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HELP! I am Drowning in Debt. – Barb

“Dear Steve,


I am divorced with a daughter that is a sophmore in college. I was getting $520.00/month child support until this past July. I have 5-credit cards with debt totaling approx $24,000.00. While getting child support, I was making the minimum payments and then turning around and using what little balance they had to make ends meet (grocries, gas, etc). The way I am going I will never pay off these debts.

Now that I am no longer receiveing child support, I do not have enough money to pay my credit card bills and provide the essentials for my daughter and myself. I had to may a choice and I chose not to pay the credit cards and use the little money left over after rent, utilities and car payment to buy food, gas, etc for the month.

I get paid once a month and I really have to stretch it. My daughter has been looking for a part-time job and I have too but we haven’t been able to find one. I have always paid all my bills on time. I am receiveing calls from the card companies for payment. They tell me that I have aways paid on time and have been a good customer. They want to work a plan with me but I don’t know how to go about negoiating with them.

They want to make automatic withdrawals from my checking account. I don’t want to commit to something I’m not sure that I can honor because then I would have no money for everyday living expenses, i.e. food, gas, etc. I don’t own a home and have used all my savings. I don’t have anyone to borrow money from and if I did I don’t know how I would repay them,

HELP! It appears to me that bankruptcy is my only option. If not what other options do I have? I appreicate any advice you have to offer


Dear Barb,

Living on the financial edge is scary. Actually it is terrifying. You never know when the next financial emergency is going to land in your lap. And it will.

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Without any savings or an emergency fund you are putting everyone else first. You send what little you can afford off but you leave yourself totally exposed and living month-to-month. That’s not smart and I need you to stop it right now.

The reality is that you probably just don’t have enough left after paying the basics to meet your commitments. And entering into a payment plan isn’t going to change that fact.

You were very wise not to give your creditors access to your checking account. They would take their payment out each month and on your threadbare budget you’d soon be unable to meet some other payment and bank charges would start to buildup from bounced checks.

I don’t think you have any logical solution other than bankruptcy at this point. You’ve been unable to find a second job and increase income and your expenses are to the bone already so dealing with the debts is the next step.

Find a local bankruptcy attorney you like, make an appointment for a free consultation, and go in and see them. Bankruptcy is not something to be afraid of. In your situation it will provide you with relief from debts you can’t afford nor possibly meet. Rather than be punished by bankruptcy you will finally be able to get some peace of mind and a fresh start.

Please update me on your progress by posting updates here in the comments section of your question. I’m very interested in how this works out for you.


You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.

P.S. Be sure to read ‘The Secret of Surviving Through Difficult Economic Times. What I Learned On My Journey‘.

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About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.


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