My 95 Year old Mother is Struggling to Pay Her Credit Cards. – Jeanne

“Dear Damon,

This is regarding my 95 year old (soon to be 96) about her massive credit card bill. Her only income is Social Security at about $1400 per month. She has many other bills and pays everything on time, but this leaves her with only about $200 left over per month. She does not own a home, has no savings, and lives with my sister.

The Visa has always been maxed out due to moving expenses, medical expenses and just trying to get along. We are not able to assist with the payments, and in fact, she is quite close mouthed about the bills, as she feels that if you made the bill, you need to pay it, but I think the interest on the Visa bill has negated any payments she can make.

My mother has been paying on her Visa card bill for as long as I can recall. She at this point owes at least $5,000 and I know is paying only the minimum per month -which is probably just interest. Is there any way she can walk away from this? I would imagine that in all the years she has had this bill that she has probably paid Visa over 20k.


Hello Jeanne,

It sounds like your mother could be judgment proof but the laws in every state are different and you would need to consult with an attorney to confirm that. If she walked away from her card and stopped paying, they could potentially sue, get a judgment and then try to attach any current or future assets. As previously mentioned, if those are non existent then it will be difficult to impossible for them to recover.

Now, if your mother would prefer to keep paying there are some steps you can take to get the interest rate lowered. You can contact a credit counseling program and get a free quote. I recommend speaking with a few of them to determine who could lower the interest rate the farthest. The problem though is that they will have a monthly fee that could steeply eat into your repayment so you will have to watch out for how high the fee is.

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The other option is to work with the creditor directly. Call them and ask them to lower the rate. Tell them you can’t afford to pay it anymore. That will likely not get you very far but it is good to try first. Then you will have to roll the dice and let the payment go for a month or two. While there is no guarantee, most banks will magically offer a lower interest rate and a fixed payoff period for borrowers who fall a month or two behind. Mind you this would be the same bank that told you they couldn’t help you while you were “doing the right thing.”

I could go into a long winded explanation about why this sort of actually makes sense from the banks point of view, but it doesn’t really matter. Most banks have adopted this policy so based on the little information I know, I would say get a few quotes from some credit counseling companies. Then if they don’t seem super duper good, let the payment go for a month or two and see what kind of deal they would offer. If they don’t, you can always fall back on the credit counseling company as a safety net.

Damon is a talented independent debt coach that provides in-depth assistance and consultations for people struggling with debt. If you want a personal debt coach to help you through a difficult situation or want assistance to find secret discounts offered by debt settlement companies I think Damon Day is an excellent person to contact for advice and assistance. He can be reached directly at DamonDay.com

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