Debt Counseling?

Updated on June 19, 2009
B.A. asks from Fairbury, IL
35 answers

I was wondering if anyone has ever used a credit counselor or gone through a debt management program? We have a sizeable amount of credit card debt & we are starting to have trouble paying our min. payment. Has anyone had any luck getting help?

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So What Happened?

Thank you to everyone who responded!! I think we will be getting a Dave Ramsey book this weekend!! Sounds like the most sensible way and a lot of people recommended it!! I just want to say my husband & I both work full time so it's just a matter of how we spend our money I guess!!!

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D.D.

answers from Chicago on

I have used Lighthouse Credit Foundation at 877-342-0000. The people there are very nice, never made me feel uncomfotable about my situation. Were always happy to help and just listen. It was the best thing my husband and I ever did! Good luck!

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C.O.

answers from Washington DC on

B.:

We were in your shoes in 2006. We didn't use a credit counselor.

You need to cut back on your spending in-house.
1. Make a weekly menu for your meals.
a. Use coupons - RELIGOUSLY.
b. Ensure you have a list when you go shopping and stick to it.
c. Eat prior to going shopping. If you can go by yourself - do this will avoid the kids saying "Mommy can I have?"
d. Buy store/house items - places like Harris Teeter offer a money back policy if you buy their brand and don't like it.
3. Make your husband's lunch EVERY DAY. This save about $200 per month.
4. If you have access to public transportation - use it.
5. If you have more than two cars - dump one - the one you can get the most money for.

Now comes the hard part - dealing with your money issues on a daily basis. Money is the one thing that tears most couples apart.

Sit down and combine all your debt together. How did you get to this place - medical bills, education? Or was it the "see it, want it, buy it"? That's how we got into our mess and we were is serious debt (we had a credit card with a $30K limit because we had been with them so long). This isn't a blame session - you need to find out how you got here so you can learn from this experience. Just paying your debt off isn't going to work for you if you can't figure out HOW you got there in the first place.

Ask yourself these questions:
1. Where can I cut back?
a. Can I lower my cell minutes or get rid of it entirely?
b. Can I remove features from the phone and cable?
c. Can I set up a plan with our gas and electric company?

Now that you've figured out how you got here. Figure out what you can afford to pay, etc.

Step 3 - TALK with the creditors. Don't assume they know anything and certainly don't assume they won't work with you - they WANT their money. Tell them what you can afford to pay - most likely they will work with you. If not - ask for their supervisor.

If you are working outside the home right now - put all that you can afford to towards your debt. It's not an easy process - trust me. I know how hard it is when you see that maternity dress that you want/need - being pregnant is a short-term thing. If you can find things on ebay or at garage sales - do it. You can turn around and sell it again when you are done with it.

Get money flowing from the house - most American's live in excess - if you haven't used it in 3 months - set it in a pile and have a garage sale or start an ebay account. Then get selling. Kids toys usually sell VERY well on ebay. Garage sales - they sale, but for cheap. Although it does add up.

My husband and I went on a "CASH ONLY" basis. It was the hardest thing we EVER did - no kidding. It took us about 2 years to pay it all off - we now have about 6 months of my husband's salary in savings and no debt except for our home. Our cars have been paid for. Everything like mortgage, cable, cell phone, etc. are on autopay so we don't have to worry about it.

Please feel free to contact me privately. You don't need to spend money on a book when this is something you can do yourself.

God Bless you.

Best regards.

Cheryl

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C.H.

answers from Grand Rapids on

I have to agree with Katsy. We didn't really have money this year for birthday presents because we were always living paycheck to paycheck. My husband wanted to go see Dave Ramsey Live when he was in GR in Feb. For the 2 of us to go it would have been $70 plus the babysitter for 3 kids. I just decided to spend the $109 and give my husband the Dave Ramsey FPU classes for his birthday. We are now life members and can take the classes over and over for free. It changed our lives in the short 3 months it took to take the class. We have so much money saved. I always have the money I need when the time comes and we actually have some left over to pay ahead debt. I have never been able to say that in the 10 years that we have been married. It takes strict adherence to your budget, but once you are in the habit it is easy and feels so good. We haven't used a credit card in almost 2 years, but we finally had the courage to cut them up.

We made some HORRIBLE financial choices and couldn't get back up on our feet. Before Dave Ramsey, we were a mess. We signed up with a Credit counseling company out of desperation. It was not worth the money. They charged 3% of our total debt and basically were the liason between us and the creditors. We were served court papers because they advised us to stop paying so the creditors would see that we didn't have enough money. Then we got so behind with them, we couldn't pay them to get caught up. I am sure our credit is ruined and we could have done it all ourselves without adding more money owed to them. Please don't use a company!

Like I said, we were served court papers and what really worked was the Dave Ramsey. I told the company that we were in FPU and that I would show the judge our budget that had our money spent down to the penny and that I didn't have the money that they were asking for. He (Dave Ramsey) holds so much weight and is respected that they offered us a settlement because 1. They knew we were changing our behavior and 2. the money was all right there in the open, allocated to billed.

I've rambled enough, but I no longer cry over finances, I can sleep, my stomach doesn't hurt and I am teaching my kids morals that I can be proud of. They know "credit cards are evil" and that when they see the money is out of the envelopes that we are done for the pay period.

Good luck! It will feel so good when you are done.

C.

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K.J.

answers from San Antonio on

I 2nd the Dave Ramsey comments - we did it- and we are now debt free except thee house. We also led the class at our church - highly reccomend it- our group of 10 or so paid off a total of $55,000 during 3 months of the class! (4 couples - 2 singles) The TMMO book is a great intro- but the class gives you so much more! (Real Estate- Life Insurance- Investing- on top of the debt snowball, saving and budgeting techniques.) BONUS side note- every one of the couples in the class said they felt much better about their MARRIAGE- finally on the same page with their finances- not arguing about it every day/week/paycheck. Which is exactly what we found in FPU after 12 yrs of marriage- we finally had the tools needed to succeed at building a FUTURE- not just living month to month. OH the stress level is drastically dropped in your own life and in your home. I always wished they had found a different name for it- more catchy or something- but you truly do experience a peace that is undescribable! I would check out the site at www.daveramsey.com click FPU - and see if there are any classes in your area?? Or consider seeing him LIVE around the country- that usually gets you on a deeper level- better than listening to him on the radio or online. You can see the tears well up in his eyes when he says.. "c'mon- I want you to be free- c'mon- you can do it- we will help you". Tickets are only like $25(church group)- 30 (online retail)- but also very much worth it! Seeing him LIVE really kicked us into high gear & we got rid of $50K in about 1 1/2 yrs! The 3 month (1x a week) FPU will cost around $100- but it is SOO WORTH IT! Cheapest marriage counseling you will EVER find!! :-)
Plus you are a lifetime FPU member- so you can catch up on any classes you missed - or just take say "investing" at any class going on anywhere for the rest of your life!? And-they give you CD copies of all the 13 lessons so you can listen again- we always take them on road trips- and I am always hearing things I never caught the first time through!?
We posted our little "debt free" video on you tube- but you can see mayn many stories on DAve and people becoming debt free on you tube if you just search for them- they even have some FPU stuff on there - posted up from the lampo group. ENJOY- PASS IT ON and I WILL PRAY FOR YOU!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iZSUG_JuhQ

BLESSINGS!
K.

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S.H.

answers from San Francisco on

My husband and I have started using Dave Ramsey's plan and find it to be very effective.

In addition to that, I subscribe to Grocerygame.com. This is a website that provides weekly lists of rock bottom sales from grocery stores and drug stores. I get a list for Safeway, Walgreens, and CVS. I save 50-70% on most trips and have my grocery bill down to about $60 a week for my family of 4-and that is a full cart of groceries including produce and meat. Before we were spending at least $150. I apply my savings to pay off our credit card debt. You can try the trial membership for 1 month for a $1. It's actually pretty fun.

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B.S.

answers from San Antonio on

B.;

My husband and I are debt free including the house as of February '09 and all because if Dave Ramsey. You are right. It's a matter of knowing where all the money goes. When we sat down and simply tracked what we spent over a two week period in the end of October, we were nauseated. You can make all the excuses in the world (birthdays, Christmas, party, etc) but until you buckle down and say we're going to change, you won't.

I also subscribe to the Grocerygame.com and (when we follow it) we also saved a ton of money stocking up on items before we need them.

You'll get through it and the feeling on the other side (of being in debt) is indescribable. We took a trip with our boys in February, paid cash the whole way, and had the best time of our lives. We're leaving again in a week for another vacation with them - something we never would have been able to do before.

Hang in there.....

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E.G.

answers from Honolulu on

Hi B....
I am a Debt and Loan Modification consultant. We help everyone who may be experiencing financial hardship with modification on mortgages and on unsecured debt (credit cards, loans). The Legal firm goes to bat for the consumer to negotiate down between 40-60% of the credit card debt. It is a huge savings! The repayment plan is what is most affordable for the consumer, either 3 or 4 years or longer.
With an affordable monthly payment, you have a chance to get back on track. We do the same with mortgages.
You can contact me on email: [email protected]____.com or ph ###-###-####. Cheers, E. Giles

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M.B.

answers from Denver on

Hi B.,
I know this is late but I had to respond! We aslo did Dave Ramsey and it works,it is not easy but it will change your life and truly create peace! I reccomend you and hubby sit down and do an entire yearly budget with only neccesities, then calculate it out month by month. And this is only neccesities, like house( including a moderate repair budget for emergency repairs), food, water, energy, medical( co-pays). No vacations, cable, large cell phone minutes, you get it! Listen to Dave Ramsey's show and get the books, take the class! I can't tell you how much better it feels to have financial security than it did to buy whatever I was getting in the moment or having the new car, I just love my paid for car, I am driving it as long as possible! By the way, getting rid of car payments is a great first step if you can! And by all means, no more credit cards!!!!!!!!!!!! And don't use those services, you can do this yourself! You have to change your behavior, that's what works!

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C.M.

answers from Albany on

Hi B.,

I have used CCCA it's a credit counciling business. I had 32,000 in credit card debt. It was paid off in 4 years. They did charge a slight fee of $5.00 a month. Which was nothing in what I saved. They got most of the Credit Card companies to drop their interest rate, some lowered it. It worked very well for me. I say give it a try and use the Dave Ramsey way for the future. I have never heard of this but it seems a lot of people recommend it. Good Luck. It's not easy. It also does not ruin your credit. Which is the most important thing. C.

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M.M.

answers from Detroit on

My husband and I have been doing the Dave Ramsey Plan for just over a year and we have paid off almost $12,000-still have a ways to go, but it is invigorating to seeing our debt actually go down! This is on top of our household income going down by 20% due to cuts. Before Dave Ramsey, we lived paycheck to paycheck, paying our bills on the day they were due. Now, all our bills are paid early, because we have a plan for our money. We tried to follow other debt reduction programs and nothing worked-for 8 years we tried and continued to go further and deeper into debt. Dave Ramsey is no-nonsense type of guy. I wish we had found him a long time ago!

Good Luck! :)

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K.J.

answers from Raleigh on

Depending on your situation I would recommend researching and doing a comparison on all of these suggestions. It is worth the time. I recently had a baby girl and she was born 8 weeks early. We did have "one of the best"- or most prominent health insurances- but the portions not covered were astronomical. She is a healthy & happy baby- but that situation combined with my small business credit card debt was overwhelming. I did get in touch with the credit card companies- and they were willing to negotiate. I also spoke with a government approved credit counseling company who went over how they could get the interest rates lowered for me- and how to do a budget- which was very elementary/basic. I also spoke with credit couseling "services" and they basically have you default on your credit card payments- your credit tanks, they negotiate a write off of approximately 40-60% of the debt, charge you a montly fee & accumulate your money, as well as collect their fee and then pay off one creditor at a time. However there is no real way of making sure that the debt it written off. I then consulted a bankruptcy attorney. With bankruptcy my ability to recover is much more likely. A certain amount of your assets are protected in bankruptcy, but it really depends on a variety of things- that you would need to go over with them. Most bankruptcy attorneys will consult with you for free in an initial consultation. Good Luck & Study the different options- don't rely to heavily on what just anyone tells you- because a lot of people are well intended but do not know your situation well enough to give good advice. What worked for them may not work for you because the facts and situations are different.
Good Luck

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E.K.

answers from Atlanta on

B.,

I just saw your post...my husband and I just signed up for CCCS. We have over 20,000 in debt and my job had cut me down to 20% pay since May with that we started to have trouble with the minimum payments. So one night we committed. We just made our first payment to them and it will save us $350 per month! You can set up your payments weekly or monthly which also helps! Feel free and email me directly for more info.

Best of Luck!

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K.Z.

answers from Cleveland on

Hi B.,

I know I am coming in late but this is the first I have seen your post.

I have not used a credit counseling agency, but if you do, find one that does not charge a fee. I believe if you look up Consumer Credit Counseling Service in your phone book they are the ones who don't charge a fee. I like the idea of checking with the Better Business Bureau.

Also I didn't see anyone mention tracking your expenses and looking at what you can cut. Sometimes that is an eye-opener.

Along with tracking your expenses, consider whether it is worth it for you to work. I know that sounds weird, but sometimes if you figure out what your hourly wage is, you see it in a different light. Other factors besides money, of course, play into that decision; just something to think about.

As someone said, pack lunches and do your own coffee, meals etc. at home. Cut back on meat to save money. Junk food too.

Good luck!

K. Z.

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M.C.

answers from Dallas on

Hi B.,

Looks like you've received some great advice. I have read one of Dave Ramsey's books and agree that his strategies make great sense. One thing you may want to consider as well for extra income, tax benefits and financial security is having a business of your own.

I am building a team of 5 financially free champions over the next 2-5 years. These are mainly women who are tired of their kids being raised by daycare workers, and yet anyone looking for more control over their life and their finances is eligible! If you would like more info, email me through Mamasource for details. Only contact me if you are ready for change!

To your prosperity,

M.

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S.B.

answers from Colorado Springs on

I just got an email that had your outcome on it. I'm so glad you chose Dave Ramsey! I love his programs! And he is just great to listen to as well - he actually gets you excited about a budget and finances! I haven't actually read any of his books, but my husband and I did his Financial Peace University class series at our church when we were first married - it is offered at many churches, and is totally worth the time and money to go through the course!!! It is a great way to get going, if you haven't already. I also listen to him on the radio any morning that I am in the car - in Colorado Springs he is on 1240 AM every weekday morning.

I'm not sure when you actually posted that you got his book, but I hope that everything is going well!
S.

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J.C.

answers from Detroit on

Don;t know if its to late for you Just got on this Mamasource thing. Try calling your local Primerica Financial Services agent. They can help you get your financial situation in hand or go to www.primerica.com. Dont know what area you are in but they are 100,000 strong in the USA.

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M.W.

answers from Detroit on

I used credit counselors years ago, it was a joke. Have you considered bankruptcy (BK)? My hubby had to file bankruptcy and a year later in March 2009, he purchased a new used car with 13k miles on it and was approved with only $500.00 down. If your debt is large now, it will most likely only get worse if your having a hard time paying minimum payments. You can file a chapter 7 wiping all debt clean and as long as you are never later after that, you will be surprised just how quick you can be back in order. You'd only file a chapter 7 BK on unsecured debt and for instance, if you have a credit card with a zero balance, you would not file on that. Or if you needed to file a chapter 13, you could file on everything and have 1 monthly payment for up to 5 years and include the home & car and still keep them because you would be paying for them. But honestly, keep up on the vehicles & home and whatever you intend to keep and file a chapter 7 because it's much quicker to rebound financially. Good luck to you.

M. in Camden, MI

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J.B.

answers from Kansas City on

B.- My husband and I are getting ready to do the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University program. Our church is sponsoring the classes- anyone is welcome to join the group! It is so helpful to know that you are not the only ones worrying about finances and living paycheck to paycheck. Let me know if you would like to join the group! Best of luck.

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S.W.

answers from Boca Raton on

Most of them are scams. Call me anytime to discuss. I have been through debt management, bankruptcy and foreclosure.
I will be happy to talk with you and your husband and at least share my experiences.
In no way sign any contract with a company that will only take your money.
There are methods of paying down debt. Letters to write to the credit card companies...we have to be informed.
Blessings, S.

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E.S.

answers from Chicago on

I agree that if you can rethink your spending that's the best approach, coupled with getting your credit card companies to lower the interest and some even stop accruing interest if you show a commitment to pay the debt. If all else fails, I strongly recommend you look into a bankruptcy, either Chapter 13 (where you repay a lot of it) or Chapter 7 (where you are discharged from most of it if you qualify). As a mortgage lender, I can tell you that credit counseling messes up your credit even more than bankruptcy does and rarely gets your bills paid off. The credit counselors charge a large fee to do the same things you can do. They call the creditor and negotiate a payoff after they have received enough money from you to do so. All that time goes by and your payments are just reported late each month. You could do the same exact thing without paying the fee. But that would mess up your credit as well. The best thing is to renegotiate your rate and work out a budget to repay it off and then look into bankruptcy if it still isn't working.
Good luck!

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S.S.

answers from Chicago on

B., We tried doing that. My husband did a bunch of research. He thought that Debt Shield was a good one to go thru. IT WAS NOT. We paid in more than $3000 and they paid nothing off of the bills. They make you set up a payment plan and then don't pay anything towards what you owe until you have paid their fee first. then each month of the $150 payment we made they got something like $70 as a fee. It was a huge ripoff. They take your total amount owed and then you pay them a fee of 30% of that. the key is they tell you they can get the creditors to settle for x amount. sometimes the creditors don't settle for the lesser amount. and biggie here they are not required to stop harrasing you just becuase you are going thru a credit counciling place. we ended up doing a bankruptcy to get rid of ours. most of it was medical stuff but there were credit cards also. pretty stressful time we are having right now in the economy.

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J.M.

answers from Tulsa on

I know this is very late - I apparently missed your first post asking for advice. All I want to say is to be aware of what happens AFTER all of the negotiations. Come January, after the bill is paid in full, you will start receiving 1099s in the mail. If you have a debt and you (or whatever service you choose to use) negotiate to pay a certain percentage of it and you successfully do then the remaining balance that you were not required to pay then is treated at income and you will have to pay taxes on it. Basically you got whatever the unpaid balance had bought for free so it's looked upon by Uncle Sam as being just given to you. Income is anything you receive and never pay for. Stores don't give gifts. This tidbit of info is never shared with you either by the service or by the person you negotiated with from the company you owe. It happened to me and I have since asked everyone I know who has been in this situation and NONE of us were ever informed of this. I even asked a debt counselor why clients aren't told of this and he said that there is so much info given out and the people are so upset in the beginning that hearing about having to pay a tax would be so overwhelming so they never mention it. It is in some of the extremely very fine print on the back of some credit card bills or inserts that come with the bills.

We finally got out of debt but ended up paying taxes on over
$25,000 and that amount put us into another tax bracket. So we lost all the way around and ended up have a horrible credit rating that seems to follow us forever!!

Good luck!
J.

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T.G.

answers from Rockford on

I know you have gotten a lot of good responses but I thought I would add in my .02 as well.

Dave Ramsey is very good. I know a couple churches in the area that are doing his financial peace workshops and I have heard good things about them. Plus you could also just pick up his book for cheap.

You can get some of your credit card companies to negotiate with you but we found that 2 of our 3 big ones weren't too willing until we missed a couple payments and they started panicking that they might not get anything. It sucked because our credit took a major hit - it was a 100+ point drop.

We also looked into credit counseling as well. We went to Family Credit Management as recommended by our church. www.familycredit.org They have a local office in Rockford but you can also do things over the phone There are some real scams out there but that is a good one. They met with us 3 times and talked over our options. They were able to get us set up on a plan to get it all paid off in 4 years with interest rates ranging from 0-10%. Fees were minimal. Our monthly costs for paying off debt only dropped slightly but the debt was actually going to get paid off. They do let you keep a card for emergencies. She explained that our credit would take a little bit of a hit at first because so many accounts would be closed at once but after that things would improve as it would show on-time payments being made. However, after our third meeting there, the counselor very honestly asked us if we had considered bankrupcy. She was concerned that we wouldn't be able to keep up with our payments and then we would basically get "kicked off" the program and our cc companies would be able to charge us mile high interest and fees. We were really hoping to avoid that. She gave us a couple books on the subject and the name of someone else we could talk to about the details. I have started to look at the books but we are still undecided. We have just been squeaking by so we will have to come to some conclusion soon as to whether to continue on our own, try the credit counseling or declare bankrupcy.

Good luck with your decision.

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T.G.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi B. - I'm not sure about debt counseling, but maybe along with that, you can study the principals in Amy Dacyczyn's book The Tightwad Gazette. Get it from the library if you can, but you'll probably want to have a copy to keep as I've read mine numerous times (and that's saying a lot, being that it's 950 pages!) - I devour it! She had a newsletter for years and this is a compilation of her advice and strategies to make the most of life with less money. No deprivation, just conscious choices - "promoting thrift as an alternative lifestyle". She lives in a pre-1900 farmhouse with 6 kids and did it on one modest income (until her success with the newletter made them millionaires). Great information, not only about having a better relationship with your personal economy, but with ecology as well. It has saved the "life" of myself and many others...get your life back!

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K.K.

answers from Springfield on

My husband and I are recent graduates of Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. If there is one thing that every single American should spend their money on - it's Dave Ramsey. He is an incredible teacher - has great advice from 'God and Grandma' and everything he teaches you about is attainable, no matter your situation. He teaches in baby steps.

I wish it was part of high school ciriculum and college and everyone got it for their wedding gift. You will ENJOY the class, the book - whichever you choose. I hope you can eventually do the class. It's for your famiy and a lifetime membership (meaning you can go to any class any time forever!!)

ENJOY getting yourself on the right track!
(During the 13 weeks of FPU, we changed our lives!!)
K.

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J.C.

answers from Chicago on

I don't have experience, but these links might help -

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre13.shtm

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre26.shtm

I would also try giving Lisa Madigan's office a call if there's a specific agency you're considering. (Illinois Attorney General's office). I don't see anything on their consumer pages that is helpful offhand, but I'm sure they have a list somewhere of agencies under investigation in Illinois. http://www.ag.state.il.us/consumers/

Good luck to you and your family.

I really hope that the new attention on the banking industry practices, and bankruptcy laws (side effect of current financial crisis) will end up bringing some reforms that will help consumers in the long run. For example - Isn't it weird that you can walk away from a mortgage, even if the house is worth a fraction of what the mortgage is - but not credit card debt? Should be the opposite. At least mortgage rates don't change with no warning or cap!

ETA - these articles may be of interest too: http://consumerist.com/5165573/how-to-find-reputable-cred... and http://consumerist.com/tag/credit-repair/

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T.N.

answers from Houston on

I know this is late, but I want to encourage you to actaully take the Dave Ramsey seminar. We just finished and I was very hesitant because I was unemployed, but it was the best $100 I ever spent. I think you would get so much more from the seminar and you would get so much more encouragement. I don't know where you live but Central Baptist Church near Katy may be offering it again in a few months (phone ####-###-####)and I believe Bear Creek Baptist will be starting one soon. They are located on Fry Road near Clay Road, north of I-10. It will be the best investment you make. Plus you get a CD of each class so you can go back at anytime for a refresher class.

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L.L.

answers from Chicago on

Hi B.,
We are going through debt management now. So, one whole month in, it is going well. They took the payment and the payments were given to the right people. We have the peace of mind. They make you come to the right decision of what to give up and I trust them. In four years, we will be largely debt free. That assumes that we don't have to pay something out of the blue. We have a credit card that is safe, usable and low interest for emergencies. While we are giving up cable, one health club and some much smaller things(magazines, books to purchase..), it is still okay. All that for $32 a month on top of our payment. You can back out once you need or want to as well.
We went through CCCS, a suggested resource from my husband's company. CCCS is the retention department of some of the major companies that happily raise your interest rate and the minimum. You just have to get your creditors to alter their date due to accommodate the timing of the payment every month.
I now appreciate a great garage sale and sleep better at night knowing that we won't lose our house. Tap your mom networks, freepeat.com(.org?)and freecycle.com for stuff that you need.

Good luck making the hard decisions!

L. L.

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D.L.

answers from Atlanta on

I know that you have decided to go with Dave Ramsey, but just get the book from the library, don't waste your money buying it. We went last year and the program has brought us closer, we are now on the same page, and heading toward Finanacial Peace. If you go through the church it's even a few dollars cheaper. And the coupons, excellent. I saved over $75.00 last shopping trip! My grandchildren were shocked. It takes longer, but well-worth it! We stopped credit cards over a year ago and they do not exist in our lives anymore, ever again! We just wish we had done this years ago and agree this course should be in the schools!!! We no longer eat out, first of all we cook better than most restaurants and when we figured out how much we spent in one month (over $400.00) we became ill. I don't feel deprived at all. Our cars are paid for and our lives are more peaceful. And, Dave Ramsey is a Christian and teaches those values. God Bless you.

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T.C.

answers from Chicago on

We also used Dave Ramsey and it has been a real change for us. He focuses on a change in spending and behavior, so there is little chance that you will end up in the same boat 5 years from now. I won't lie, it is sacrifce, but it is WELL worth it. Dave Ramsey tells people to NEVER use credit management companies. The reason being that A) there is no change in behavior, and B) they ruin your credit score to settle you debts. He is very faith based, which I love. It really helps you see the meaninglessness of stuff. Opens your eyes to what is really needed instead of just wanted. It also helps teach your children the right way to handle money, and believe me I do not want my son or daughter to EVER get messed up with debt. We started just this past January with his program and have paid off over $2000 in debt. We are on our last 2 debts and are so excited to hopefully have it all paid off by December. Total life changing experience. If you get WKRS 1220 AM on your radio, his talk show is on there from 1-4pm daily. And the stories keep you inspired to pay off debt the right way and keep it off. People making less than my husband and I do, and having much more debt, getting it all gone in less than 2 years. Great stories like that. Check it out and good luck!!!!!

L.H.

answers from Chicago on

Do not use a credit counselor. I tried it a few years back and it was a total rip. They didn't start paying on anything until they got (I figured over 11,0000) and I would have had to have done all this mailing out to my Credit Card companies telling them what I was doing so they wouldn't harras me. My debt if I had called would have been wipped clean for a lot under 11,000. So each year with my income tax return I have paid off the big ones one by one and the small ones during the year. May take sometime now but at least it is getting done. That is my advice.

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D.N.

answers from Chicago on

There are a ton of debt agencies out there. Unfortunately a lot of them charge high fees, don't do as promised or don't pay the money to your debt. You have to really research this. There was one that was recommended by the BBB but it was a while ago. It might have been Consumer Credit Counseling but not sure. One thing you might try to do yourself is call the creditors and tell them you would like a lower rate. Sometimes consumers can be successful working with the creditors without paying a ton of money to someone else. With the economy as it is, some creditors are starting to be more willing to work things out by doing smaller payments for a few months. BThere aer good counselors out there if yu do go this route but you have to be very careful. Bankrate.com is a great resource for all financial issues. You might try it and go tothe debt tab. They have tons of reference info and columns talking about all kinds of things. good luck

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B.A.

answers from Chicago on

Call your credit card company right away and ask for a supervisor. Tell them your situation and see if they will lower your interest rate and give you a set amount to pay every month and be okay with them closing your account so they can accomplish this. Then commit to paying off this debt. If you are a stay at home Mom then start doing daycare for others to earn extra cash or work on the days or times your husband has off, only use this money to pay off the debt. I understand you are pregnant, but the sooner you get this debt paid off the easier your life/marriage/relationship with your children will be.
Save where you can, create a strict budget. If you or your husband eat out/drink coffee out/spend any extra cash stop, now. If you are absolutely unable to work outside the house. Do what you can to save within...and possible hubby can either pick up extra hours or get a part time job to get you out the hole. Also do not default on mortgage and don't roll it into your mortgage as if you need to declare bankruptcy later you can still save your home if you are not behind in the mortgage. I don't suggest any of the refinancing/debt consolidation deals or opening a new credit card as that just gives you more credit to play with. If you are at a point where you can't afford to live where you are living...time to bite the bullet and downsize. If you owe on cars, figure out if you need the vehicles you own or if you could give up one or both that you owe on and get cheaper ones that you can afford that will get you from point A to B. I know it's hard to reign it all in, but it'll feel so good after it is done and you don't live on anything you haven't yet earned.

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K.B.

answers from Chicago on

We used the Dave Ramsey Total Money Makeover book. You can get the workbook for it instead and I think it does about the same thing as far as providing you info. A friend had told me about it for years and I never really paid attention. Then we really needed to get our credit card debt paid off to stop living paycheck to paycheck. You can get the books from the library for free or buy them online. They aren't that expensive. The concepts are basic, and he's a funny and interesting writer. It's just basically about making sure you list EVERYTHING and be honest with each other about what you guys charge or buy. Then he gives you specific strategies like snowballing your debt. We used it, and have gotten much of our debt paid off in about a year and a half.

It's gives you a sense of control and accomplishment when you take responsibility and can get things paid off yourself. I highly recommend his book.

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W.M.

answers from Buffalo on

The most important thing is to learn how to use your money effectively, and have a system that adjusts to the financial challenges that will come up - car breaks down, etc. A lot of the programs or systems either take a "band-aid" approach or are so rigid, people give up when they can't stick to the program.

I have information on my Homeschooling-Freedom site and you can access the debt information directly at DebtFreeWorks.com

I am scheduled to pay off the house I just bought as a recent single, homeschooling mom in less than 8 yrs.

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