I’ve Got a Debt Situation. Can You Please Listen? – Noname


“Dear Steve,

My situation now seems totally hopeless and I am facing homelessness

I am not sure if I am asking a question (or questions) of you or just need you to read and listen, probably a little of both.

I am a single/divorced women in her mid-fifties. I was divorced and raised my only child by myself, which was no easy task, as all single parents know. Anyway, she is grown and married with a child of her own.

I never had any training with money, formal or informal, and losing my father at an early age did not help. My mother’s philosophy was to live for the moment and after Daddy died, she became a compulsive gambler (bingo about 5-7 times weekly). It’s a wonder we did not lose the house.

Anyway, I have always lived for the moment myself, but fortunately, have never been addicted to anything such as gambling, tobacco, alcohol, etc. After my divorces (there were two) I seemed to do pretty well for a single woman/parent, and managed to get some good jobs, even though I only had a high school diploma.

I have had to file bankruptcy a couple of times, and even had a Chapter 13 in progress about 3 years ago, which cost me my car. I had been making catch-up payments and when I called the lawyer’s office to let them know the (late) payment had been mailed to the trustee, they never let him know, which in turn cost me my car.

Now, I owe 13,000 for a car I don’t have, plus a new car payment (used car) which is current at the moment, but is through a secondary finance company (which are the worst!). I was doing pretty well until about that time when I the job market I was in was directly affected by the housing industry’s changes and my income dropped significantly. The Chapter 13 fell apart, and all the creditors started to come after me.

Miraculously, I paid several of them off and managed to not have any judgements, etc. I made a few job changes a had, for the first time in my life, 4 jobs in about a year and a half. They either paid badly or stopped paying salary and went to commission only.

My background has been in sales for years and I have considered many times changing to an admin position, etc. but I live in a very low-paying area because of all the military spouses and former military here in the job market.

To get back to my story, things were all right and I was actually paying most all my bills, even with the Chapter 13 ones coming after me, and then I was recruited to a better paying job last year.

While I have never made a lot of money, the idea of 37,000 plus commissions and bonuses (and expenses) really seemed like a smart career move. I found out from the recruiter there was another person being offered this position first and he refused because he wanted more money. Anyway, he changed his mind and after 6 weeks, I was let go.

The company was rotten to work for, so no great loss there, but they fought me for my unemployment, which I was fnally awarded. I am well-connected and am a strong networker, etc. and have done more than I thought I would ever need to do to get hired.

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However, here I am, almost 10 months later, workng 2 part time jobs, my unemployment ran out (Virginia did not vote for the Stimulus package) and I was promised a seemingly good job with a start date of May 18th. Well, that fell through and I don’t have enough money to pay my rent, I owe almost everyone in the U.S., and am almost finished getting my Bachelor’s degree (thanks to student loans) and I am, for the first time in my llife, failing both subjects, thanks to major/clinical depression.

My 401K/Roth IRA is done, my church helped me last month so that isn’t a option, my credit is shot, and I won’t have the money to pay my rent. Getting this job was my last chance. I have even been thinking about taking my life at times, because of the feelings of extreme failure.

If it wasn’t for my faith (and caring friends) I would probably do myself in. I have been praying and asking for answers, and all I need is a good job to take care of myself. I have always been able to support myself and have been very proud of all the things I have accomplished.

I am active in the non-profit community, and have just been asked to be featured as a local professional person (short bio) in a local publication.

However, I am penniless, heavily in debt, facing eviction with almost no hope for the future, and about a 350 credit score. I can hardly believe that about 5 yeas ago I had a 650 FICO which was on the way up an my bills were paid! How in the world can this be happening to me? I have not always made smart decisions about money, but have always tried to think of others first and have a giving and caring heart. I know thousands and thousands of people are having similiar issues, but I am scared, have no means of help and don’t know what to do. I know I can file bankruptcy this Fall, but that won’t help me if I am homeless, as I would not even have the money for that.

Thanks for reading/listening and please DON’T use my real first name as I would not want anyone reading this to recognize me.

Steve, I have come to admire what you do and really appreciate and enjoy your column. Do you have any words of wisdom for me at this point?


Dear Noname,

I think to search for an answer why you have found yourself in this position, you’ll have to turn to your faith. As a spiritual person I think that you understand that your higher power has placed you in this for a reason, not for punishment, but to teach you or show you something. The trick is to keep your eyes and ears open to listen for the message. Maybe one day you’ll take what you’ve learned from living through these times and use that experience to help others.

When I went through my financial cesspool I felt much the same as you do right now. I was scared, depressed and if it hadn’t been for my family taking me and my wife and three year old daughter in, I would have been homeless as well.

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Ironically, my greatest failure in life became my greatest strength since I have been able to help so many people to find their way through difficult times because of my experiences.

You are obviously a person with a big heart and compassion for helping so many other people in your work and community. But can you openly accept help?

The lesson I see from this situation is that at some point you need to stop living in fear, in shame, in embarrassment and just surrender yourself to the situation. The moment you stop using life energy to fight against all of this stuff, you can then convert that energy to moving forward with your life.

Maybe this is the time to let go, to free yourself of all that is dragging you down. A thought.

You and I both know that whatever a local publication says about you, does not define you. Who cares what people say about you. Rather than worry about maintaining a false facade, how about instead investing in the honesty of openness?

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

Being homeless sucks. But you are not dead. Let’s say you did wind up homeless, it would definitely suck but there are so many worse things that could happen to you. Instead of living in regret, what would happen if you could instead live in gratitude for the positive things around you on a daily basis?

I’m reminded of a story about an old man who was married to his wife for 60 years. They were deeply in love all of their life and people could not picture them ever being apart. The day after she died a friend spotted him going for a walk and singing to himself.

“How can you be so happy on the day after your wife died?”, the friend asked.

“I’m sad she’s gone but I’m just celebrating the 60 great years we had together,” the old man said.

Consider that rather than a curse, this is a unique opportunity for you to let all your stuff go and liberate yourself for a new future. Maybe ask the Church or a friend if they know of someone that has a room or place for you to stay, and use this time to reinvent yourself into the person you want to be, for yourself, not for others.

When you feel like you are at the bottom, the good news is that there is no place to go but up.

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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.
Steve Rhode
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