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I’ve been lurking for a while

…but I thought I could help ya with this one: about three years ago we were in dire straits because of credit card debt (approaching $20k=over half our annual income) and went finally to Consumer Credit Counseling Services. First words out of their mouth once we reviewed the numbers was “Have you considered bankruptcy?”..ick. They were unwilling to work with us because they saw no way we could make payments that the cc companies would accept.

Well, we went back to the drawing board, reworked the numbers and then went back a few months later to a different counselor who didn’t have our records from the first visit: we excluded finite debts with no interest, i.e. M.D., dental bills, from our debts that we showed them, and just BARELY squeaked into the program after they suggested I pick up some sort of at home work (I’m SAHM). We now are still paying almost a third of our income to CCCS. They in turn negotiated with the cc companies, and First USA and Discover agreed to no interest paybacks, Household Finance/Mastercard lowered their interest, our credit union lowered its interest after a year, Nations was the only one that wouldn’t lower their interest and they at least agreed to a payment schedule.

I can tell you two things: unless both of you come they won’t work with you to set up a plan and if you ever, ever miss a payment (1 late is OK)- you’re out and on your own. You also cannot assume any new debts, ie NO credit cards while in the program. We have payments automatically transferred to CCCS from our account around payday and since I use Quicken, and prelist this I never am under the illusion we have the money (I’ve also contemplated a blind checking account with an automatic deposit from my husband’s paycheck). We have about a year and a half to go. YEA!.

We have virtually no Christmases, no vacations (except to visit Grandparents), my husband works -at least- 50 hrs a week, but I’m home with the kids and its working. Also-You’ve GOT to check on your credit status. Ours is still a bit murky. If yours is as bad as you think, then I have no idea how your husband got another card; also I would write to all the credit card companies and tell them that they need to CUT you off (even the newest one he got), that your husband is incurring these debts without your knowledge (I think they cannot extend credit once you notify them..).

Also, CCCS might be able to provide some counseling about how to protect your own credit; and, depending on where you live they frequently hold classes on a variety of topics – Being in debt is a sickening and terrifying feeling, as you know, and all I can say is protect yourself. If that means taking over the finances DO IT NOW, if it means getting counseling DO IT NOW; you don’t deserve to feel this way for another minute. DO IT before this weekend!!! I have other tips, things we’ve done to survive, but you need to deal with the big issue first.