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If you’ve got $13,000 in bad credit card debt, ask for help!

by J. Money on Thursday, August 28, 2008

bank of j.Or at least stop adding to it :) One of my friend’s bf had been going slowly under in credit card debt for years now, and finally decided to do something about it.

My friend (the same friend who thought she got $300 extra on her stimulus check) told him it was about time to clean it up so he can stop stressing and worrying about it. Smart!

At first he wasn’t too happy about hearing that stuff from his girlfriend (who would?) but it eventually sunk in and he knew it was all in the spirit of love. I guess his family and friends were all in the same boat, so he considered it “the norm” and didn’t realize how bad it actually was.

He was $13,000 in credit card debt, spread across 3 cards with interest rates at 22%, 28% and then another that i can’t remember right now…but it was equally high. His payments were a good $500/month, and almost all of it went entirely to just INTEREST alone! It seriously made me want to vomit when i heard that…can you imagine? it’s one thing to have a lot of debt, but it’s entirely another to have a lot of debt with high a$$ interest rates.

My friend asked me for some advice, and i told her exactly what i’d do if i were him:

  1. Call each company right away and ask to have your rates lowered. Play the loyalty card if you can, and say you’re thinking of leaving if they say no right away. Throw in a sob story if you have to, i don’t care as long as you get each one lowered. You can do 3 calls in less than 30 minutes and save hundreds, if not thousands, easy as that.
  2. Consolidate! This won’t work for everyone as your options depend on your credit and such, but I find it much easier to pay off one balance than 3 scattered about. You might even get lucky enough to stumble upon a 0% card offer for 12 months, or even a personal loan around 10% or so. Unfortunately it’s a little hard to do these days, but it’s worth asking around.
  3. Talk with your bank or financial advisor. Especially if you can’t consolidate on your own. They have a handful of ideas and plans they could line you up with, or at least offer you suggestions. Start with your own bank or advisor if you already have one, and then go from there.

She relayed them over ASAP and he surprisingly worked on them right away! WOOHOO! Unfortunately i celebrated a bit too early though. His credit wasn’t low in the dumps, but it wasn’t up to par either – more in the lower middle range, thus making consolidation and 0% interest cards harder to come by.

He did, however, get a cple of the cards’ rates lowered (by 5% on one, and 6ish on the other) so that helped, but he still needed a better plan. Somehow in his research he came across one of those shady “fix it all” companies who said they’d get rid of it all for him, and even increase his credit! They said all he had to do was stop paying his payments on all cards, and pay this company $400+ each month which, over time, would pay off the entire balances over 3 years….plus the credit help, of course. The alarms were ringing when i heard this, but he went for it anyways.

Long story short, the creditors were on to the game and started calling non-stop for 2 months straight. He started getting worried and eventually cut the company (losing only $150 in the process), and started making the payments again. Whew!

This time, he decided to confront his parents and explained the whole situation to them. Not only were they not upset, but they loaned him enough money to pay it all off in one huge swoop! Awesome! He probably should have done that sooner…but i don’t blame him, us guys like to handle things ourselves. But now all c/c debt is paid off, and he now makes the payments to his parents each month with a minimal interest rate (i think like 5% or maybe even 0%, i can’t really remember). Not too shabby.

So the moral of the story, besides don’t go in debt? When you find yourself going deeper in the whole, commit yourself to a gameplan and actually DO SOMETHING about it. That, and always listen to your girlfriend ;)


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