Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Trying to Avoid a Credit Debacle

Yesterday I spoke with someone about getting some help with my credit card debt. Last year I was getting close to having my credit cards paid off. I could have been done probably in December. But I wasn't working much earlier in the year, as I wasn't feeling well, and in May cancer announced itself.

I had debt on several cards, but didn't want to be paying on several cards. One card offered me a low transfer rate. My minimum monthly payment was only about a hundred and some dollars. Some told me "screw the credit cards." But I didn't want to. So I paid the fee and I transferred everything on to one card, hoping that by the time the interest rate would be 13.99%, I would be in a better place.

Well. I am now in 13.99% land, and as a result my monthly payment will easily be $300+, and that is just the minimum. I did a calculation, and at the interest rate, with the amount owed, it will take some obscene amount of time to pay it off. I think it was something like 356 months. Even if I am healthy, I don't even know if I got that kind of time left!

It is crazy.

The guy treated me like I was a loser. He sounded so pompous. So arrogant. Like I had a problem. Well, yes. I have had a problem. But not the one he thinks. So much of that money is fees and interest. So much of that money is me trying to have a business. It is not like I went out and had a grand ole time. If I had, at least I would feel a bit better about the mess. And, on top of it all, I am dealing with cancer. It's not like I chose to be in the situation I am in.

He asked me if I had a second car, or a mortgage. He suggested I sell my things. As if (1) that was easy to do, and (2) as if I had anything of any real value. He told me about credit counseling. He also told me that I would no longer have any credit cards at all if I used their service.

The irony, perhaps, is that I am current and actually have GOOD CREDIT.

I had called the credit card company and asked if they could lower my interest rate, based on the fact that I had good credit. Nope. But I could try back in several months.

I don't dare tell them yet what is really going on with me. The last time I expressed concern - even though I was still current -  they said "thanks for sharing, we're sorry to hear it, and by the way, we are lowering your amount of available credit limit."

After the call, I thought about approaching them and asking about a settlement. At least if I settle with them, I will only have to give up one card. I don't want to give them all up. What if I have an emergency? I don't want to use a card, but if I have to. As it is, I started to use another card several months ago, and it is nearly at $2000, but it has given me more cash to use for other things. But then there is the "small" matter of coming up with a chunk of settlement money.

I also found out, perhaps, ironically, that I would be better off having my debt on various cards, then there would be a longer time to pay back the debt.

With all that transpired. it is clear to me that  I am supposed to somehow feel good about them screwing - um, helping - me.

I don't want to care about this. But life is hard enough right now. I don't need my credit in the tank, too. The guy even suggested that I go to the bank and get a loan? "Would a bank give someone with no income, and who has applied for Disability a loan?" "No, probably not." So knowing those things, why the heck did he say something so stupid?!

Where are the people and institutions that REALLY want to help? I am trying. I really am. But there is a fine line between trying and giving up. And I am really getting scared. I don't want to cross it. But every day it is getting harder and harder to get out of bed.

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