Why I Refuse to Make Arrangements With Debt Collectors

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I believe I have mentioned before that I have a certain knack for pretending things don’t exist if they annoy me.  Debt annoys me and overwhelms me.  When I started the process this year, and really focused on the issue, I sat down and made a debt snowball listing, following the guidelines of Dave Ramsey.  For those who may not know, it means you list your debts in order smallest to largest.  Then you build an emergency fund of $1,000.  You decide what your minimum payments are, or the creditors tell you what you must pay, and you consider that your minimum payment.  You begin paying off debt by paying all of your extra money to the smallest bill first and make minimum payments on everything else.  Once you have paid off the first bill, you take the money you were paying on that bill and ADD it to the amount you’re paying on the second bill.  You continue this process until you’re debt free.

Before you read any further and think I am a total moron who has no business writing anything about finances, let me explain something. When we started accruing medical debt, I called each and every business we owed money. I spent hours on the phone trying to make some kind of payment arrangements. At the time, my husband was still waiting on some immigration paperwork to come through and was NOT ALLOWED to legally work. These companies were absolutely unforgiving and unwilling to try to work out ANY kind of affordable payment option. Not ONE business said “just pay us something and it’s ok”. I was constantly met with threats of collection agencies and law suits. When it first started we had about 6 medical bills and they ALL wanted about $40.00 a month. When I explained how many bills we had, and how it just was not possible at the time for us to pay that much, they told me they would accept nothing less. I offered to send $10.00 a month, $20.00 a month (which was still just about impossible at the time) and was told if I mailed a check, they would send it back.

I have stated here that my husband lost his job in January.  I make enough money on my own to support our household.  Barely.  As if all of that wasn’t stressful enough, that was also the time I decided enough was enough and I was going to face 3 years of debt.  I was also encouraged to handle it because we had already been sued.  Yes, I said those ugly words.  I put something off until it was too late and instead of making payments we can easily afford, we’re dropping $100.00 a month to a stupid lawsuit.  We’ve kept up with them, barely, but life would be a lot easier if I had dealt with the situation earlier.

Regardless, it happened.  Lesson learned.  So, in the middle of a job loss, a law suit, and too many other financial issues to count, no pun intended, I pulled my head out of the sand and faced the mountain of bills.  It took my husband and me about 3 hours to go through the pile, match them up and get them in order to truly figure out what we were facing.  Our total personal debt was right around $10,000.  About $7,500 of that was medical bills.  The rest is a combination of 2 small credit cards and a personal loan from my brother that helped with immigration.

$10,000 may not seem like a lot.  However, when you’re a one income household and it’s about 1/3 of your income, it’s a lot of debt.  I looked at our other bills, the credit cards, and figured what minimum payments we already were required to make.  Then I figured out what was left over.  At that time, we could pay $90.00 a month towards debt.  Pitiful right?  I took the number of bills we had, divided it by $90.00 a month and subtracted out the minimum payments we were already required to make.  Basically, we had $5.00 a month to pay each of our debtors.  However, I knew this was money my salary would be able to pay, so if something happened, if my husband lost his job again, I could still make the payments on my own.

It was mortifying to me.  How was I going to call 19-20 debtors and tell them we want to do the right thing?  How was I going to get them to understand that $5.00 was really all we had to give?  I called my Dad and asked him what he would do and I think he gave me the best advice:

Don’t bother calling them.  Don’t argue with them and get yourself stressed out.  Just send them the check.  They’ll cash it.

He was right.  At the end of last month I mailed out 20 checks to start paying down our debt.  We actually paid off our first bill.  I’ll pay off another one this month.  Another one the month after that.  So after all the stressing, arguing and frustration those companies finally did decide $5.00 was enough.  Only one of them has sent a letter in regards to the payments.  It was along the lines of “Thanks for the payment, but we need to come to an agreement on what you’ll pay.”  They are going to get a nice little letter back that says, “Thanks for your letter, and here is the next payment, but we’re paying you what we can, and you’re in position #whatever on the list.  Because we are diligently paying our debt down as fast as possible, our payments will increase when we can get to you.”  I’m not going to call them, I’m not going to listen to some person try to bully me into spending more money than I can in order to pay them.  Why?

We control our budget.  No one else.  I will NEVER allow someone to dictate payments to me again.  I will not become so stressed out that I shut down because some jerk on the phone has a job to pressure me.  I will not be bullied into making bad financial decisions for our family and I will stand strongly against anyone who tries to push me around.  We could have filed bankruptcy, but we’re trying to do the right thing.  No one is going to take that away from us.  EVER. 

Now that my husband is working again, we hope to have all of this debt gone by the end of the year.  I can’t wait to see if we meet that goal!

 

Have you ever had to fight with debt collectors?  How did you handle it?  I really want to hear about your experiences!

Why I refuse to make arrangements with debt collectors

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Author: Jill Stewart

I am a 37 -year-old woman from Arkansas who is happily married to a Scottish immigrant aka “the hubby” “the hubs” or if I am calling him directly “YO YOU!” We’ve been married for 3 years and it’s been a crazy ride, and unfortunately our finances have been beat to death in the last few years. We have two dogs and a cat, no kids. The Blog- What’ll you find: Financial Information as we try to become debt free My attempts at working and trying to maintain a home to the standards I like My adventures in learning how to sew Arts and craft projects Funny tidbits from my life including living with a Scottish person, the dogs, and other oddball things that happen to me. What you won’t find: Much on children. I don’t have kids and I can’t have kids. Recipes- I don’t mind cooking, but unless it’s something really special, don’t come here looking for the weekly recipe! You won’t find it- unless you ask my husband. If you’re interested in what you see, please follow me on Facebook or sign up for emails! Most of all, leave a comment or ask a question! I am always happy to hear from you!

11 thoughts on “Why I Refuse to Make Arrangements With Debt Collectors

  1. Good for you! Slowly but surely you will kick these bills to the curb. Debt collectors are TERRIBLE! Not even worth having a conversation with.

  2. We have also been struggling with debt. I’ve never heard of the snowball before, and might be something we should look at. Between my hospital bills, and my husbands student loans, I’ve really been stressing out about bills lately. I’ve actually had to block a number on my cell, because they keep calling trying to reach my husband about his student loans. I’ve given them his number, told them my number is the wrong one, and to stop calling me. But, unsurprisingly, they won’t.

  3. I am single person with a single income. I had three store credit cards for years and I paid them faithfully every month and then the company I was working for closed. I had savings, but I also have a mortgage and car payment. I tried to talk to the creditors to let them know what was going on. Every penny I had went to keep a roof over my head and my car so I could look for another job. My savings went quick. When I finally did get back to work, I had to pay back the family that loaned me money first. Now, I am struggling to pay these people back. I owe $5,000 and they are relentless. They have even called my father looking for me — they know where I am. Putting pressure on me is not helping the situation. I want to pay them back and do the right thing, but I don’t even know where to start.

    The debt collectors have no understanding at all. I tell them that I am making less now, my savings is gone, but I want to pay them. They just threaten and threaten and threaten. I am so stressed out over it.

    • Erin,

      I am so sorry this is happening to you. A job loss is hard enough, but dealing with the harassment daily is part of what made me ignore the problem, so I understand how hopeless it feels.

      Plain and simple. Ignore them. Figure out how much YOU CAN pay them and start sending checks while you get back on your feet. That way IF you do end up being sued down the road (they may not depending on the balance), you can show a judge what you were making and that you were paying them.

      You can also ask them for the address to send a cease and desist letter. If you send one, make sure you certify it so you can prove they received it. Once they have that letter they will only be able to contact you by mail. If they continue to call you after they have received it, you can sue THEM to the moon and back under FDCPA guidelines!

      I hope this helps you out. Good luck and if you need any other help, please feel free to email me at mendedwheels@gmail.com

  4. This is a good article but you need to give credit where credit is due. Sounds like a lot of Dave Ramsey here!

    • You are absolutely correct as far as the snowball plan goes. I will update that shortly (I thought I HAD put it in there!). Thank you for catching that and thank you for dropping by!

  5. Loved your post, your father is a smart man! Good for you for taking the debt challenge. We started the Dave Ramsey plan in January, not as part of a new year’s thing or anything but just because I am so sick of paying all these bills every month. Who knew you can actually watch it go down when you put your mind to it and just DO IT!

    So far we have paid off 4 credit cards and in 2 months we will have 3 fully paid off vehicles (my car was paid off before we got married and we paid cash for a truck 2 years ago) we are just paying off my husbands car. After that we begin the student loan mountain. My husband has been having a problem with one of his student loans reporting to the credit bureau that they refuse to remove, since that is the first one in the list to be paid off we are going to hoard that money until they come to an agreement to remove it from his credit or they won’t get their money until very last of the debt snowball!

    They have been real pains about it. He was late on one payment one time 4 years ago and they refuse to forgive it. He has sent them a letter every month for the last 2 years and they have not responded. So we have a plan to pay the minimum to them while saving the extra until they agree to take it off. If they refuse to take it off even when we tell them “Hey we have the full balance and want to pay you off, please remove this or we will move on and you will continue to receive the minimum amount until paid off”. Then we will move on and drop the entire amount saved onto the next bill!

    • Thank you, I am glad you loved the post, and my father certainly is a smart man about a lot of things.

      I think debt is just so overwhelming and frustrating. Especially when it’s over medical bills and things that can’t be controlled. We can always chose not to have credit cards and not to make car payments, but we can’t chose to get kidney stones or pancreatitis!

      I’m hoping for us, this will be a chance to get those bills knocked out and to have enough of an emergency fund in place that we can breathe a bit!

      it’s pretty scary though because there are lots of major repairs that need to happen to the house and honestly, my car is about dead. BLEH!

  6. I did the same thing as you, but in Florida, rhey went after my paycheck anyway, 15%

    • Well, as I stated one of them sued us, but luckily they have not garnished. However, we are keeping our arrangements with them after the suit, so that might make a difference.

      They are able to come after paychecks here directly as well and for the same amount.

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