I’m Really Confused About What You Do. – MizMiller

“Dear Steve,

I am writing to you as a frustrated consumer who is trying to research the best way to get rid of my debt. In my research, I’ve come upon your website and I feel more confused than ever. Like so many others, I’m searching for a little hope, which you seem to promise as a debt management bulldog who gives “big hugs” for free. What I get from reading your site, however, is a mixed message.

After reading a few of your posts and articles, I’ve come away with thinking perhaps the best solution is to file bankruptcy, since every debt consolidation company is for “suckers”. If that’s true, why do you give Cambridge Credit Counselors the shout out? Consumeraffairs.com has some of the worst things to say about them.

Since I’m looking for some honest advice myself, I’m hoping you will be up front about your own personal situation. I was all ready to receive your “big hug” for financial success when I read you filed for bankruptcy yourself back in the 90’s. Teach what you know, I guess, but could you tell us all how you’re doing now? Have you lived totally debt free since then? If so, what have been the results of financial success from following your own advice?

Please forgive me, but I just feel frustrated. When a someone states, “These are the bad guys and these are the bad guys – but trust me”, I’m left wondering why I should… especially when your website has so many spelling and grammatical errors. I don’t claim to be an expert, but your lack of proofreading is disheartening to those of us looking for real help. Your website says you care, but just not enough to ensure what you’re saying makes any sense!

So, dear Steve, as long as we’re searching for transparency to “the truth”, how is it that you can “totally help me for free”? Obviously you get paid for your referrals and convince yourself you hold no responsibility for those who advertise on your website because it’s too much work to weed out the ‘bad actors’. Every director gets to choose his actors unless ordered by some studio executive. So, since it is your website, why can’t you hold to a higher standard of who advertises on your website? You end up looking just as shady as the bad guys… but as long as they’re paying for the advertising, what do you care, right? Thanks for the big hug.

Consumers like me would really like to know the real stepping stones it takes to be successful, not just, ‘stop your credit card spending and pay down your debt.’ My nine year old can give me that advice.

These are the answers I’m looking for… not self-serving, random photos (everybody wants to do what they love to do, Dude – showcasing your artistic endeavors doesn’t help). How about blogging some personal financial success stories instead? You got down to the “nitty-gritty” of how you failed financially, but how are you successful now and why? That’s what people want to know.

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Thanks for listening to the rant.

MizMiller”

Dear MizMiller,

You raised a number of good points and I’d like to address them.

First, on the typo issue. I’d be ever so grateful if you spot them to use the ‘Report a Typo’ link at the top of the article to report them. Obviously we make an effort to get it right the first time but with the pace at which we deal with issues and trying to keep up with questions and stories, mistakes happen. And even though we rely on spellcheck and grammar check when writing, stuff slips through. Who knew ‘thais’ is a correctly spelled word?

You came away with an impression that filing bankruptcy might be better, and it just might be. I’d say I suggest bankruptcy about 80% of the time and some criticize me for it. Last year I wrote “I Suggest Bankruptcy Too Often, So Say Some” to address that issue.

The reality is that you can’t start with the solution and work backwards, you need to start with the underlying situation and then match the appropriate solution with the situation in order to achieve the desired goal.

Part of the selection process is to understand the success rates of each of the solutions as well. See “The Truth About The Success Rates, Failure Rates and Completion Rates of Credit Counseling, Debt Settlement, and Bankruptcy.”

Now while I do suggest that some people pursue credit counseling, those numbers are low and when I think it is appropriate, you can even hear in my recent interview with the CEO of a credit counseling group the low number of people that call them and are appropriate for a debt management plan. Listen to Howard Dvorkin, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services on New Debt Settlement Rules and you’ll hear Howard discuss this.

You wondered why I like Cambridge Credit Counseling and this article addresses their history and where they are now.

You wondered if I live debt free. No I don’t. I have a mortgage and a motorcycle payment for example. I also spend a good bit of money eating out. Since I work from home all the time and not around people during the day I find going out to eat gives me a welcome break and let’s me stretch my legs.

I probably spend more eating out as a percentage of income than most but there is no right way to spend your money. Ultimately if you spend less than you make, meet your obligations, save some and have fun, that’s the best you can do.

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But for me the goal is not to live debt free, but to live a life in balance. I guess my life has been a success story. Following my bankruptcy I have never had financial problems again.

Thinking that you need to live in a credit barren land as an answer would not be wise. Credit is a tool and debt, run amuck, is a detriment. In fact, debt is nothing more than pledging future labor for something you get right now.

I’ve written before about how people can never really be debt free even if they don’t owe a credit card company. You will always be in debt to taxes, dues, insurance, the need to eat, etc. There will always be some obligation on you that must be repaid through labor and earning.

I think I do a really good job of talking about the ads here. If we lived in a perfect world there would not be ads on television, radio or in print. The only reason I can spend time to help people for free is because of the ads on the site.

As far as personal financial success following the debt emergency, I’m not your guy for that. Even though I once was a registered investment adviser I really find that stuff utterly boring and there are a ton of other sites out there to help people with those issues. I’m the emergency room doctor, not the dietician.

And yes, I do like to publish a photo of the day, because photography is something I love and I want to encourage others to follow their passion to feed their soul, even in the dark days of debt.

Yes, ask your nine year old son, getting out of debt is not rocket science. If you spend less than you make you can use the extra money to reduce your debt. Finding extra money is either increasing income, reducing expenses or a combination of the both. That’s not the tough part. The tough part is trying to see through the fog of financial trouble, to weigh the emotional aspect of debt and overcome the underlying issues that led you there.

If you are looking for a person that cares, can offer you free advice, has walked in those shoes, loves photography and even makes some typos, then I’m your guy. If you don’t think I can help you then I wish you well on your journey to find the right, free, independent adviser for you.

In the end I have to defer to those wise words from the philosopher Popeye. “I yam what I yam, and that’s all what I yam”

Please update me on your progress by Big Hug! <-- [adinserter block="4"] [adinserter block="5"] [adinserter block="5"]

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