We Are Trapped in Bad Debt and See No Way Out

Question:

Dear Steve,

My husband and I decided to prepare for a family. We got two family-friendly vehicles before trying for a child (since I actually totaled my paid off the car after hitting a deer and his truck wasn’t safe for a car seat).

Everything was going great. We had bought all main essentials for a baby so we could be prepared.

My husband works for the county and I am an RN. We had car debts and some credit card debts but overall we were easily paying our bills. I got pregnant and unfortunately had some complications and ended up giving birth at 25 weeks to our son who was Only 1 lb.

They didn’t have a NICU where we live and so my son was hours away from home. I decided to stay with while he was in the hospital. I asked to stay out longer than 6 weeks and was let go. This was okay because honestly with my son’s medical issues there is no way he could go to daycare once he came home, it’s too unsafe of an environment for his immune system and due to his needs.

Unfortunately, I was the breadwinner. He eventually came home after over 3 months of being in intensive care. Fast forward 16 mo later and we’re barely making it. We still cannot put our my son in daycare, so returning to work is not an option. Our son is LUCKY to be alive because with everything that has happened statistically he shouldn’t be. We do not take that blessing lightly and know above all else we HAVE to put his health first, period.

But even with my husband working 2 jobs we can barely make it. In fact, our expenses are more than our income, so we literally have to use the credit card after we pay that months payment to afford to get by. My husband is thinking about making a career change that could hopefully bring in a little more income, but not much.

My question is what to do? How do we get ahead when we’re barely treading water? We cannot trade in our cars, we’ve looked into it multiple times and have negative equity. Even if we sell outright to a private party we would still have negative equity. All we want to do is be able to at least afford our bills without having to keep using the credit card after making the minimum monthly payment and we have no idea how to do this? We don’t know where to start? Family/parent help isn’t an option. Where do we go from here?

Kristie

Answer:

Dear Kristie,

First off, I’m glad you’ve had the opportunity to spend quality time with your son. It sounds as if you are very well qualified to fill that role and that the entire experience with the finances has been stressful.

While you don’t see any easy answers to your situation right now you need to keep in mind that you don’t have experience in these issues and they are emotionally charged which leads to decision making paralysis.

Based on my experience it appears you are caught between a number of competing issues and you are sliding downhill slowly.

Money problems are resolved by increasing income, reducing expenses, or a combination of the both.

The odds are not good that with a slight increase in income from a job change that this situation is going to get better faster.

To gently ease you towards a well-informed decision I’d love it is you and your husband both read How to Get Out of Debt. The Honest and Unvarnished Truth.

You should also read Those That File Bankruptcy Do Better Than Those That Don’t.

I’m not suggesting filing bankruptcy is your only option. But what I am strongly advising is you can’t make any solid decision based on facts and reality as long as you are uninformed and gazing through the cloud of emotional stress.

It is very hard to find an independent Debt Coach who can guide you through good decision making but people like Damon Day and Michael Bovee are out there.

When you call nearly all debt relief providers, they will, of course, be naturally biased towards the solution they sell. But to help you evaluate an exciting message from a debt relief salesperson, use these guides.

If I was to give you a quick assessment of your situation based on what you shared, this would be my advice:

  1. Talk to an independent Debt Coach about your specific situation to get unbiased advice.
  2. Use my online How to Get Out of Debt Calculator to get an overview of common solutions.
  3. Take a deep breath. You are not on fire. There is no need to make a hasty bad decision.
  4. Take the action you decide on and turn your life energy from trying to repair the past to make the future better.

A better future is at hand and in a few short months, your life can be on a much better financial trajectory.

Steve Rhode
Get Out of Debt GuyTwitter, G+, Facebook

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This article by Steve Rhode first appeared on Get Out of Debt Guy and was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.