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 Post subject: $25k in debt and no idea how to proceed
PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2012 11:04 am 

Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2007 9:36 am
Posts: 25
My partner and I are unmarried, but would like to be. First we have some financial difficulties to work out. We live in Washington state. I left my job April 2011 due to physical and emotional strain of the work exacerbating some chronic health conditions. When I didn't recover as quickly as I'd expected, I applied for disability. That was filed in December and I'm still fighting the process.

However we got here, this is where we are:
* Partner has $6.5k in credit card debt and no health insurance, and a small medical bill that's almost finished; the rest of this is in my name...
* $9k in credit card debt over 8 cards, due to stress-induced shopping addiction for which I am receiving care
* $6.5 k on my car (cannot sell, need reliable transportation because we live in the boonies and there is no bus)
* small medical bill that's almost finished
* $500 6-month insurance premiums
* $1500 student loan
* $1500 owed to my mom, no pressure to get that paid before I'm done with the rest (or really ever at this point, it's been 3 years since I made a payment).

That's over $25k in debt, over $900 in minimum payments monthly, plus the $100 a month I save for insurance so we get 2.5 months off per year by paying 6 months at a time.

Other bills are minimal. Only bill aside from debt is our cell phones, but we wouldn't save much since we are on the lowest plan and it's split three ways with our old roommate. Can't move, we're already in a low-housing-cost area and pay no rent (take care of my partner's aging parents). $20 a month for Netflix and Blockbuster by mail, which is our only stress-relief expenses and we get our money's worth out of them. I get food stamps, so at least my food is covered--what I am supposed to be paying in rent covers my partner's food. Gas is increasingly minimal as my partner has been able to start riding his bike to work more often.

This is a high-stress situation, with one able-bodied member of the household and three in various stages of disability, chronic and terminal illnesses. Our bills are not merged with my partner's parents at all, so that helps marginally. But there is just nothing else to cut. I'm not allowed to work or I lose $1500 a month in medical benefits, and I'm only cleared by my doctor to work an hour or two a day, 3 days a week--6 hours a week won't even replace those medical benefits, and those hours include any swimming workouts I could do (which I can't because a community center membership is $40 a month and they recently changed their policies that charity memberships don't include pool passes).

My partner has started biking to work to decrease our gas costs, but he can't start commuting both ways yet. It's a 20 mile ride, across a 2 mile windy bridge, and he has a very active job with occasionally long shifts so biking home or even two days in a row hasn't yet been an option. But he's only getting 3 shifts a week so soon he will be biking both ways every day. He's been job hunting but no bites yet--he's actually been told he's too well-groomed for the area he works. As a last resort to cut costs, since we live across the river from Oregon and my partner works there, we do most of our non-food shopping there with no sales tax on our way to/from dropping him off at work.

My credit cards are locked up in a safe I can't get into. If I close the accounts, the payment protection plan is cancelled and I can't skip payments at all. However, my partner's income is not even enough to cover all the minimum payments anymore, and that's after I have called and activated my "payment protection plan" benefits to get 2 of my payments put off for the next few months (no interest accruing) and my student loan payment cut in half. I'm working on my car payment, which has a similar loan insurance on it that says they will make my payments for me--not extend the loan but actually pay on it for me--in events like this, and I am meeting with my doctor early next month to fill out that paperwork. In 3 months, two medical bills will be paid off.

But I don't know that we can wait that long. At this rate, we will be unable to make some of these debt payments as early as November. I've considered bankruptcy as a concept, and one friend who has gone through it has said it wasn't as horrible as it seems. I haven't consulted a lawyer yet and I don't even know how to find a good one who will help ensure I don't lose my car. I don't have any idea what other options I have.

Help?


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 Post subject: Re: $25k in debt and no idea how to proceed
PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2012 12:50 pm 
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Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2009 9:01 am
Posts: 5357
You have painted a rather dire picture for the short term. To help us try to help suggest things to you, can you tell us what you see as the longer term future?

Do you expect to recover from your disability and return to work?
Does your partner have prospects of increasing his income?
Are there any repercussions of using these payment protection plans for a while? Does it hurt your credit? What does it cover?
Can you find a community pool farther away that you can drive to to exercise? Can you get a subsidy through your health insurance? Can you walk for exercise instead?

There is always hope so I really believe there is in your case as well. But we are probably going to need to know what is a realistic path forward for you before we can make any concrete suggestions.

What kind of work do you and your partner do or are capable of doing?


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 Post subject: Re: $25k in debt and no idea how to proceed
PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2012 3:34 pm 

Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2007 9:36 am
Posts: 25
Quote:
...can you tell us what you see as the longer term future?

2-3 years: Getting married, having babies, and my partner returning to school for a management degree. 5-10 years: Opening our own bar. Somewhere in there potentially moving with my partner's mother to Australia for a couple years.

Quote:
Do you expect to recover from your disability and return to work?

At this point, there is hope I could recover and work eventually. In my current state however, it is unlikely. That's a 5-year plan if ever, probably not a 2-year plan, unless there are some amazing medical miracle in the next two years and medicaide covers them.

Quote:
Does your partner have prospects of increasing his income?

Not in the immediate future. Caring for his parents (and I hate to say it, me) is a full time job, and we are headed into the slow season for the restaurant industry. The soonest we can reasonably expect an increase in income is March.

Quote:
Are there any repercussions of using these payment protection plans for a while? Does it hurt your credit? What does it cover?

The only way it "hurts" my credit is that my balance is not reducing while I'm using the benefits. It stops interest accrual and the payment protection costs (usually less than or about 1% of the balance), and makes my minimum payment $0 while the benefits are in effect. I have to fill out paperwork every couple/few months to keep it activated and it will go up to 2 years. For the one on my car, it's similar, but it just makes my payment for me and I have to fill out paperwork regularly to keep it going. Unfortunately I let the paperwork lapse once already because due to the nature of my disabilities, the process was too stressful to handle for a while.

Quote:
Can you find a community pool farther away that you can drive to to exercise?

That IS the cost for the community pool. Local high schools seem to use the community centers here, or otherwise don't have lap swims available for non-students.

Quote:
Can you get a subsidy through your health insurance? Can you walk for exercise instead?
Swimming is the only exercise I'm medically authorized to do. Medicaid denied the request for a subsidy for the pool stating that I am already getting a state disability stipend, which is only enough to pay "rent" which gets given right back to me for my partner's groceries.

Quote:
What kind of work do you and your partner do or are capable of doing?

My partner works as a server, and has no experience doing any other jobs (except one summer as a house painter, which he did apply for those jobs at the beginning of summer and was not hired). He wants to get trained for bartending and management, but the jobs that say they will train never end up doing so. I was also working in the restaurant industry and am a trained chef. I used to own my own in-home catering company and was hoping to freelance as a personal chef, but right now I can't even successfully cook dinner in my own home most days, so cooking for another family is out of the question for the foreseeable future (besides losing my medical benefits if I show any income, and my doctor not clearing me for work).

I don't think our situation is hopeless either, I just don't know how to move forward from this point to get our feet under us again.


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 Post subject: Re: $25k in debt and no idea how to proceed
PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2012 4:13 pm 
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Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2009 9:01 am
Posts: 5357
brigittefires wrote:
2-3 years: Getting married, having babies, and my partner returning to school for a management degree. 5-10 years: Opening our own bar. Somewhere in there potentially moving with my partner's mother to Australia for a couple years.

I don't know if that plan is doable. But, if it is, it's definitely going to take some hard work on your part. Based on what you said about possibly not being able to handle stress, I'm not sure whether you will be able to do the hard work.

Quote:
At this point, there is hope I could recover and work eventually. In my current state however, it is unlikely. That's a 5-year plan if ever, probably not a 2-year plan, unless there are some amazing medical miracle in the next two years and medicaide covers them.

At this point I'll just ask you, what will it take to recover. What do YOU need to do to facilitate your recovery. You can't control luck, medical advances, the actions of others, and so forth. Since I don't know the nature of your medical issues and am not a physician, I can't say whether there is anything you can do. But if there s something you can do to help your situation then you need to do it. Don't make any excuses. Just do it. Your doctor told you to swim. Find $40 a month somehow, join the gym and swim. Perhaps if your partner rides his bike more you can save enough in gas for that. If he works 20 miles away that's probably 2 gallons of gas per trip or $10 per trip. If he rides 4 days more per month you can do your prescribed workouts, right? What else do you need to do to work on your recovery?

Quote:
Does your partner have prospects of increasing his income?
Not in the immediate future. Caring for his parents (and I hate to say it, me) is a full time job, and we are headed into the slow season for the restaurant industry. The soonest we can reasonably expect an increase in income is March.

I think he needs to try to find a second job. Meanwhile, can you step up what you do for his parents to make up for him working more for you?

It sounds like you have some breathing room with the credit. Use that time to pay off your partner's credit card and medical debt and to save up for the smallest of your debts so that you have more monthly cash flow to pay your debts in 2 years when the payment protection runs out.

I think you need to focus on your recovery and him increasing his earning potential by gaining more experience and taking some community college classes. It is highly unlikely you will be in any position to have a kid in 2-3 years. Perhaps later, sure. But the next two years need to be about you recovering and getting yourselves back on your feet financially.


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 Post subject: Re: $25k in debt and no idea how to proceed
PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2012 4:58 pm 

Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2007 3:49 am
Posts: 151
Location: Australia
You're broke, unemployed and in debt. Surely this is an ideal circumstance to file for bankruptcy and be relieved of the debts. This would also relieve your partner of the burden of your debts and allow him to clear his own debt quickly. He would have to come up with the money for a cheap, reliable car. Good luck.


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 Post subject: Re: $25k in debt and no idea how to proceed
PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2012 5:14 pm 

Joined: Fri Apr 27, 2012 1:08 am
Posts: 35
I too would look into bankruptcy. I'm sure many will say that $25k is not enough to file bankruptcy over, but if you're poor enough, might as well be $250,000 (not trying to pick on you).

An important consideration is... if your unsecured debts were wiped out, would you be able to live with the money you receive? I.e., not counting debt payments, do you have at least enough coming in to cover expenses? Sounds like you're not adding any more debt, so you look good on that front. It'd be silly to go through the bankruptcy process, just to get right back in the same situation again.

I would simply look at what the best solution is on paper, THEN let emotion back in. Bankruptcy may be bad...but the alternative might be worse. Look at all your options and the repercussions, then choose the best path for you.


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 Post subject: Re: $25k in debt and no idea how to proceed
PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2012 10:12 pm 

Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2007 9:36 am
Posts: 25
Quote:
DoingHomework:Your doctor told you to swim. Find $40 a month somehow, join the gym and swim. Perhaps if your partner rides his bike more you can save enough in gas for that. If he works 20 miles away that's probably 2 gallons of gas per trip or $10 per trip.


My doctor stated that the only exercise I'm allowed to do is swim. There is a difference between that and prescribing it. Besides the fact that I didn't come here for medical advice. Also, your math is wrong. I get an average of 33 miles per gallon, and driving is a shorter route than biking so it takes only 1.5 gallons of gas per day. Gas being $4 per gallon for the last few months, that's only $6-7 per day. Also, how do I "find" $40 a month to swim when the bills cost more than the income we are collectively making? I think that's pretty bad advice.

Quote:
DoingHomework: I think he needs to try to find a second job.

Did you miss the part where I said he's been job hunting and hasn't been hired?

Quote:
DoingHomework: It sounds like you have some breathing room with the credit.

I'm not sure what gave you that impression. There is no breathing room. As I stated before, at this rate I will be unable to make some of these debt payments in November. That's 10 days away.

Quote:
DoingHomework: taking some community college classes.

Yes, let's just ignore the bills we have already and spend a few more hundred dollars of money we don't have on college classes, or get student loans. That's a very responsible plan, get into more debt. /sarcasm

Quote:
josetann: if your unsecured debts were wiped out, would you be able to live with the money you receive?

Oh yes, we could definitely afford to live and be quite comfortable if the $9k of credit card debt was gone. With the payments we wouldn't be making, we could start our home garden within a month, complete with greenhouse for year-round production, and after that afford some treatments that Medicaid doesn't cover. Even with the debt, with $300 more a month in income we could cover our bills, have a little spending money for things like garden supplies and pool passes, and have all debt paid off in 3 years. But that's been the case for over 4 months now without any job bites and going into a slow season, so I am looking for options to weigh and consider.


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 Post subject: Re: $25k in debt and no idea how to proceed
PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2012 5:16 am 

Joined: Tue Mar 11, 2008 12:19 pm
Posts: 1721
Location: Ottawa, Canada
I'm going to keep this brief, in the hopes of avoiding saying something rude.

Doinghomework was just trying to help. He's a veteran of these forums and has a wealth of both life and financial experience. If some of his suggestions are inapplicable to you due to circumstances you omitted in your original post, then that's not a reason to jump down his throat. The fact that you immediately became so defensive, combined with some of your other comments, suggests that you may have a strong "victim mentality" that is inhibiting you from improving your situation.

Drat. Looks like I said something rude after all. Oh well, I'm here now anyway, might as well double-down and hope some of it gets through.

Bottom line is, you need to get your income up. Declaring bankruptcy does not solve your problem long-term. If your debts were wiped out, you'd still lack sufficient income to support a family of 4 (3 of whom have ongoing medical issues). Your partner is shouldering an enormous burden, is there anything you can do from home to help? Maybe turn a hobby into a side job, make some crafts, and sell them on Etsy? Maybe hit up some garage sales on weekends, and resell a few gems on eBay? A couple hours of housecleaning for a neighbor? Phone surveys? Anything at all you can do to help ease his burden?

Also, I would strongly suggest that you take all necessary precautions to hold off on growing your family until you are on more stable financial footing. The last thing your family needs is more people to take care of. Besides, if you're physically/emotionally unable to work, or even prepare a meal, how could you possibly care for a child?


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 Post subject: Re: $25k in debt and no idea how to proceed
PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2012 7:06 am 
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Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2009 9:01 am
Posts: 5357
brigittefires wrote:
My doctor stated that the only exercise I'm allowed to do is swim. There is a difference between that and prescribing it. Besides the fact that I didn't come here for medical advice. Also, your math is wrong. I get an average of 33 miles per gallon, and driving is a shorter route than biking so it takes only 1.5 gallons of gas per day. Gas being $4 per gallon for the last few months, that's only $6-7 per day. Also, how do I "find" $40 a month to swim when the bills cost more than the income we are collectively making? I think that's pretty bad advice.


Whatevah...at $6/day for gas I guess he'd have to bike 7 days. That's a huge difference and changes everything.

Quote:
Quote:
DoingHomework: It sounds like you have some breathing room with the credit.

I'm not sure what gave you that impression. There is no breathing room. As I stated before, at this rate I will be unable to make some of these debt payments in November. That's 10 days away.

You said those payment protection plans are making the minimum payments for you for 2 years and no interest is accruing during that time. Sounds like breathing room to me. Things could be worse

Quote:
Quote:
DoingHomework: taking some community college classes.

Yes, let's just ignore the bills we have already and spend a few more hundred dollars of money we don't have on college classes, or get student loans. That's a very responsible plan, get into more debt. (sarcasm)

If things are as bad as you say, and I have no reason to doubt you, you can both get grants.

The bottom line is that YOU must find a way to do what needs to be done to help yourself. You completely ignored the question about what YOU need to do. I made suggestions and, as kombat said, you jumped down my throat. Well, perhaps that is part of the problem. Nevertheless, I am willing to try to help you figure some things out even if you continue to lash out. But you'll get nowhere if you don't want to work had.

Let's start by looking at your cash flow over the next several days. You say that a lot is due in 10 days. Can you list your income and outgo over the next month? Because your post made me think that you don't have to pay the debts for now.

I'm also wondering, do the parents have any source of income? If not then someone would be looking at getting them on Social Security.

You came here for help and people have offered it. It's now time to think about what YOU are going to do to help the situation. Your partner is already going way beyond what he should have to do.


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 Post subject: Re: $25k in debt and no idea how to proceed
PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2012 2:46 pm 

Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2007 9:36 am
Posts: 25
Quote:
If your debts were wiped out, you'd still lack sufficient income to support a family of 4 (3 of whom have ongoing medical issues).

Quote:
I'm also wondering, do the parents have any source of income? If not then someone would be looking at getting them on Social Security.

I know there's a lot of information there, which is why I haven't gone into further unnecessary details. So let me repeat from my original post: "Our bills are not merged with my partner's parents at all, so that helps marginally." These bills and income are from a family of 2. My partner's parents are their own separate sources of income and bills, which I have no idea where their money comes from or goes to, and it has no bearing on my and my partner's situation. Although it could mean that at any time they may decide they can't afford to hand over my rent contribution to my partner, which would screw him out of grocery money and gas money for me to get to appointments. But I expect that will be an discussion with time for us to budget accordingly if that happens.

Quote:
Also, I would strongly suggest that you take all necessary precautions to hold off on growing your family until you are on more stable financial footing. The last thing your family needs is more people to take care of.

With minor changes in income, we will be out of debt in 3 years and I feel perfectly comfortable working toward getting married and then giving us more people to take care of in that kind of timeframe, and not any sooner even if our financial situation magically rectified itself. In the meantime, there is only a miniscule chance that we will have any surprise increases in family members, that's been taken care of.

Quote:
You said those payment protection plans are making the minimum payments for you for 2 years and no interest is accruing during that time. Sounds like breathing room to me. Things could be worse.


I came here because as I said, even after all of the efforts I've made to get these payment protection plans working for me, we still aren't going to make our bills. I was very clear about that when I said, "In 3 months, two medical bills will be paid off. But I don't know that we can wait that long. At this rate, we will be unable to make some of these debt payments as early as November."

Quote:
You completely ignored the question about what YOU need to do.

Darn Tootin' I did, because the details of my medical situation is not your business beyond that it exists and how it impacts my finances, both things which I already outlined clearly. I've outlined my expected timeframe of recovery, and that's all that I feel comfortable sharing.
Quote:
Since I don't know the nature of your medical issues and am not a physician, I can't say whether there is anything you can do. But if there s something you can do to help your situation then you need to do it.

I also thought this sentiment meant your question was rhetorical, as in telling me I need to think about what I need to do, not that you were asking me to air my medical details online. Sorry for the miscommunication.

Quote:
Your partner is shouldering an enormous burden, is there anything you can do from home to help? Maybe turn a hobby into a side job, make some crafts, and sell them on Etsy? Maybe hit up some garage sales on weekends, and resell a few gems on eBay? A couple hours of housecleaning for a neighbor? Phone surveys? Anything at all you can do to help ease his burden?

As previously stated, "I'm not allowed to work or I lose $1500 a month in medical benefits," which means I cannot have any income in my name. Putting it in my partner's name is fraud. I'm also not comfortable doing things for other people (like housecleaning) that I can't even do for myself. I used to be pretty crafty and would love to sell things on etsy and ebay, but concentration and ability to use my hands has been a major part of my disability. But even then we are back to the fact that if I could do those things, I would just go get a job. That's kind of the whole idea of disability, that you can't do those things, or else they deny you because you can work. (Of course once you GET disability they want to rehabilitate you to be able to work again, which I'm fine with since that's my ultimate goal.)

As for easing my partner's burden, I do a lot. I keep the chores, projects, and meal plan lists organized so he knows what needs to be done when. I find ways of saving money (clipping coupons is out since we don't eat a lot of processed foods) or making things from scratch that were previously using convenience foods. I keep track of our gardening projects which has brought in food for us over the summer, and devise ways of expanding our gardening ability in our limited space. Over the last 6 months I've doubled our available gardening space with things we have on hand, though the drought killed most of my plants so we didn't get a great yield. I scour freecycle for free plant cuttings and seeds that can be used in the garden to feed us. I do some of the housekeeping, though so far most projects have to be shared since I can only do half of them--we split off what I can do and he does the rest, and I'm in charge of creating checklists so we know what we're working on. Mostly, I am good at organizing things and that's something I can still do, albeit to a lesser degree than I used to. I'm still capable of keeping those kinds of household things organized, but keeping that up plus organizing the entire staff at a job was more than I can do because of the physical requirements an employer needs to be profitable (and my last job wasn't willing to give the reasonable accommodations needed for me to do that job).

Quote:
Whatevah...at $6/day for gas I guess he'd have to bike 7 days. That's a huge difference and changes everything.

It doesn't change my original statement that "Gas is increasingly minimal as my partner has been able to start riding his bike to work more often." As soon as he is capable of commuting both ways, he will. It's already cut our gas costs in half--and he doesn't have another 7 days a month to ride to work to cut those costs. He doesn't even work 14 days a month, which is the other-way commute he needs to make that money you're saying we can find. It'll net us another $20 a month or so once he starts riding home from work. For now he needs to build up a bit more stamina in order for it to be safe. 90 minutes of riding + a 10 hour shift is not the time to be riding your bike across a wind-tunnel bridge at midnight in the rain and sleet like we had last night. I hope we can agree on that much at least!

Quote:
Can you list your income and outgo over the next month? Because your post made me think that you don't have to pay the debts for now.

As I said, 2 of my 8 cards have payment protection and I'm still working on activating them for my car loan.

Income for the next month:
We know of $269 because that's a check that will get deposited Oct 31 for bills Nov 1-15. Tips from oct 16-31 for the Nov 1-15 bills have not been received yet. That check also includes and extra 2 shifts of project work that has been completed and is no longer available for picking up extra hours, normally the checks are around $225. The schedule hasn't even come out for the check that will be deposited Nov 15 for the last half of the month's bills, so I can't tell you how much he'll be expecting in tips either. I can tell you that my partner earned $558 in wages last month (september), and $326 in tips. The remaining coverage for bills tapped the emergency find, which we drained this month.

My income is $200 in food stamps for my own groceries (not sharing with the house) and $197 in cash benefits to cover my expenses. This covers my rent/utilities which his parents just hand back to my partner for his own groceries and expenses like gas to be picked up from work and get me to my medical appointments, any medical supplies I need, plus toilet paper and the like (which we just cut costs by me switching to toilet cloth because we couldn't afford to keep buying toilet paper--when our stash runs out, he's just going to steal his parents' stash or switch to cloth, his choice). Kitty litter and cat food run about $10 a month and no we are not getting rid of a member of the family.

November Bills:
Nov 1-15 (which means we need the cash in the bank Nov 1)

CC: $25
CC: $75
CC: $25
CC: $20
P!Medical: $50
Auto loan: $240
CC: $31
My!Medical: $75
Blockbuster: $10
TOTAL: $551

Nov 16-30, due in bank Nov 15
Netflix: $9
P!CC: $200
CC: $30, deferred
Student loan: $30 (down from 60 last month)
Car Insurance: $100/month set aside*
Cell phones: $67
Storage: $80 ($115 last month)
CC: $10, deferred
TOTAL: $486 (591 last month)

* ranges from 500-600 every 6 months, I called this month to ask for additional discounts and they said to call back the first full week in November since they don't pull data to calculate discounts until the month the premium is due.

TOTAL monthly output with this plan: 1037
$18 for entertainment
$80 for off-site storage
$939 in minimum debt payments
+
$200 for Partner's groceries and our incidentals which evens out pretty closely, and if we have extra gets tossed into the pot for the next month's bills
+
$200 for my groceries (yes it seems high, but that includes most gardening costs since seeds and starts are covered by food stamps, and a medically-required specialty diet which I can't share much food with the family for both medical and legal reasons; if I do I lose my food stamps and we don't qualify if we include his parents in food benefits.)

Quote:
It's now time to think about what YOU are going to do to help the situation. Your partner is already going way beyond what he should have to do.

I AM thinking about what I can do to help, that's why I asked for help, to find out if bankruptcy is an option or if I'm missing some ideas that aren't so glaringly obvious.

But so you are aware, my partner is deeply offended that you characterize his actions as going "way beyond what he should have to do." He feels first and foremost that we all must do what we can, and there is no such thing as "beyond what someone should have to." He moved to take care of his aging parents because it is the right thing to do, and has not gone above and beyond the call of duty by doing so. On top of that, he's failing at helping the situation because he has failed to fulfill his obligations to get himself food stamps, for which he qualifies but hasn't gone for the interview that would get them activated. He has failed to fulfill his obligations for supplemental income through unemployment, which should gain him about $400 per month in income according to their records (enough, in case you missed it, to cover all our expenses and give us a little spending money), if only he could be bothered to make a phone call once a week. He has failed to find a superior job (due to his own lack of time and desire and experience), such as one that would keep us afloat longer. He doesn't want me pushing myself past my limits, which I do regularly to try to make this situation easier for us, because I want to do what I can within my abilities and the structure of the legal situation I'm fighting through, and because I'm afraid if I don't push my limits sometimes I won't know what they are.

Because our incomes and debts are intertwined, it was pertinent to include the information including his debts, bills, and income. But I didn't feel comfortable going out of my way to list his shortcomings, and I know I can't force my partner to do anything, so I stuck to my own responsibilities and asking for ideas what I can do about MY share of the debts. But since you tried to demonize me and put him on a pedestal, he asked that I enumerate his shortcomings in this situation as well. So there you have it. He's no saint, and I'm not the only one not picking up my end of the slack here (and in fact my partner doesn't feel I am leaving any "slack" to begin with)--I'm just the only one doing what I can to FIX it.


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 Post subject: Re: $25k in debt and no idea how to proceed
PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2012 3:06 pm 

Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2007 9:36 am
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Quote:
Josetann: I would simply look at what the best solution is on paper, THEN let emotion back in. Bankruptcy may be bad...but the alternative might be worse. Look at all your options and the repercussions, then choose the best path for you.


I guess what concerns me is that I don't know what all my options are, here. I don't even know where to get started with a bankruptcy process. I was really scared of it at first, but after looking at it logically, my credit is already dropping quickly into "poor" ratings and bankruptcy would allow me to start rebuilding faster than trying to slog through until I get disability payments (sometime next year if I'm lucky). All the other options I can find include going to work for less money than we need and thus losing my medical coverage (with two surgeries on the calendar!), or defrauding the government. Regardless of the ethical implications or my emotions, that's not exactly a good idea when your entire life and financial situation is under review by three government agencies! The repercussions of fraud or working would be a lot more devastating than $9k in credit card debt.

What I came here hoping for was some ideas to add to that list before I make a decision. So far I've found that the list of suggestions is about half of the list I've got so far, which is heartening in a way to find that I'm not the only one who thought of them. OTOH, it's disheartening that I've already stated certain things won't work for specified reasons and am now getting told that I'm attacking people by pointing out their suggestions have already been addressed and that I'm looking for something new.

Maybe the answer is, there isn't anything new, and bankruptcy is the only option that doesn't have insurmountable repercussions. And if that's the answer, I hope someone can answer the question I posed before, where do I even start with a bankruptcy process?


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 Post subject: Re: $25k in debt and no idea how to proceed
PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2012 4:52 pm 

Joined: Tue Jun 30, 2009 9:44 pm
Posts: 289
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
For someone asking for free advice, you sure have a terrible attitude. It's really disappointing to see you attack the commenters who are just trying to help. Despite my better judgment, I'll answer your last question:

Look up the legal aid society in your local area, or check the website for the bankruptcy court of the jurisdiction you live in. Most bankruptcy courts have all kinds of informational resources about the process, what to expect, what you need to do, etc. Here's a starting point: http://www.uscourts.gov/FederalCourts/Bankruptcy.aspx


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 Post subject: Re: $25k in debt and no idea how to proceed
PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2012 4:56 pm 
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It seems to me like your partner should be making the time to sign up for all the benefits he is eligible for. That would seem to be the short term solution.

I have not asked you what your medical condition is, and you are unwilling to share that. I can understand that. But I will say that my original suggestion about how to find the $40 a month for the pool was based on my (apparently erroneous) conclusion that you brought up the swimming for exercise need because it was somehow suggested by your doctor as a means to improve your condition. If my conclusion was wrong I apologize for any confusion that created. Let me be more direct. Would swimming be just for fun and relaxation or is it something that will help your recovery? In other words, is it a need or a want?

Bankruptcy might eliminate some or all of your debt and that might help in the short term. But if you can squeeze by until you/your partner get a couple of the smaller debts paid off (which you said you were close to doing) then perhaps you can avoid bankruptcy. If you are serious about having your own business even 10 years from now then you definitely want to avoid bankruptcy.

Honestly, I don't know what you want from us here. You have already cut to the bone. You've identified places where your partner could get a LOT more money by taking a few minor steps. Your medical condition is a complete mystery that first you say you'll never recover from short of a medical miracle then you say you are working on recovering and getting back to work. I can understand why you don't want to divulge all the details but it's really hard to make suggestions with so little information. If you said you might be all better in 2 years my suggestions would be completely different from what they'd be if you have no chance of ever recovering. That's just reality, not a judgement about you.

I can also understand the "trap" you are in where you get this $1500 a month in medical benefits that you'd have to overcome if you did try to go back to work. I can't blame you for not working right now.


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 Post subject: Re: $25k in debt and no idea how to proceed
PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2012 5:00 pm 
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Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2009 9:01 am
Posts: 5357
LeRainDrop wrote:
Look up the legal aid society in your local area, or check the website for the bankruptcy court of the jurisdiction you live in. Most bankruptcy courts have all kinds of informational resources about the process, what to expect, what you need to do, etc. Here's a starting point: http://www.uscourts.gov/FederalCourts/Bankruptcy.aspx


Bankruptcy is certainly an option, possibly a good one. But it will put a damper on your dreams of owning your own restaurant/bar for 10 years or so. That may not be the most immediate concern right now but don't ignore that.


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 Post subject: Re: $25k in debt and no idea how to proceed
PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2012 5:31 pm 

Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2007 9:36 am
Posts: 25
Quote:
For someone asking for free advice, you sure have a terrible attitude. It's really disappointing to see you attack the commenters who are just trying to help.

I don't see how I've attacked anyone. Other than possibly stating I think telling someone to "just find another $40 a month" to go swimming is bad advice, when if I could "just go find some money" I wouldn't be in this situation. I have stated my case, plainly and clearly, and I have repeated myself ad nauseum as necessary, and I have clarified miscommunications from people missing information or not having information that I hadn't originally thought necessary. None of that is "attacking."

Quote:
Would swimming be just for fun and relaxation or is it something that will help your recovery? In other words, is it a need or a want?

Exercise is a need, and something I have as a priority that is not being met. I included the information about swimming costing $40 a month because it's not a need I can meet without a change in finances, and because it's part of my financial picture. Fun and relaxation is also a need, especially in stressful situations, de-stressing is a required part of my recovery, and eventually exercising will be too.

Quality time with my partner is also a need, works for fun and relaxation, and that's why the Netflix and Blockbuster accounts are still things we keep and use together (because from experience we can keep ourselves entertained with them but without them we tend to lash out and do things like go to dinner or go shopping, things that cost a LOT more than $18 a month--so they are our compromise.) I mention those because certainly if we were JUST BARELY making ends meet then by dropping them I would be halfway to a pool membership, but without a way to wind down together at the end of the day or to have date nights at home, we tend to spend even more money. It is also important to note that swimming for exercise cuts into the hours I can spend being active at home reducing the burden on my partner, which means me swimming will increase some of the housework he has to do himself. Though he's totally accepted that, and anything I do around the house is considered a bonus and not a requirement or "my share" of anything--he plans on doing it all and I help where I can to take the pressure off.

Quote:
Your medical condition is a complete mystery that first you say you'll never recover from short of a medical miracle then you say you are working on recovering and getting back to work.

I said that my long-term plans include getting back to work (with)in five years, and that I could only get back to work within two years if there were a medical miracle.

Quote:
Honestly, I don't know what you want from us here. You have already cut to the bone.

To some degree I just needed some validation that I HAD already cut to the bone. And I was hoping that if I hadn't, I could get some advice on what to do before thinking about bankruptcy. Certainly some great advice has come up about the effects of bankruptcy on the future of owning a business, which is great, because I hadn't thought of that repercussion. I just needed some help thinking outside the box, but either none of us are thinking outside the box or I already made the box bigger--because we aren't really coming up with any alternative options here. It seems like my options are:
* file bankruptcy and suffer the potential consequences to my future dreams of owning a business, or
* muddle through, accept a few late fees if necessary, and hope that some of the paths we've been laying toward increasing income can pay out before we hit ruin.


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