Get Out of Debt Guy

I Need to Make These Credit Card Bills Go Away

Posted August 27, 2013

WRAL Reader Question

Dear Steve,

Have two large credit card bills. One almost 6,000 with $160.00 monthly payment. Another credit card $1500 with $30.00 monthly payment.

It is almost getting to the point that the monthly payments exceed available cash each month. Also do not have a lot of savings at moment. I have part time job but it does not pay very much. Are there any options to try to pay off these credit cards?

Jean

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Dear Jean,

The simple answer is there is always an option.

Cases like this always come down to your ability to increase income, reduce expenses, or do both.

It would be a mistake to just focus on the credit card debt alone in reaching for a resolution. If you are unable to save money each month, build an emergency fund, and/or save for retirement, then the issues extend beyond just a couple of debts.

We also need to consider what the debt was caused by. Was it because you needed to make ends meet and wound up charging regular expenses?

Money problems are never about the debt. the debt is the symptom. We need to figure out what led you to this point and do something to alter that or you'll simply wind up in this spot again. Neither you nor I want that.

Since I don't know a lot about your situation, let's start with the handy-dandy get out of debt calculator. It will at least cover the bases of the major options.

Not that I want to assume too much from your question but you said the bills were "large" and that leads me to believe you may be struggling with income. For some people those bills would be perceived as small. The fact is the actual dollar amount does not matter. If they are too much, they are too much.

If you've been struggling to make enough income then consider looking into what public benefits you are entitled to. Visit Benefits.gov to see if there is any benefits you are eligible for. Every dollar in benefits you could get is a dollar less pressure on an otherwise tight budget.

As I mentioned before, saving is important. If you give this situation your best shot and you are still unable to pay the debts and save money at the same time we need to drastically change our focus.

Saving for emergencies and saving for retirement is so critical it can't be skipped even when getting out of debt. Focusing on just the debt would be like the captain of the Titanic focusing on a leaky faucet rather than the big iceberg ahead.

When you are unable to save for financial surprises it just takes one accidental expense to cause you to have to put that on credit and that starts to sink you again. What we need to do moving forward here is create a stable financial foundation from which you can grow. For more on the absolute need to focus on retirement and saving, read this.

And part of that fix might even include options that can give you a legal fresh start and second chance if you can't budget your way out of this growing black hole.

Steve

Steve Rhode
WRAL Get Out of Debt Guy

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1 Comment

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  • rachel Aug 28, 10:25 p.m.

    I do agree with your advice, that you frequently give, about building money for emergency situations. One thing I have noticed as time goes on and perhaps you have as well, is that without increasing your expenditures and just dealing with monthly routine bills, less and less is available for this cushion-unless you uproot your household and keep dropping down your lifestyle-as in from a house, to an apartment, to a trailer, to....you can be maintaining and saving-but expenses keep going up and salaries are frozen for many places-how does one go from making it and saving-to compensate for the increases in everything from food to gas without having to keep moving on down?-and I don't have credit cards,do save in a 401k plus a state retirement account, with only basic cable, basic phone service, auto insurance, utilities, and rent-I just notice my pay stays the same-everything around me is awarding themselves raises and increases and it gets tighter all the time. I feel bad for people.

About this Blog:

Steve Rhode has had careers in opthalmology, real estate and as the head of a nonprofit debt counseling firm. On his blog, he offers hard-won, free advice about getting out of debt, consolidation and making the right choices as you manage your money.