August 24, 2013

8 Steps to Deal With Debt. ~ Sonya Joseph

I’m in debt. 

The debt was accrued during my marriage, which is now over. I made the choice when we were divorcing to take responsibility for our debt. I knew that if I took responsibility it would be paid off and I would be free. 

I also knew that if I tried to get him to pay his share it: a) wouldn’t happen and b) I’d still be talking to him every week.


I’m within a few months of paying off seven of our ten creditors. There will be one debt that I will settle within a year and two debts that are just going on an automatic payment for the next five years or so. I’m feeling good, liberated and excited about having a credit score that people will not scorn.

I know many people are dealing with a similar experience with debt. Or maybe they aren’t dealing with it. I didn’t deal with mine for a long time because it was just so overwhelming. But I was ready when I was ready. You’ll get there.

Now I’m no experienced economist, I’m just someone who has been through this. I am someone who is beating this beast and I’ve learned some things the economists don’t always tell you.

So I’ll tell you.

1. Don’t beat yourself up.

Whether you’ve become responsible for someone else’s bad choices (and your own bad choice in sticking with them), or medical bills or the results of unemployment or you were just buying things you couldn’t afford, no matter what got you here, that’s all in the past. Right now you can be the person who cleans up messes, who takes responsibility. Stay with that.

2. Talk about it.

Don’t bitch, whine or moan. Just be up front and honest. Be blunt, be self-deprecating and humorous about it if you need to, but don’t let it become a secret. Not only does this free you emotionally but little bonuses start coming your way. When I was up front with my employers about it, they recommended me for opportunities to earn a little extra. When I was up front with my friends about it, they offered to pay for gas or a drink or were willing to just stay in with me. When I was up front with my neighbors, they helped me with odd jobs and moving furniture and shared fruit from their gardens. When I needed to move, one of my neighbors who manages an apartment building got me in without a credit check.

3. Get an app that blocks calls from creditors who would harass you.

Mr. Number rocks. Creditors cannot call me and compromise my peace of mind any time they want. When I have some money for my debts I call them. They treat me with more kindness when I make it clear that if they provoke me to hang up, I’ll just call the next creditor and give them the money this month.

4. Write to the credit reporting companies disputing all negative accounts you have.

You can Google how to do it. A lawyer recommended this. I discovered two of my creditors had gone out of business and no one there wanted money from me.

5. Talk to the student loan people.

If you are carrying loans for yourself or for your kids, just talk to them. They have several different ways they can give you a forbearance over the phone. They can wait while you pay off everyone else. Then go to them and arrange a payment that you can afford—keep it small, even if it takes ten years or twenty or more. But they are patient, much more so than a regular collection agency.

6. If you have any creditors that you owe a small amount to, prioritize them.

I noticed that every time I got finished with one creditor completely, my credit score went up! A slightly increased credit score can make a big difference—it can mean being able to move to a less expensive place, it can mean getting a car loan so you can get to a job that pays better, it can mean a debt consolidation loan so that you only have one creditor and one payment instead of several.

7. Celebrate your successes.

Not with anything expensive but congratulate yourself when you make a payment or lose a creditor. You beat yourself up for mistakes, right? When you get it right, enjoy it. I make periodic lists of my recent accomplishments and it helps me not sink into the mire of my own mind.

8. Meditate.

I found that when I meditated regularly, I was kinder to myself, less apt to respond in anger to someone on the phone. I was able to put all this stress in perspective and bottom line, I felt better.

Like right livelihood on Facebook.

Asst. Ed: Kristina Peterson/Ed: Sara Crolick

{Photo: Mark Wagner on the incredible Dark Roasted Blend}

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