DH and I have managed to rack up about $40K in credit card debt over the past several years buying stuff and eating out. We have seen our error like a brick wall but now we need to find our way out. Does anyone have any suggestions for a good financial budgeting program? I know that Crown Financial has a wonderful Catholic program called Crown Catholic, but there are no counselors in our area. We’d like to maybe sit down with someone who will tell us exactly how to do this but I would love your input. Specific books or programs would help a lot. thanks-twk
Look for a credit counseling organization affiliated with the NFCC or AICCCA. Go to either website and look up organizations there.
There are some agencies that have local offices for in-person appointments. Others offer phone and internet counseling options also if there isn’t anyone in your area for an in-person appointment.
Many also offer local community education classes and/or internet-based classes and articles.
Check out this website and see if your local library carries her books. I used her book, “Young, Fabulous, and Broke” after I graduated from college…it helped with my financial decisions and hopefully you’ll find some of her advice will apply to your situation as well.
Veritas Financial Ministries is a good Catholic resource. The founder, Phil Lenahan, is going to be on CA Live on January 7th, I believe.
Find a reputable credit counselor near you (a good resource is the National Foundation for Credit Counseling) who can help get you enrolled in a debt management plan.
I have used Consumer Credit Counseling. They are very good. Plus, they are nonprofit.
DW ran up close to $70K in debt on her cards. It has taken her 10 years and the end is almost in sight. CCC was the agency she went through.
“The Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey is a great book. I would definitely recommend anyone to read it.
I second Dave Ramsey resources. We spent $18 on this book and in 18 months, conquered $31,000 of debt and saved $28,000 cash for our China Adoption.
My wife and I are not-for-profit Dave Ramsey certified counselors. Its disappointing they don’t “market” the non profit counselors. They only “market” for profit counselors.
You can read his book, mentioned above. Or you can go through the 13 week bible study, “Financial Peace University.” He also has a 3-hour radio program called “The Dave Ramsey Show.” and he has a relatively new TV show on Fox Business Network. He also does live events across the country. His website has details for each.
Very practical, easy to understand information. He’s an EXCELLENT consumer advocate. His information is biblically based. You’ll enjoy learning from him. He’s very entertaining in his education.
i will recommend dave ramsey as well. super easy recommendations, common sense and easy to understand reasoning behind advice. i love it. it’s not easy at first, but you will get out of debt!!!
start selling your “stuff” on ebay and get back some of the bucks. all income over basic expenses–mtge, utilities, payment for one car, food–should go to pay off debt, using one of two strategies–consolidate for a lower rate. consult the bank that holds your mortgage they may be willing to work with you to protect their interests. then pay the min on all cards except the one with the highest interest rate, put the biggest payment there. when that one is gone, pay the bulk on the card with the next highest rate. close each account as it is paid off. you must do this both by calling customer service and sending a certified letter.
if you can’t consolidate, the other strategy is pay the min. on all cards except the one with the lowest balance, and pay that off first, and continue that way, and every time you free up another min. payment, put it on the card with the next lowest balance, because you pay cards off faster and have more to apply.
CUT UP ALL CARDS
That is not enough to close accounts. call the customer service number for each account, tell them to block new purchases, and that you are paying off the balance asap, and want your credit limit lowered to your balance. also tell them not to send you those enticing “free checks with no interest until July” or any other promotions. You may keep one card if one of you needs it for business, but it should be the lowest interest rate, with the most generous grace period, and kept locked in a drawer when not in use. If you self control is so bad you can’t manage that, sorry, you cannot have it.
NO NEW PURCHASES. NONE. NADA. Wear your clothes until they schred, make your cars last, no appliances, no electronics, no eating out, no entertainment except what is free.
look over your utilities. where can you economize. by consolidating internet, cable, phone, long distance, cell, etc? by breaking up such a consolidation and getting rid of services you don’t need? dropping your phone for pre-paid cellular? dropping satellite? whatever it takes do it. unplug appliances, adapters, chargers that are not in use, turn off lights, stop using unneeded appliances. turn heat down and a/c up.
Let kids know the story, kids, we are in debt and have to pay it off so there will not be new purchases. it is nobody’s business outside this family, but you need to know, even though it is not your fault, we will all have to make sacrifices.
whatever else you drop, do not drop health insurance and preventive care. most people who get hopelessly in debt and never get out do so because of medical bills, that’s what can make you homeless.
I second the advice of those who recommend Christian or Catholic financial counselling, allied with a spirituality of stewardship aimed toward proper regard for and use of God’s gift. To me it is absolutely essential for every Catholic family to develop this attitude if they are ever to enjoy the material wealth they do have, and avoid the spiritual pitfalls inherent in both poverty and in wealth.
The only thing I have against Credit Counseling Services is that we can really do it all on our own if we just bother a bit.
We don’t have to give money to somebody to clean up a mess we made. Plus, we’d expose ourselves to learning during the clean up and that will give us wisdom in the process.
I’m not sure how much is learned when we write someone a check and then let them handle the details. Seems like that would put us at risk of repeating the behavior that got us into the mess in the first place.
Just an uneducated thought.
Big second on Dave Ramsey. Down to earth financial advice, step-by-step plan for getting out of debt, and Christian!
Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCC) the only one with whom I have had personal experience (making referrals for clients in need of the service) is a non-profit, and can negotiate with your lenders for consolidations, lowered interest rates, even in some cases suspend interest charges for a period, and limit the total you have to pay. plus using their service usually includes a mandatory financial education process as well.
i’m so grateful to God this question was asked on this board. we, too, are drowning in debt. tonight i said to Husband, “two thousand eight has got to be the year we begin to get out of debt.”
a few years back we paid several hundred dollars for a financial guy to say “spend less. make more.” that’s really what he said.
25 years ago, i was a single parent with a couple of kids. somehow we got by on $80 monthly foodstamps. these days, i can spend $80 on two days of groceries. I’ve lost a few hardscrabble survival skills along the way. (the scale attests to that.)
we know this is not God’s will for us. looking over the receipts always indicates the same thing: poor planning of groceries, car trips, etc. lots of eating out, gassing up for extra trips etc. we have got to change a lot of habits.
thanks all for adding some direction to the motivation.
I truly believe you will be blessed to find Dave Ramsey’s “Financial Peace University” near you. The average family going through “FPU” saves $2,500 and pays off $5,500 of debt in the 91 days during the course. Imagine going through this wil 5-10 other couples to encourage you, keep you accountable and cheering you on! Its a great class. It’s also available online if there is not a class near you.
“Financial Peace” is such a GREAT name for the study. It will impact your finances, your marriage, productivity at work due to less stress. You’ll be able to GIVE more than you ever have, you’ll be assured of a solid future with retirement and kids college savings started.
I think you have hit on a very real problem that afflicts families in general, and contributes to the problem of families in debt–we have somehow, many of us, lost basic living skills.
Not just math, balancing a checkbook, knowing how the money market works, knowing how the money flow works, but how to do day to tasks of living ourselves, without paying others to do poorly what we could do well.
Cooking and eating is one of the biggest areas, somebody here probably has statistics for how many meals the average American eats outside the home, but that number has exploded in recent years. We pay more, take more time, to eat lower quality food, in mass quantities, increasing not only the cost of the food we eat, but the added cost in mileage, unproductive time, and health damage.
Car repair people tell me the overwhelming majority of people ignore the most routine checks–changing oil, filters, checking belts and hoses, replacing fuses, keeping the car clean to reduce rust etc. When the car breaks down not only is their a repair cost, hundreds more than what maint. would cost, but cost of alternate transport, lost work, etc.
Simple household maintenance is another… How much of what goes wrong with a house (including that which gets reported to insurance claims) is the fault of the residents failing to do simple repairs and upkeep–appliances and wiring to code, electrical safety, dozens of items plugged in one outlet with power strips, overloaded circuits, frayed and worn cords, flammable materials for furniture, lampshades, decorations etc… Not dusting refrigerator coils or back, thermostats set wrong or no thermostats, running TVs, computers appliances, chargers all the time–a million ways to waste expensive energy, water and other utilities.
what could the average family save by a determined effort to eliminate waste for a year? wasted energy, wasted water, wasted food, wasted packaging materials, wasted clothing (tossed rather than cleaned and repaired), wasted time.
What REALLY kicked things off for us was doing a monthly written spending plan. We call it a “zero balance budget.”
We take our income at the top of a page, and take our bills for the month and monthly items (groceries, gas, clothes, hair care, etc.) and spend all the money on paper for that pay period until we get “$0” BEFORE we get paid.
That will FORCE you to live on less than you make. Make every dollar work. If you want to get out of debt, you have to find ways to cut spending and increase income.
Very simply stated, very hard to exercise.
Just wanted to add that I was not able, on my own, to get the banks to lower my finance charges from 32% to 9% like CCS did. Without that intervention, I would have been paying on my debt until my last breath.
Some people definitely can do it themselves-- especially those who are not yet behind on their debts. Making a budget and a plan to repay using the Dave Ramsey “snowball” would work great for people who still are in some level of control.
But, some people are so far in the hole that a program through credit counseling can give them help they cannot get by sticking it out on their own. This is typically people who have missed payments and now have incurred a default interest rate and penalties such as late fees-- upwards of 30% interest rate and $35/mo late fees adding to the balance.
Many credit card companies do have hardship programs you can ask for yourself. However, these programs are often short-term, only 6 months or less. Also, they do not offer the same level of benefit that a debt management plan does.
In the case of going on a debt management plan, the creditors give more concessions because those on these plans are shown statistically to pay off their debt with greater completion rates than those not on a plan.
Each creditor sets their own terms, but in general the concessions they make include a reduced interest rate plus stopping late fees and overlimit fees and reaging the account to a “current” status after several payments. This really stops the crisis level of escalating debt and allows a person to begin making headway in reducing the debt. Most internal hardship programs will not give this level of assistance-- and also the concessions given on a debt plan go for 5 years, not 6 months like a hardship plan.
You are right, some people can do it themselves. But, credit counseling is there for those who can’t.