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I Helped to Save My Sister With Her Retarded Son and Now I’m Drowning. – Sharon

“Dear Steve,

I am a 59 yr old divorced woman. I am seriously in debt over my head. I have a rental property which is currently in foreclosure due to lack of tenants to rent it. I could not keep up the payments.

I have about $10k in credit card debt which I ran up to fix my primary house which I bought from a bank. At the time I bought the house, about 6 years ago, my boyfriend agreed he would help me renovate it and now he said he has moved out. He gave me $600 a month rent and without that, I am now about 3 mos behind on my mortgage and I have not paid the credit cards for months, some have been charged off.

I am so very tired of all the harrassing phone calls, they call me everyday and every night. My problems started a little over a year ago when I was helping my very ill sister with a 40 year old retarded son. She was going to lose her house so I helped her pay that and utilities and groceries.

She tried to commit suicide 3 times in 2 weeks. If I had to do it again, I would. She did pass away in August ’08 but now I cannot get caught up. I gross about 53,000 a year and I have a first and second mtg which total about 1500.00 a month and I only net 2200 a month, I have car payment, gasoline (I drive 2 hrs roundtrip per day to work), I am now getting behind on my utilities. I cannot even afford groceries.

I heard I make too much to file bankruptcy and I just feel like packing my clothes and walking away. I have no family and no one to help me. I have done so much work on this house which was in a fire when I bought it, I am still working on it but now if I lose it,whats the use. My 401K has about $25,000 but I have 2 loans against that. I need help and don’t know where to turn. I am constantly exhausted, cannot sleep and so depressed. I would file bankruptcy in a hearbeat if I could.

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Do you see a solution? Are there any leniency with the bankruptcy law. My lender is HSBC and they said they could send me some docs to fill out, called it the Obama plan but said my payment may go up…I cannot pay the one I have now. There is no way I could sell the house, it is not done! Not worth the mtg on it and I love it.


Dear Sharon,

You certainly sound like a good person who has lived through some trying times. So who is caring for your sister’s son now?

You may love the house, but through a series of events beyond your control, you may not be able to be able to keep it.

The key clue to your situation is your inability to keep up with your basic and critical expenses. Your situation has slid from one of options and choices to one of no great options.

Without any reasonable expectation that you will be able to increase your income or reduce your expenses to get yourself out of this mess, the only other option is going to be legal intervention to alter the circumstances and let you find a path out.

You’ve tried other options. You’ve borrowed from your 401(k) to try and dig your way out. Those efforts are not going to work in this situation. They are simply going to dig you a deeper hole.

This will finally allow you to eliminate the stress, help to resolve the depression, and actually give you meaningful relief.

That only legal intervention is bankruptcy. Whoever said that you can’t go bankrupt because you make too much money was incorrect.

You need to find a local bankruptcy attorney you like and make an appointment to go in and talk to them.

Now is the time to not hold tightly to anything. Let go of the house and other material thing which is pulling you under and use this chance to get your life to fit inside your income.

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You do have some blessings in this pain that you need to be grateful for. You are employed and not making minimum wage. Be thankful for what you do have, many have less.

Please update me on your progress by posting updates here in the comments section of your question. I’m very interested in how this works out for you.


You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.

P.S. Be sure to read ‘The Secret of Surviving Through Difficult Economic Times. What I Learned On My Journey‘.

About the author

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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