AZ asks: Ida Independent Part 5

Ida Independent is a 48 year old stay-at-home Mom of two children who is now going through a divorce.  Ida and her husband had decided early on in their marriage that it was in the best interest of the family if she did not work outside of the home so that you could spend her time concentrating on the children and the family.  As a one income family, with no work experience outside of the home since her marriage, Ida was shocked to learn that their financial status had deteriorated to a level that now would require her to find a paying job as soon as possible. Ida had trusted her husband to protect the family financially, but their lack of communication about money played a major role in the derailment of their marriage.

AZ asks: When you received your Credit Report, could you tell how far in debt you actually were?

No, I really couldn’t tell. It contained so much information including the accounts we had with banks, retailers, credit-card issuers, utility companies and other lenders such as our mortgage, student loans, revolving credit or installment loan. It also had the date we opened the account, our credit limit or the actual loan amount and our payment pattern over the past two years. It seemed like our day-to-day lives where listed on this one report!

To me it looked like all of the credit cards (including some that I wasn’t even aware of) were very high. My guess was that between possibly making just minimum payments plus adding in the rapidly growing interest rates—we owed a lot more money than we could ever handle just on these bills alone.

AZ asks: What did you do then?

I wanted desperately to get my husband to be a part of working this out, but he still wasn’t returning my calls. Eventually I was able to find out that he had been hopping from one friend’s home to another for the past month. I am sure his friends, not to mention their wives, were becoming very uncomfortable with the whole situation and didn’t want to be in the middle of any of it. Apparently, at this point one of his buddies finally told him that he had to grow up, face the music and go home to his family and try to work things out.

AZ asks:  Did he finally come home?

No. Unfortunately, he clearly didn’t want to come home. He obviously couldn’t afford to rent an apartment so the only choice he had was to ask his parents if he could stay with them. They said he could stay with them but only under the condition that he call me and let me know where he was. When I finally heard from him, he said that he didn’t want to talk about any of this right now and said he needed more time to figure things out. He told me he’s wasn’t ready to come home and he was not sure when he would be. He made it pretty clear that he didn’t want to deal with the prospect of coming home to our financial problems.  He also said that he felt he was on the “brink” of being successful again and didn’t want to give up that chance to make things right for all of us. He said that coming home would be the “death” of him and would only signify defeat. I decided right then and there I couldn’t live in his dream world anymore.

I needed to start with a credit counselor to see exactly what this report really meant and where we needed to go from here. I made my call to a counselor that my neighbor had used a few years ago and was able to get an appointment within a few days.

AZ asks: What happens at your session with the Credit Counselor?
The counselor was wonderful and non-judgmental. She reviewed our financial situation and then provided some possible solutions. She said she could help us develop a spending plan that would cover our living expenses and payments to our creditors but she needed to know exactly what our cash flow was.

The Credit Counselor said that unless my husband was receiving calls I didn’t know about, it didn’t look like our accounts had been turned over to any debt collectors as of yet. She said that this was at least a good sign that our creditors hadn’t completely given up on us. The counselor said that by the time accounts were officially turned over to collection agencies, the creditors felt there was absolutely no other alternative way to recoup the money.

The day I returned from my meeting with the counselor, the collection calls began.

To be continued…

Ida Independent is not affiliated with nor endorsed by LPL Financial.

About Ann Zuraw

Ann Zuraw, the voice behind "Chicks, Chat and Change", is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®), Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®), and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA™). If you have comments on this post contact Ann Zuraw