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Carrying Credit Card Debt for 13 Years And It’s Grown. What Now? – Laura

“Dear Steve,

I’ve been carrying credit card debt since grad school in 1988 – it went from 15,000 to 40,000+ plus in 29 years.

I’m gainfully employed, but am 55, living on one income and supporting 2 people. My 81 yo mother lives with me and does not receive enough from Soc. Security to cover her living costs. I’m groaning under the weight of a 40,000+ credit card debt, do not own any assets, have a 13 yo car, and no end in sight – my cards are maxed – I have enormously high 29.99-19.99% credit card interest on the debt I’m carrying – no matter what I do in the summer I cannot cover my bills and so go right back into the hole I was in the year before. I’m considering a debt management company, but fear getting into a scam and also not being able to get a loan to buy a car when that day comes anytime soon. Since I’m employed, I’d like to be able to buy a home, but know I need to get out of this debt first. Should I go w/ a debt management co? CareOne is one that I’ve seen on line that seems reputable. Is there a better solution th an this? Any advice that can help me take the next step to begin to get out of debt is greatly appreciated.

Laura”

The Answer

Dear Laura,

I’m going to take a wild guess and predict you are a teacher.

CareOne is a fine company and an AACC member. You can always reach out to them and see what they have to say. Don’t worry, you are not committing to anything by just listening to their solutions.

But based on your situation I think we need to think larger. A debt management solution would take about five years and during that time your monthly payments would not decrease. I suspect, based on what you shared, you are unable to save much money to protect you and your mother in case of a financial emergency. So the debt management plan may not be the “best” solution to deal with that.

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You want to be able to buy a car in the future and a home. Both of those tasks with your current debt load are out of reach. A five year debt management plan repayment still keeps those out of reach and it is probable you will need to replace your car sometime in the next five years.

So what about debt settlement? Well you don’t have the cash on hand to settle now and it would take time to accumulate those funds. In the meantime your credit will be shot and you’ll be in collections. It will be on your credit report for seven years. And while you might be able to save a little, you’ll still be dealing with the pressure to dig out from the debt.

The logical solution seems to be to pursue a legal financial second chance and fresh start. If you considered bankruptcy you would be able to discharge your debt now and focus your energy on quickly rebuilding your credit, using this guide. Within a year you’d be able to purchase a new car and within three years get a mortgage. This approach also gives you an immediate ability to start savings money post-discharge for a downpayment and an emergency fund. It makes the most logical sense.

So in your solution investigation I think you should click here to find a local bankruptcy attorney and talk to them for free about what bankruptcy would mean for you.

It might just be the smartest decision you can make that accomplishes all your goals and makes it more likely you and your mother will be financially safer moving forward.

Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.

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About Steve Rhode

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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