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Archive for June, 2008

Run Away Car with No Driver

June 30th, 2008 at 11:09 am

This weekend my DH and I are invited to a party. The house we were invited to sits at the top of a very long steep driveway. All the time my DH is driving up the hill he is telling me horror stories that occurred through the years on that road and people who have gone off it; especially in the winter months, it was very steep and appeared to be a second class road. So we get to the top of the hill and he mindfully parks the car in a vertical position across the hill, puts it in gear and puts on the emergency brake.

We go join the crowd and about an hour into the event everyone is running out the door yelling about a car; I can't see my parked car anymore and you guessed it, our car kicked out of gear and headed down the hill on it is own; hitting another car and passing several others. My car is now probably totalled; the other car doesn't look much better.

I'm insured, but probably not for long; I have had two accidents (neither my fault) in the last year and a speeding ticket. So what is the good news out of this; there has to be some? I don't have to sell the car now, I'll get an insurance check and no one was hurt; accept DH's pride and he will deeply miss the car.

I've never seen anything like this in my life;it was totally bizarre.

Should I use a Realtor?

June 21st, 2008 at 10:46 am

My house is for sale, I put a sign out front and listed it on Craig's List a few weeks ago. I checked with my local paper and it is $19.50 to run an ad on Saturday with a picture of the house; I thought that was cheap. I thought I would try this for a month and see what happens.

We have two houses; one is rented until the end of August. On August 1st I will have two mortgages to pay and we need to sell this house. I don't know how long we can make two mortgage payments and the housing market doesn't seem to be picking up here. Without a housing market; I am losing income and the ability to make two mortgage payments. Our total monthly payments are about $4,600 with the two houses, vehicles, insurance and utilities. On August 1st I can terminate my Verizon wireless plan which will save me $175 a month. In September we will be moving into the second property and that should reduce my cable, telephone and internet bill, currently it is about $200 a month and if I get the comcast package it will be less. The DH and is going to try to get a home equity loan so we can put a new window in the second home (the current one is old and losing heat), new carpet and a wood pellet stove and pellets for the winter. I don't know who can afford the predicted $5.00 a gallon for fuel oil; my mother paid $5.09 a gallon for kerosine last week. I'm really worried about the poor and the elderly this winter; I just don't see how they will be able to make it, I'm praying for a mild winter here.

So I'm really debating with thoughts about selling the house. Should we try to sell on our own or bite the bullet and pay a Realtor 6%? If we use a Realtor, it will probably leave us with about $5,000 in net proceeds; not even enough to pay my tax implications on my debt settlement. I wish I had sold the house a few years ago when the market was still thriving, now everyone is giving low offers just because the economy is stuggling. If I can't get enough money for the house; I may have to rent it.

Once I can sell this house things should start looking up financially; I just hope it sells, it's a nice house in a nice location and is not too expensive; I listed it for $174,900 but the lowest I'd take is $165,000 and my house is within walking distance of the town school and the ski area is a mile away; it was a great home to raise my children in.

Negotiating Debt

June 4th, 2008 at 11:22 am

This has been a journey and for the last six months,it has been a living hell. I had never had a credit issue in over 20 years and then the housing market crashes and like thousands of people; we have found ourselves in a personal finance dilemna. What to do and how to handle it?

There are several things that people do, some file bankruptcy, some go through debt management programs, some settle their debts with their creditors for less and some just take the approach of "do nothing and it will go away". Throughout this process I called "debt settlement companies" and did consider using a few of them. Then one of them told me to go ahead, try to settle myself and I would be "sued". I saw that as a fear tactic and felt that if they could do it, I could do it. I consulted with a bankruptcy attorney and he advised me that creditors don't want to hear from anyone but their customer and you could actually increase your risk of being sued by hiring a third party. So I sat down, added up my debt, took an amount of about 45% and decided that is what I would need. I also knew in order to be successful I would need to settle everything within 180 days before they were charged off. So I borrowed, received money from family and sold personal possessions and saved and budgeted every dime I could.

Now here I am, down to my last creditor and I only have about 60 days left on that account to settle it. I don't have enough money so I have cleaned out my shed, cleaned out my basement and am advertising a few items in the local paper. I'm selling some office equipment I had stored away and a rototiller. That should give me about $1,000 and will help with the process. My car is still broken, but right now this is priority. I have another used car to get me around until I can afford to fix my primary car; although that is in the garage right now with a warranty item that was replaced last year. I have two cars, one is a summer car and it's 9 years old and my primary car is 8 years old.

With all the creditors I dealt with, my hardest creditor to deal with has been Discover. They called frequently, sometimes 4 times a day. I would talk to them in the morning and they would call three more times before the day was out. They were difficult to deal with; they would always ask the same questions even though I knew they had notes. Then when you were done and I had told them I did not have a normal wage and couldn't make monthly payments, they would ask if they could charge my account for the amount due (like they didn't hear a word I said); they would then ask if they could speak to another family member and etc. Then they would say they were going to get someone to help stop the calls and they would transfer me to another collection person and put me through the whole thing again. I knew the routine so I would hang up when they tried to transfer me. I was very intimidated by them, I lost sleep and was a nervous wreck after talking to them. This is what they do, in the beginning when you are late they will agree to settle at 85%, then after about 90 days they start talking 60% and then one person told me Discover never settles for less than 60%, well about 10 days before chargeoff (charge off usually occurs at 180 days) they dropped to 50% of the total balance. I was able to settle my account at 50% just before charge off and that was a big tool they used to settle, "if you settle now you won't be reported as charged off, it will be an R-9 "settled" which is better than a charge off. So I made sure I settled before charge off. However, I pull my credit 10 days later and it is reported as a charge off by Discover. I called them and they said it is my problem and I have to dispute it with the credit bureau. So just one more nasty and one last insult.

What I have learned here is that if you are having a "true hardship" most creditors are sympathetic and will work with you. Citi called me and told me they were sorry I was in such financial distress and they offered me a settlement at 38%. I believe it is an industry secret rarely discussed, but debt settlement is real and available to people who cannot pay their debts and are in financial crisis.

My hope in blogging about this experience is that it will help others who are overextended and need to bring their lives back into control and financial stability versus filing bankruptcy.

What are the affects on my credit after this? My credit score is 630 and I think that after 12 good months, I will probably be back up, at least over 660. I have 11 negatives on my report and 32 positives, because this is the first time in my life I have had a problem, I will probably recover faster than some people will.

I was hoping to have this all done by the end of June, but that won't happen. I'm short about $1,500 to settle with my last creditor, my car is broke down, my son is graduating from high school, my daughter is getting married and I have some additional expenses I did not expect, i.e. some travel expense and dental expense. So it will be difficult but I will find a way.

I will be broke, but I will be credit card free.

Another Settlement; what to do about the car?

June 1st, 2008 at 10:48 pm

I just settled another credit card and tomorrow I'm suppose to finish the next one. These cards are both with the same company and have been very hard to deal with. After I have them both "settled" I will share this experience. I did settle with them on one card before chargeoff, but they did not share their end of the bargain, which shouldn't surprise me after all I have been through with this company. I will give further information on this and how I intend to deal with it after they are done with me and I am done with them.

I have been trying very hard to save more money to finish this up, I also had a yard sale. However, my car broke down and it's eight years old, the muffler broke which was going to be very expensive but my mechanic figured out a way to fix it for less, would have been $1,800 but instead cost me $850, but now my clutch is going and after a long winter, the paint is starting to peel off my front fenders, so it needs to be touched up. I really need to trade the car with the cost of a clutch at $1,000, paint at $1,000 and if I have to have a maintenance kit it will be another $1,500 and the motor in my automatic window on the driver side is going too and sometimes the window won't roll up. The car is only worth about $4,700 and I owe $5,200 - what would you do? I don't have the money to trade nor do I have the money to fix it? My DH says he will trade it for me if we need to, but I don't want any more debt.

My house is on the market and we thought we had an interested party, but he changed his mind for now. He will come here mid July and look at the house again. I hope to have a contract on it before then. If I get a contract on it I am hoping to make enough money to pay my IRS tax implications from debt settlement. Also, our rental property needs a new window and a wood stove before winter. We are not paying the predicted $5.00 a gallon for oil this year and are getting a "wood pellet" stove. It should pay for itself the first year and it is eco-friendly.

So much going on right now, my daughter is getting married and there is major expense with my dress, DH's suit and my sons Tux (he's in the wedding). It is not a good time for me to be having these problems; this is my only daughter and her father is deceased, so I'm it.

My son had his senior prom so I had the tux expense, tickets and his dinner. His father didn't offer to help and he has a lot more money than I do. This is the way it has been for years, through my kids college and etc., I'm always it, their father doesn't feel the need to contribute much at all and won't help with any of the kids car expense, entertainment and etc.

We have graduation as well, but this shouldn't be too bad. I can just have a BBQ here after the ceremony. When it rains it pours.

I want so badly to end this debt settlement but with all these extra expenses I'm really going to have to get creative. I have put together some personal possessions that I could try to sell; a ring, office equipment, rototiller - I'm working on it.