The Positive Ramifications of Do-It-Yourself Credit Repair
Many couples have been merrily breezing along then, IT happened. There was not enough money to meet all the monthly obligations. Living in the suburbs, a two-paycheck family with 2 children with soccer, little league baseball, golf and club memberships, spas all sandwiched and woven into the tapestry of the McDonald family. Steve and Karen had considered themselves, being well educated and well read, above the fray of the struggles of the other “Jones”. There was no reward unworthy of their attention.
Suddenly the kitchen table, with a stack of unpaid bills, became the center of their universe. Steve and Karen came to a quick conclusion, that they now had a severe financial problem. Denial was no longer an option. Previously, Steve and Karen had noted in the church bulletin announcing an ongoing class in credit counseling. Churches and other non-profits became aware of the degree of pain and deep divisiveness that a credit challenged family will undergo. Many a credit crisis ended in divorce and even a loss of their home and much of their self-respect. It has been found anyone going through this credit-challenged period may suffer mental depression, which can magnify health issues. Masking with alcohol abuse or worse just prolongs the inevitable. This ongoing program had some success with several couples. Testimonials touted the change in enrollees credit situations over time. Early on it was noted that a blue print could be provided and worked out, but the parties have to repair their credit themselves. It was a Do-It-Yourself Credit Repair program. The helping hand was right at the end of the elbows of each couple.
The meetings turned out to be on a Monday evening. Because this was a family based program focused on getting every member of the family on board; the children were in attendance with childcare provided on site. Depending on the ages of the children, there was a segment allocated to exactly what was going on with the whole family involved with individual family break out sessions. Later on, it would make for short family discussions of why this or that activity or entertainment needed to be changed or cut back. At this break out session, a family consensus was necessary on a course of action to proceed to the next step. Each enrolled couple needed to pay for a credit report from each of the three main credit bureaus. This generally ran - per credit reporting agency or a little over . You can get a free credit report from the bureaus, but it does not have the credit scores, which will serve as a ready benchmark for progress in the program. The first order of business was to deal with the shame and embarrassment of a couple finding themselves in this situation. With ready credit being offered with each delivery of mail, all you have to do is sign your name and you got some plastic money. Like drugs, “Just Say No”.
With the credit reports in hand and each outstanding bill with account numbers and contact phone numbers carefully catorgized on a summary sheet together with a priority selection of secured debt and unsecured debt the process began. Secured debt would be a house payment, car, etc. If one does not pay these secured debts they foreclose on the house or repossess the car. Unsecured debt is the credit cards. Armed with income, tax with holding, history of income tax refunds and such a budget was roughed out for each family. At this point, decisions on the order of importance of the debts would be hashed out and decided. The key to a proper work out is to start the communication process with creditors immediately and include them in your plan to rebuild your credit.
The counselor went over their situation and a plan was developed and agreed to. For now, the McDonalds needed to focus on paying 100% of the secured debt. So the house and car payments (for now) would be paid on time and as agreed. The unsecured debt, such as all the credit cards, would need to be worked out with a reduced payment plan. The counselor shared that this would not be the first time that anyone had contacted them with a work out plan. In no case, should any work out plan with a credit card company be worked out that cannot be maintained. If nothing else, go for severely reduced payment plan or share that the alternative would be nothing. That has consequences, however.
There are really only three things that can be done in this situation. Increase income, reduce expenses, or do both. In this case, Steve got a part time job. Unnecessary expenses were eliminated. Both cars were upside down, meaning they owed more than they were worth. Nine months of over payments got the car loan below book value and they were sold. Two good used ones were bought. Deals on every credit card were worked out at lower payments. Every card except one was cut up. Club memberships were terminated-no contracts. Golf was in the park shagging balls and the kids kept the soccer and little league play going. In 18 months the McDonalds had cash flow help through credit repair.
About the Author: Dale Rogers is a thirty-year mortgage veteran and frequent contributor to the Broken Credit Blog The BCB is a free website created to assist the general public with information about credit repair and responsible mortgage lending.