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Monday, June 24, 2024   

Prisoner in Paradise Seeks Lifeboat
by Scott Bilker
Scott Bilker is the author of the best-selling books, Talk Your Way Out of Credit Card Debt, Credit Card and Debt Management, and How to be more Credit Card and Debt Smart. He's also the founder of DebtSmart.com. More about and DebtSmart can be found in the online media kit.
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Scott Bilker

Aloha Scott!

Been living here in already expensive Hawaii for 30 years and FINALLY stagnant local economy surges (low interest/ real estate boom/, sending cost of living from outer stratosphere to the moon!! :(

I have about $20,000 spread over five cards (in three years time) in non-frivolous, "survival" debt racked up from rough times lately and inconsistent work, yada, yada, yada. I've been making minimum, never late payments and the occasional "transfer dance" to take advantage of lower interest rate offers. But man! Am I tired of the Dance!!

Of course the end is nowhere in sight with this strategy, even with not using these cards for many months. I'd like to know if any of your material deals with debt "termination", that is, dealing with the "Fat Cats" with an approach of like: "Hey Dudes...What's my final payment amount?!" (Well, maybe I'll have to address them not in my regional dialect!) I want to negotiate a rock bottom payoff to each "Card Dude" (sorry...think I've been here waaay too long!) and am working with my bruddah (er, brother), on a possible home equity loan he is getting.

He has been down my road before, with the "Big Debt Bomb" and might help by loaning me payoff money at around 5% interest (to him, which will go towards his loan) Yes, he is THE SAINT!!! Again, does your book go into detail about this scenario? Please help, this monkey on my back is gettin' too heavy!! Mahalo Amigo!!

Aloha Roland,

Mahalo for writing!

Great to hear from someone in HI! We visited family on Oahu and the Big Island in November. It was our first trip, beautiful place! Paradise is the best description. Now we have to order from Big Island Candies online. :(

Your approach to using what you called, the "transfer dance" is good. I've been there, done that, and survived. Better to dance than be late. If you're late it will shoot your interest rates to the moon.

And you are correct, there is no end with this strategy. You could quite possibly have to dance for eternity. Even with low transfer rates, you'll need more money to pay off debt. I know many people that have successfully started part-time businesses selling online at eBay.com. Have you ever thought about that? You may do quite well! There are many articles about online selling and other ways to earn income posted at DebtSmart.com. Click here for a list.

You're also right about negotiating a payoff with each card-dude. In my latest book, "Talk Your Way Out of Credit Card Debt" I devoted one chapter to negotiating settlements. That's where you call your bank and tell them, in a nutshell, "Here's the deal, either you cut the total debt in half or I'm claiming bankruptcy."

There are some setbacks with that option that you need to beware: (1) They won't deal with you until you've been late for a while because, why should they cut the debt when you're paying on time. And being late on purpose will certainly hurt your credit scores and raise your rates; (2) The best they would probably settle for is 50% of your balance but only if you make one payment. So it's cough-up $10,000 or no deal. This may work out if you can get that loan from your bruddah. Something else to be aware of: Borrowing money from family and friends can cause problems. Just take a look at Survey Results: Lending To Friends. However, it can also be a very good deal for everyone involved.

Lastly, you may want to consider bankruptcy if there is no situation that will allow you to resolve the debt. Speak with a local bankruptcy attorney to find out your options.

Hope that helps!

Please keep in touch and let me know what happens!

PS: Good luck with Jasmine on American Idol--we're all rooting for her!



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