / PAYPAL DC; $2600; 150+ days past due
    – BANK OF AMERICA; $6000; Account Charged Off
    – CHASE BANK; $38500; Account Charged Off
    – CHASE BANK; $13000; Acount Charged Off
    – CITIBANK; $2500; Account Charged Off
    – FIA CSNA / MERRYL LYNCH; $11000; Account Charged Off
    – WASHINGTON MUTUAL / PROVIDIAN; $3000; Account Charged Off
  2. Truck loan with an outstanding balance of $9600. I have remained current on these payments. My father co-signed on this secured loan usinghis home as collateral. My truck is valued at approximately the outstanding balance of $9600.
  3. A loan from my father in the amount of $3500.
  4. I owe my girlfriend $1500.
  5. I incurred $1500 in medical bills last month.

Secondly, here is a breakdown of my current financial situation:

  1. I currently have a salary of $62,000 per year.
  2. I have $100 cash on hand and $400 in my checking account. I do not have any money in my savings account.
  3. I do not own a home, nor am I currently renting. I’m living at a friends house temporarily.
  4. I have no assets of any value.

Here is what happened. I moved a year and a half ago. I got depressed and began gambling, which turned into a coping mechanism for me, and eventually turned me into a pathological gambler. All of my debt can be linked to gambling. I lost my job last December and took a new job in January in my hometown in hopes to get my life together.

I’m currently getting much neeed help for my gambling and feel that I’m gaining control over it. I feel that the only way for me to have a chance of fully recovering from this situation is by first taking care of my financial situation. I have no way of meeting the demands of my creditors currently and am fearful of a lawsuit being brought against me. I do not know what to do. I am about to get an apartment in which I will have to buy all furniture and appliances, as I currently have nothing. I’m also looking into seeking psychiatric help for my numerous behavioral health problems as well as seeking financial counseling.

Does anyone have any thoughts on how I should handle this? I’m beginning to get numerous calls from collection agencies on a daily basis. My accounts that have been charged off were charged off within the last 1 or 2 months. The collection agencies that have been calling include I.C SYSTEMS, NCO FINANCIAL, ALLIANCE ONE, HANNA FREDERICK J & ASSOCIATES – ATTORNEY AT LAW, ENCORE RECEIVABLES MANAGEMENT, and a few others.

We spoke to an attorney regarding Chapter 13 BK, but?

We own six properties and one of them is up-side-down and the other two
have a some equity in them. (3 of them have good equity in them and there is no negative cash flow)We have tried to sell but to no avail.We really don’t want to file a Chapter 13 because we are in our early 60’s and I do not want to go back to work for the next 3 to 5 years. We are on Soc. Security and retirements. I don’t mind going back to work for another year or so, but not what a Chapter 13 would expect.We mostly borrowed against our properties to try and keep things going and our Credit Card debt in around $20,000 and actually could borrow many thousands more on them to keep us going until the market picks up to sell and then pay them back?
Where can I get some help with the mortgage lenders where we are 6
weeks late and other kind of help besides Chapter 13?
I would contact the lenders themselves and ask what they can do with you. I think that they would be very willing to foreclose on the property once you are really late. Not sure of their cut off.

Otherwise, I would say, if you want to keep the properties, you should be looking for work to make the money to afford them. What made you go into buying real estate in such large quantities initially? Just my curiousity. I always wonder what makes people go out and buy large amounts of real estate. I have enough work taking care of my own home, let alone trying to take care of several others. Though, a vacation home would be nice if we could pay for it outright. You know, a condo by the beach or something.

Anybody have any other thoughts on reducing ones living expenses? we don’t eat out, we don’t go on vacations, all of our furnishings were obtained used some years ago. The gas pump and the grocery store bills are killing our budget and seriously delaying our debt repayment. A load of groceries that used to cost $60 was $140 last week.
Have you kept track of every single penny spent for at least 30 to 60
days? We do that regularly and it’s always an eye opener. I think most
of us have leaks here and there that we aren’t aware of but if you
track every penny they show up..and quickly! It takes us 2 to 3 days
to find them. From there, stopping the leaks is another matter.

Also, what did you get at the store for $140? Grocery is one of the
easiest categories to cut for most people. Even in times like these!

Im not sure how many people are in your family but heres a few things
we do to help our budget, maybe you can find some useful tips in here:

  1. Sit down and plan each week of meals and only buy what you absolutely
    need to buy. you also may want to look into purchasing meat from a
    farmer vs the store since store prices are so high (we have a hobby
    farm so we raise all our own meats)
  2. as for gas pumps it is sadly only going to get worse, see if there is
    any way to car pool with someone near you. make a list of things you
    need to buy and only make 1 trip a week.
  3. if you can: if you have both a home phone and cell determine which is
    better and rid of the other til you can offered to have both.
  4. keep electric costs down by lighting candles or oil lamps and
    unplugging anything not in use. people dont realize that if something
    is is plugged in and not “on” that it still using electricity.
  5. turn the temp down when you go to sleep or work so you are not using
    heat when its not necessary.
  6. have time limits on showers
  7. wash clothes but hang to dry or wash and dry clothes only in the
    evenings and never on weekends when its peak times.

    I hope some of these will help you out! good luck

Answer to Franca from NY

Hi, I’m Franca from NY. I am a single mom to 4 boys. I am a financial
mess. I’ve been using a credit counseling agency since October for my
credit cards and that has been working out great. But I am behind on my mortgage, utilites, car payment. I feel like I just do not have enough money coming in. I get Social Sec disability for my 2 youngest because their Dad is disabled but thats it, no child support. I do my best to stay on track but there is no room to budge. As soon as I get hit with something, it throws me totally off. I do not have any savings and each month I worry how I am going to get through. Gas and food prices are out of control. I do work full time.

Thanks for letting me vent. Its not a good week so far and its only Monday.

Hi Franca,
I really feel for you. Financial problems are really a big burden. If it’s a such a big problem for you, then maybe it’s time you take some action to become financially healthy. There are so many resources out there to help you. I know it would probably be tough to find the time with a full time job, being a full time mom to 4 boys, but your message sounds like you need to make your financial situation a big priority. I had a huge debt and the main thing that got me through paying it all off and gaining a healthy way of spending my hard earned money was changing my attitude about it. Many of the books or CDs by Suze Orman are really great for this. Do you ever see her on TV? Her ideas and programs may really help you as a woman. Check her out!

Chapter 7 and foreclosure

I am currently in Chapter 7 and the mortgage company has been granted
a motion by the court to foreclose on my house as of last week. I am
five months behind in payments.Can I prevent foreclosure if I can get the money to catch up on my
mortgage payments?

Also, what is the foreclosure process? I live in Pennsylvania. What
notifications do you receive from the court, mortgage company, state
etc.? How much time do I have to get out of the house or does the
sheriff just show up and take the keys and evict you without any
previous notification?

I can’t find a place to live and have two children, one graduating in  June from high school. The kids don’t know anything about this yet. I’m scared to death.

If your attorney can not advise you on the timing of these things,
you need to find another attorney. They should have all these
answers for you. I know in my state, I have a 30 day notice after a
sale of any kind. That would come in written format from the sheriff.Hope this helps, all states are different, try calling your courthouse or sheriffs office to get details if your attorney can’t help you. O I forgot to mention, if you roll over to a chapter 13 you can keep your house. You can roll over up to the day of foreclosure and still keep your house. You have to pay the arrears over a 3 to 5 year plan. Did you contact the mortgage company yet? If not, do so. You should have contacted them at 3 months behind when they first started the process. They might reconsider if you do pay all the back payments. With so many in foreclosure, they’d rather have the money. You may have to pay penalties such as lawyer fees etc.

As luck would have it, I may be able to help. I just got off the phone with my mortgage company and I, too, am five months behind. I politely asked them if I could make extra payments to catch up and they agreed that could be fine. They’ll have to see the payments, he said, before they remove the default and there may be some legal fees (whatever, as long as I’m allowed to catch up). I’m fortunate that I have a little extra money coming in this month and am able to do this. Give the mortgage company a call, remain calm (that’s my biggest challenge), and see what they say.

How to Settle A Debt of a Large Amount

I went thru an eviction 2 yrs ago and I owe the apartment complex $6800 (back rent and some fees). The fees supposedly incurred are inflated in my opinion. Anyway, it’s in the hands of Hunter Warfield at this time.

I sent them a settlement letter of $4100 and told them I would pay it in installments of $275 for 18 months. I didn’t hear from them so I gave them a call.

The rep over the phone told me that the only way they would accept a settlement is if the amount settled ($4100) would be paid off in 3 months, or no settlement and pay the $6800 in 12 months.

I didn’t accept either of these because I wanted to get some advice from the board about my next steps. This is a huge dent on my credit and I need it gone in the next 6-9 months. What recourse should I take?

I’m not totally sure about this… but research “legal tender law.” I think getting it off your record might be a long battle, but essentially the law is that if you offer legal tender in settlement of a debt and they refuse the money, the debt is gone. Research it and see if it helps..

If they really want the money they can get the settlement down to what ou want it to. Send them a copy of your budget and explain that the only way that you are going to be able to pay them the way that they want is if you win the lottery and there is a fat chance at that. Money is what they want and they are going to have to look at the options that YOU have available so that they can make an easy comprimise for you.
The “legal tender law” allows you to pay in CASH, in the full amount of any transaction. It says nothing about partial payments or settlements. It’s for the people who show up at a house closing with 50 coffee cans stuffed with $20 bills.

The only time a legal owner of the debt is required to accept less than the full amount of the debt IS BY A COURT ORDER. I.e. Bankruptcy