I Read Your Site and Now I Need Some Advice. – Jean

“Dear Steve,

I have read some of your answers to others a few times now and thought I would dive in too.

I have myself deep in debt; mostly credit cards but a few vehicles and student loans. I’ve borrowed from my 401k too so nothing there to help me. Not only did I get myself in debt but my husband lent me credit cards to use for balance transfers and I ran his cards up too.

I went on a major spending and gambling spree. I don’t know what came over me. I’ve never been this irresponsible before in my life ever! I’m always the responsible one in my family.

Anyway, my credit card debt is now almost 80k. I have two cars that are upside down. One is my sons and I’ve been paying for it for 3 years now. He pays a little here and there when he feels like it.

And my student loans will soon total about 50k. My employer pays for my education but I’ve been using it to make my credit card and car payments. I’m drowning fast!! This whole thing has created a lot of tension in my marriage as you can imagine.

My husband is very frugal and financially responsible. He is very angry with me but forgave me…sort of. Our relationship is not the same anymore. He will not help me make the payments and has plans of his own about his future. I guess I shouldn’t expect him to, but I don’t know how I will manage once I finish school and run out of student loan money. Also my student loan payments will be due 6 months later.

I can barely afford my bills now. I make about 60k a year. This is ok money but not enough. I am going to drown soon. I take full responsibility for the position I’m in and I’ve been trying to maintain my payments but I don’t know how long I can keep this up. I would like to increase my cash flow but I don’t know how I would find the time.

Should I try a debt management program or file bankruptcy? Does the dmp hurt your credit as much as the bankruptcy? My husband doesn’t want to file bankruptcy so his portion wouldn’t be covered (about $42k) so is it worth it? How would filing bankruptcy affect my husbands credit?

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Dear Jean,

Thank you for writing me for help.

Okay. What we have here is a multifaceted problem. It’s not just an easy situation where you can wave a debt management wand and make it all better.

Money problems are not about the money. They are the symptoms of the underlying issues that lead you into debt. In your case it seems those issues were related to your shopping, gambling and inappropriate use of the tuition reimbursement money. The relationship issue is a different matter but I’ll get to that.

Now is not the time to gamble or bargain trying to get an easy solution. Now is the time to step up, face the issues head on and accept your situation. No more impulsive magical thinking, please.

The first step is to make sure you have sought professional help to deal with the gambling and shopping issues. Both of those issues are manifestations of emotional issues or maybe even a brain chemistry imbalance that caused you to act in such a way that this debt was created. Something in your life, body, or background has allowed you to behave out of balance and if we don’t address that issue, trust me, you will be right back in this situation again.

Do You Have a Question You'd Like Help With? Contact Debt Coach Damon Day. Click here to reach Damon.

I think it is imperative to stop using your tuition reimbursement for unsecured credit payments. That needs to stop today. And while we are stopping stuff, you need to stop making your sons payments that you can’t afford and help tach him a financial lesson and help him find a way to pay it.

I really don’t see a credit counseling or DMP being the best fit for you in this situation. It will probably be better resolved with bankruptcy and you can go bankrupt alone on all the debts in your name alone. You can click here to find a local bankruptcy attorney and go talk to them for free to find out specifics about filing bankruptcy in your situation.

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but simply filing bankruptcy without addressing the underlying issues would be as effective as taking out a 401(k) loan. You took out the loan and you ran the debt back up again. The debt is not the problem here, as I said, it is the symptom.

If you follow this approach, all of it, and you are truly committed to making your life better, accepting responsibility for your past actions and moving forward with better balance then it is probably the best shot at helping to make your relationship better.

Now is the time to prove to you, your husband and me that you are really serious about addressing these issues and creating a better life.

Please update me on your progress by

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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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