I’m desperate, depressed and have been suicidal on a regular basis over debt and money issues. I am disabled and on SS, and my husband is working full time. We do not have a very high combined income, but too high to qualify for extra help (food stamps, etc).
We’re renting in a shared situation that is precarious at best (elderly family member paying partial rent & utilities, if something happened to him we have already discussed with the landlord & know that we couldn’t bring in another renter & would have to pay the full amount ourselves which is already more than reasonable). We are barely surviving & each month we know if it falls through, we will not be able to afford to live here or even afford to rent a small apartment anywhere, so the immediate & inevitable threat of homelessness is constant.
We are in approximately 17k of debt. We have $400 per month payments to a credit counseling debt management agency for much of our debt which has reduced some of our interest & minimums, and approximately $200 per month in additional payments to cover the minimums of the debt that isn’t in debt management. We have considered bankruptcy, but my husband filed for a Chapter 7 with his ex-wife years ago, so we are not legally eligible to file for Chapter 7 again until April of next year (2012). But I don’t even know if we can hold on that long. We’ve been advised that we could file a Chapter 13, but we are so incredibly tight financially that even the repayment amount would be more than we could afford should we need to seek housing we could pay for on our own. Not to mention trying to rent with a bankruptcy on our record.
I’m constantly terrified. We are current with most of the debts, a few medical bills in collections, yet we are juggling utility & household shut off notices constantly trying to keep everything on. We are sinking. Not knowing how to survive another winter’s heating costs & not finding ANY joy out of life when I am completely sucked under by constant financial stress and strain. We both feel desperate on a daily basis.
Do you have any advice for us as far as how to handle our debt crisis? What happens if we cannot pay, when do the judgments and garnishments start? What options do we have as far as bankruptcy, write-offs, ANYTHING? Is there any hope for us? PLEASE, please help us. Thank you
I completely understand what that depression and darkness feels like when debt becomes so overwhelming that it leads to thoughts that easy suicide seems like a reasonable way out.
I’m not going to tell you that others before haven’t followed that path, they have. But in my experience, people that commit suicide over their debt have not logically thought through the situation or sought outside assistance to see the situation from a fresh perspective.
Thank you for reaching out to me.
Now the advice I’m going to give you is not typical and it is based solely on your situation, income and apparent emotional state at this time. Ready?
In eight months you will be eligible to file for a joint Chapter 7 bankruptcy so really what we need to do is stall. The best approach is to just play along with the game.
Now this process is going to put you in collections, it will hurt your credit, and you may be threatened to be sued. Bad things can happen but the reality is I need to put your basic safety and welfare ahead of your credit score at the moment. I can show you how to rebuild your credit later once this is all over.
I also need to get you in a position where you can save a little money each month as well to protect yourselves if the rental situation changes or you need cash for an emergency. This living on the edge approach you’ve got now is just not sustainable and exacerbates your suicidal tendencies and pressure.
In my experience, the reason people become as suicidal as you describe, because of debt is they panic over seeing no hope or solution. The panic and depression is common and intense.
And just because you see no solution doesn’t mean there isn’t one. So let’s find the path here.
The first step is to stop paying your debt management payment and your other unsecured debt payment. Each month you will flow through collections and calls and letters will come. But what I want you to do is anxiously await them with glee and great each with a smile. Here’s why.
Debt collectors primarily operate under a very automated process. As each month moves ahead they will apply different approaches to get you to pay. But for the most part, if you stand your ground and tell them the truth of your situation and that you have no money to pay, and you are not a jerk about it, you leave them with either taking possible legal action or pushing your file down the road.
If you great each collector call as an opportunity to make a new friend and chat, it can be a positive moment in their day and I’ve found if you do that then collectors are willing to not escalate the issue.
Sure, you may get some nasty collection calls but see it for what it really is, a manipulative call designed to extract money from you, and based on what you’ve said, you don’t have a lot to promise so don’t let them manipulate you.
The creditors will generally keep the accounts on their books for six months after you stop paying them and then have to charge off the account. A charge off just means they had to report it as a nonperforming bad debt, you still owe the money. After the charge off they may sell it to an outside bad debt buyer or keep it in house for some additional collections.
Just working the process will get you close to April when you can file Chapter 7 jointly again and start over. The law entitles you to a fresh financial start and once you file bankruptcy again it will stop any lawsuit and collection efforts.
At that point you can focus on making ends meet and building up that emergency fund so you can have cash in the bank.
The critical part of this approach is for you to understand the collection calls are going to come but they are not personally judging you. In fact, each collection call and letter that arrives is just one more step towards the day you will be able to ultimately resolve this.
Some calls may be aggressive but they are just trying to manipulate you into payment. Just see it for what it is and remember this situation can be resolved.
If you give me your permission, I’d like to ask one of the debt relief agencies in my “Angel Network” to reach out for free and be available to you if you need more help on the way.
There is no reason for you to kill yourself over this debt and situation. While you may feel it will end your present perceived pain, it will only add to the pain felt by others because of your loss.
The urgency for an easy suicide is crafted out of thoughts and not out of reality. I’ve shown you what the reality is and as you can see there is a solution that does not require your demise.
Besides, I need you around to share your smile with others and to give all the hugs away that you can. Do it for me and pay forward the help I’m giving you.
If you agree that this approach is a reasonable one and this sounds like the path you want to try then I would also suggest you find a local bankruptcy attorney to coordinate this approach and begin making payments towards your planned future bankruptcy. You can click here to find a local bankruptcy attorney.
I think this other article may be helpful. Hooray, You Are in Collections! The Debt Collector is Calling. The Debt Collector is Calling
Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.