Buried in credit card debt
- Thursday, May 04, 2000
Question: We are in need of some kind of financial help. We are currently $30,000 in credit card/medical debt. Is there a time in someone's life you feel it is the only alternative to claim bankruptcy? We have also thought about a credit counseling agency. We have been thinking about this for eight months now. I am really not behind in credit card payments, but a lot are maxed out, and it seems like they receive a payment a day or two late and sock me with a $29 late fee. I am desperate. Thank you for your advice.
Jonni says: Your situation is becoming all too common. We spend and spend, or we have a medical emergency, and we get in over our heads. Suddenly we realize that we can't keep up with the payments.
Medical bills account for 80 percent of all personal bankruptcies. But this does not give us the excuse of filing for bankruptcy. As Christians, I believe that we are responsible for our actions, and should not dump them in someone else's lap. That is what bankruptcy does; it leaves the bill with the creditors.
You mention that you are able to keep up with the payments, so bankruptcy shouldn't be an option. I would see a Consumer Credit Counselor instead. They offer credit counseling for no fee or a low fee. They can arrange for a better payment plan and perhaps for the creditors to stop assessing finance charges. They can be reached at (800) 388-CCCS.
I also think that contacting CCCS will help with your late fees. Some creditors purposely post payments late in order to get the fees. By getting CCCS involved, this should stop. Until you meet with CCCS, mail your payments two weeks before the due date so they are less likely to post them late.
My last piece of advice is to stop using credit. You mentioned that the cards are maxed out. It sounds like you may be using them for everyday life. We should be living within our means and only using credit for emergencies. Leave the credit cards at home. If a true emergency arises, you can usually get to them.
Have a question for Jonni? Send it to email@example.com; please put "Column Questions" in the subject field.
Jonni McCoy is the author of Miserly Moms: Living on One Income in a Two Income Economy. Buy it at Amazon.com!
Note: The advice given in this column is based upon personal information and experience. Click
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