This is true. When I sold the guitar to pay off that bill, I got the USPS notice today they got the letter. I know they’ll take some days to actually record it and deposit it, but *I* feel better having done that.

I wrote yesterday asking for input on a letter I wrote to JUNIPER, my next “Victim”, but received no replies yet. My neighbour who is in business, said the letter was well written, and said it looked good to her.

It is being mailed tomorrow if I hear no input on it, I have only to feel it is in fact OK.

ALL I WANT IS FOR THEM TO LOWER THAT DANG INTEREST RATE. One would think I was asking for the world.

Oh, well, I do feel better getting 2 cards (MBNA and a smaller TARGET balance) shot down this month. It will be very tight, but it’ll be DONE :-)

The thing about Dave’s book total money make over (and the workbook which is a waste of money if you have the book) is he spends the first half of the book explaining the evils of debt. I kind of felt beat up after reading that far. Everything he says in his book is sound and if you follow his principles then you will do better financially.

But I do prefer Mary Hunt’s book Debt-Proof Living. It is the same principles but a more positive tone over all in the book. She has a great chapter on credit reports and scores and how to fix them with some references you will go back to year after year.

Generally if you need to be convinced to live debt free Dave’s book is a good but if you understand and accept that it is a problem then I like Mary’s book better. Mary makes a pretty compelling case for debt free living also but does not take half the book to make that case. Mary’s web site has some links to free web sites with excel spreadsheets for snowball payments. You can also use the same spreadsheets to calculate savings by starting with 0 and seeing how it builds up.

I would not use any of the paid services available on the site any more then I would buy a book without borrowing it from the library first. I did buy a used copy of Mary’s book after all so that I could use it as a reference for the credit stuff.

Ok, I checked out a couple of counselors that I found using Dave Ramsey’s website. We are looking at 300 dollars for 2 hrs consultation….Has anyone done this??
I have the book, but they stated they can help… I hate to waste 300 dollars…

It seems to me that you really don’t have $300 extra dollars to pay anyone for only 2 hours worth of “consultation” In my opinion thats highway robbery for something you could get more answers on and do more research on yourself anyway. After the 2 hours and $300 later, you will still be left with as many years as it takes to get out of debt and it will take YOUR effort to do it – not a counselor. Then as a warning, the first two hours will magically turn into having to purchase another hour… and so on and so on… (that could happen) I think your $300 is better off being put toward the debt as a step in the best direction.

What do you think? I would have never opted to pay anyone for get out debt advice and paying for a plan I could find myself. The only thing I did was buy a few books (some new, some used) I also suggest joining a group that gives advice about living a frugal lifestyle. Being “frugal” to the extremes is something I had to do for only a temporary amount of time. I learned a heck of a lot from it. Now we only live sem-frugally, but my hubby and I still save a lot of money on everything we do and we live far below our means – yet we enjoy our lives far more than most people we know, who overspend on everything in site.

Again – all of the above is really just my opinion and what it took for me to get out of debt.

I just wanted to thank the list for introducing me to the Dave Ramsey Show. I started listening to him over a month ago and the guy really has changed my view of money, how to approach debt, and more importantly how to get out. Even where there was little hope. I agree with the past posters that if you have not done so, you need to at least check him out. You can listen to him online at:

I downloaded his archive of past shows and listen to them everyday at work. If I can stay on his program for at least 6 weeks, I have a chance of actually sticking to my plan as it will become habit. Listening to his show on my computer while at work everyday for 3 hours has kept me highly motivated. The guy is no-nonsense, and will definately tell you how to deal with creditors without turning to consumer credit counseling or credit resolution companies, or bankruptcy.

His book Total Money Makeover is a book form of his show, and is very valuable. I found that listening to him though kept me more motivated as you get to hear others call in and tell of their problems and struggles, as well as their successes… It constantly reenforces the practices of the book. It feels good to know that the majority of people are in the same boat, and some are actually getting out. Since listening, I have paid off over 3000 in one month. I have over 76,000 in consumer (non-mortgage debt)… ie (credit cards, student loads, personal loc, etc) His emergency (murphy law) fund of $1000.00 (Baby Step 1) was also key. I just used it to repair my washer, when I would have normally turned to a credit card…. Fortunately I make a good income so I will be debt free in 3 years.

Dave’s program is hard work, it takes changes in behavior, and will take time. There is no get rich quick methods here… You’ll learn to do finances like your grandparents did…. We all know that if we use common sense like Grandma we would’nt be in this situation. And Dave will smack you around a bit and keep you on track.

So I want to thank the group for previously suggesting him… He has change my life!

Has anyone tried his program? I dont really want to do Bankruptcy.

Hello, I have read the entire Total Money Make-Over book by Mr. Ramsey after I was completely out of debt. Yes, it is a great book and I’m endorsing him even more on this group – (good for him) Now here is the catch… Dave Ramsey’s program only works if YOU want it to work. PERIOD. Before he was even popular or the verge of becoming popular I was doing much of what he has written about. I can say the same about all other “get out of debt” self help guides.

Each one as good as they individually may be… will only work for YOU, if YOU are willing to actually do the work. The main thing I know for sure is that breaking free of unneccesary debt takes personal committment, dedication and all out self discipline. It doesnt happen overnight and there is NO easy fix. But each day you get closer to paying off those debts, you will feel better and it does become easier. Like training for a marathon. If you start out with no training, but you practice each day – at first it will painful and very difficult, but by the time the marathon event day comes – you are a lean, mean marathon machine! A self made champion for making to it the event!

ok – I need more opinions as I am sitting on the fence. I have a job opprotunity and want to know the financially right thing to do. PROS of new job: 100% health and life, 401k with their contribution, in the area we would like to move back to, cost of living less than where we are currently, more advanced and growing, stable company, more possibility of andvancement or raises

CONS of new job: having to find new housing with 4 dogs, expense of moving, salary is $9,000 less than now – not counting the above benefits. We also have just signed a 2 yr lease before this opportunity came up so not sure if can get out easily. Current job: no chance in near future for raise – highest I can go, still stuck in the “pencil pushing” world, 20 mile drive in Atlanta traffic one way, They contribute $200 toward health. That is the only benefit offered. I took the job (a loss of $3,000 annualy and good benefits) when I was laid off my dream job in October) I needed a paycheck.

We are already in the lower Fico scores due to my layoff making us lower but have started taking measures like getting better rates on utilities, changing phone service around. Therefore in case I need cash very fast I will only be eligible for no teletrack payday loans from companies like WithNoTeletrack. We will prbably voluntarily turn in the camper ( usine to stay in when go home to visit) and leased truck soon as hubby lost his job so down a paycheck. We had one collection that was recently paid off (got tired trying to fight them on it to prove it was ours) and another I have been paying some on every month.

SOOOOO I know the benfits are a BIG thing and with turning in the leased truck and the camper on a budget worksheet looks like we could do it. What is everyones thoughts?

You said nothing of the personal cost – the stress level! It isn’t always about the money – the newer job sounds like it would also take a boatload of stress off you – better commute, more chance of moving up in the company, a place you want to live in, etc. Good luck to you – and I would also suggest – keep researching in the meantime, and keep writing about it (like you just did) – and your answer will become clear to you. No snap decisions!

a) Ask about the lease before you throw in the towel. Are they human? Can they sub-let?

b) Check out the new area and see if it isn’t so hard to find a place you like for the puppies and you.

The 401K and the benefits are a big thing…..

The only real thing I would look at is downsizing. Is the company you’re currently working for due for a dowsize? Job opportunity – are they just a start up company? When’s the last time they downsized? Sometimes job jumping is better than getting laid off for being at a company too long. Follow your gut feeling.

The health benefits and retirement plan look like the winner here. You can always move. If this company is hiring in bad exconomic times , imagine how well they may do in good times.

Where does one get cash to put in envelopes? When I get cash and checks I put them in the bank to pay bills online.

My pay is direct deposited and I go to the bank and write a check for cash for my envelopes. I use the envelopes for food, gas, clothing & laundry, and DH’s business has its own envelope system. Using the envelope system keeps you from overspending in the areas that you use the envelopes for – if you actually use it as you should. :)

I use electronic “envelopes” because I also pay everything online.

Then, on my shopping day, I go to my first store, run my debit card, and ask for cash back equivalent to the rest of my grocery / gas money.

Everything else goes with debit card, and MVelopes helps to keep track.

I don’t feel comfy carrying cash.

Hello. Could someone please direct me to a site or library book that defines the “envelope” system? I want to try it.

Hey, try or just watch the following videos:

We use the envelope system for the expenses for his business (eyeglass repair) and for some of our personal expenses, including savings, food, vehicle expenses, entertainment, and laundry/clothing. It keeps us from over spending in those areas. The stress relief is amazing!

I am interested in the Dave Ramsay method, but can’t afford to pay for it right now. I will go to the library and get the books I think – BUT in the meantime could someone just tell me in a paragraph or so what the envelope system entails? Is it just, for example, it costs me $90 a week for transportation(public)……I would just put that in an envelope each payday, right?Or, you have a budget for $100 a week for food, that goes in the envelope…correct?

My trouble is I am so far behind on all bills. like my rent is $1400, today is the first, and I was $400 shy, so I wrote the landlord a note (its a person, not a corporation)that I would have the rest in two weeks, then I push bills back for the two weeks, and round and round like a hamster in a cage, never getting ahead. I have this intense fear in my heart that he will kick me and my kids out, and I could cry just thinking about letting the kids down that way.

But I have to start somewhere doing something, so I was thinking of the envelope system.

ALso, a few messages back some folks had good advice about expaniding your food money–could I get some of that advice again? I don’t eat red meat, and want to be healthy in terms of eating lots of fruits and vegetables – some people were very helpful, for example eggs and potatoes could be inexpensive and satisfying and not unhealthy. For vegetables, carrots in the stick (not those washed and peeled ones) seem cheap.

I use the envelope system and it works for me. For the spending categories that are the most flexible like food, gas, entertainment, and clothing you get an envelope and mark it with that category name. Then, as money comes in you put money in the envelopes. Some people fill the envelopes weekly or monthly. We use two sets – one set has our business expenses and money goes into them daily from the cash DH’s business brings in.

The other set is our personal expenses and money goes into them every two weeks when I get paid. Let’s say you decide $300 a month is for groceries and you get paid every other week. In that case, you put $150 in the food envelope every time you get paid. Do that with each category/envelope. When the money is gone from a particular envelope, that’s it – no more is spent on that category until you fund the envelope again. If there’s money left in an envelope at the end of the period (right before you’re about to fund it again) you can move that money to savings, keep it in the envelope and just put less in to make the difference, etc.

It might take a little while to get the system working just right for you but if you use it, it DOES work. The key is to not spend money on a category after the envelope for that category is empty. Personally, I think this works best in conjunction with a monthly spend it all on paper before you get it budget. Do you have a budget set up?


Today has been stressful in the world of not having enough money to pay bills land.

When I deposited my paycheck, they had charged me for 5 overdrafts – total $150.00. I “thought” I had money in there -so I bought a pound of coffee at Starbucks, for $8; a hairdryer at Walgreens, on sale for $12.99; some dinner at Trader Joe’s for $18.31; and two ATM withdrawals for $20 each. Total expenditure for the items would have been $80 – cost for me being an idiot tripled that. I think I am posting this as a statement to the world _I WILL STOP GETTING OVERDRAWN. As of today, I am solvent.

Then a collection agency called.I denied being myself (it was at work and I ansewered.) On the Caller ID I saw that it was Provider Recovery. I googled them and found out they are one of the worst collection agencies of all time. To feel better, I wrote a letter requesting that they not call me at work, which I will take to the post office at lunch and mail certifed with return receipt requested. At least that makes me feel like I am doing something.

Then my payday loan is due today, and I can never seem to get out of that hole. I just don’t ever seem to be able to pay back that $300.More money out the door and not to the big black hole I created.

Good news, the debt settlement company said that I didn’t get a judgement; it was only a summons. It stated that a debt arbritration judge had affirmed my debt. So it isn’t as bad as a judgement, yet, and the debt settlement company got right back to me when I called, so that is better .(Thanks Ben G. for being so clear, your email made me contact them, and also the woman who told me to take some action before it got worst, sorry, forgot your name)

I guess I am putting y bad financial habits out there like a public confessions – because although I work two jobs and my son has that illness and the credit card companies gouge us and collection agencies can be abusive – the fault for this situation is mine and I have to start taking control of it.

I think most of us have paid a stupid tax. Or we wouldn’t be in this group. 😉 The key is to recognize where your problems are then begin to remedy them. Do you use the envelope system? It sounds like that might be helpful to you. It’s made an amazing difference in my financial life..and in my marriage!

It is your responsibility to response to the summons not the debt settlement company’s and without seeing the papers I don’t know what the legal value of the arbitrator’s ruling is. In any case you need to ask whomever sent the summons to reopen the case and try and work out an agreement with them.

I want to know if anyone has ideas for me for the next step. I offered to settle with a creditor for 10% on the dollar in writing and I was orally told that they counter-offered at 82%. They also “warned” me that the debt would be going to a collection agency soon. Any suggestions on what to do next?

They can go to collections all they want. It still isn’t going to change the situation if you don’t have the money. That always kills me when your trying to work something out and they still threaten you in some way. Don’t let it get to you. How much do you owe and can you pay it off soon? What about your percentage rate?

I checked my report last year a little earlier than now, and FICO was 688.
I went back today to just get another report and FICO is currently at 698.
All show correct info, 9 paid off and closed, 3 left and a signature closed end loan at my FCU, and nothing delinquent or outstanding.
Does a 10 point raise in a little over a year seem like ‘normal’ progress?
I know when a couple of smaller debts go away, it’ll really shoot up because IIRC they also go by Income and the debts…. am I right in that presumption?

My credit score has fluctuated as much as nearly 50 points in a quarter so a 10 point raise is minimal in my opinion. My score actually went up 5 points last month alone. I dont understand your concern? if its going up who cares? thats a good thing.

Well, I don’t know if a piffling 10 points in a year of knocking my head against a wall wasn’t a tad bit questionable. Especially as YOU get a five point increase in a MONTH…. I thought I would ask is all. Yeah, yeah, it is going UP, but so tiny!

You can do some things to raise your score. I’ve not really done anything to raise mine and as a matter of fact two months prior I had another negative item added. You can do some things to help boost your score rather quickly.. not by much but every little bit helps. If you have credit card debt and the account(s) are open and active pay them down. The farther away from your limit you are the better it will help your score. Also paying more then the minimum amount required monthly. There was a news story I saw locally and I’ll try to find it again but I found their ideas and suggestions very helpful. After trying the above suggestions on both my accounts and my husbands both of our scores improved. I expect a larger increase in mine here this summer when a few items fall off of my report finally. I’m sorry I’m not much help but you should’nt be concerned about it going up.. be more concerned about how you can get it higher faster! 😉

Watch this video:

Isn’t there a rule of thumb that you SHOULD carry a certain percentage balance on your card? Like 20% of credit limit? If you carry cards with zero balances all the time, it hurts your credit score? The way I heard it was that if you have a bunch of zero balance credit cards and apply for a mortgage, you are likely to get turned down because all those cards are “new drapes waiting to happen.”

There are a couple of points here.

First, if you love debt, then yes, carry a small balance. If you prefer to live debt free, close some or all of the paid off debt. Then, when you go to get a mortgage, find a mortgage company that will do real underwriting and not simply run a FICO score. Because, yes, some mortgage companies will look at cc with no balances just as you described. Especially if you are going in with little down and little in the bank.

I am curious about this too. I heard that you need to stay within your debt ratio which is your monthly income (before taxes) multipied by.36. Then your debt needs to be under that range. Gosh even our mortgage isn’t under that range.

I am new to BBQ blog. To make a long story short….I am 60 years old. My husband and I are debt free but self-employed. He “dodged a bullet” this past week (health wise) and we did not have insurance.

I am thinking of going back to work. I have been offered cleric work but that is not what I want to do. I have had retail management experience and have job offers in that area. What sort of insurance, 401K and disability insurance are they likely to offer me? Places like Sears, Kohls, etc. I know of women my age who are going to work for StarBucks for the insurance.

We have not paid much into social security because of self employment and I understand that what I pay in this next 5 years will substancially increase my SS checks when I do decide to retire.

It isn’t something he wants me to do because I do a lot in our business but he is slowing down now and I think/feel he can hire someone to do what I do pat time. Thanks