12
Apr

You’ll Never Get Out Of Debt Until Your Heart Knowledge Supports Your Head Knowledge

f10When I designed my coaching website, I needed to create a tag line. A type of a one line description of what the site was all about. I wanted it to summarize how I felt about the process of getting out of debt and why so many people start at it but quickly give up.

Science was my first love as a career. I spent my first ten years of work life in the biotechnology world. So the idea of a math equation flashed into my mind.

There are thousands of websites and probably millions of blog posts and articles about how to get out of debt. “Seven methods to lower your credit card debt”. “Five tips to reduce your holiday spending”. Tons and tons of information out there.

So why do less than half of Americans pay off our credit card balances every month? Why do 35% of us have accounts in collections?

I reflected on my two journeys through debt. The first ended in credit counseling and bankruptcy. The second ended with everything paid off, including our home mortgage. What was the difference?

I “knew” that we had debt both times. In my head.

The difference was acknowledging my debt in my heart; my gut. The first time I did not do this. My “plan” to get out of debt was that my business would finally begin earning real money. My heart said everything would work out. My heart knowledge never supported my head knowledge. And I failed.

“Know Debt” was accomplished but nothing else.

In the second plan I got mad (as did my wife). We plugged into this anger and other emotions. We got our hearts involved. We “KNEW” our debt. 17 months later we had paid off our credit card, auto loan, department store card and orthodontist. And then 30 months later we paid off our home mortgage.

“KNOW Debt” was added to “Know Debt”. They added up to “NO DEBT”.

My math equation tag line crystallized. It explained why we want to get out of debt and have the best intentions to get out of debt. But we rarely get there.

We generally acknowledge that we have debt in our heads. We know we have three credit cards with balances on them. We know we have an auto loan that pays off in 2018. We know we have five student loans. And we might know the total debt that we owe. We have the head knowledge.

So we read posts, articles and forum advice that make logical sense on how to pay off our debts. Eliminate every expense that we can. No cable TV, no going out to a movie, etc. Live a spartan lifestyle.

And work three jobs.

Our heads can do this for 2-3 weeks. Maybe a month or two. But if our hearts do not support this lifestyle and behavior, something is going to cause us to quit this plan. Once the fun of the adventure dies off, the idea of living on dog food and replacing electricity with candles becomes so unappealing that we give up.

Once our hearts are out of the equation, our plans to get out of debt are dead in the water. Because there are no easy, pixie dust plans to get out of debt. It takes focus. It takes work. It may take some sacrifice. But your plan needs to be realistic; a plan that you can live with. Logically it may take longer. But emotionally you will stick with it all the way to the end and get to NO DEBT.

Take what you know in your head and get it into your heart. Then you will get out of debt.

“Know Debt + KNOW Debt = NO DEBT”

3
Apr

What It Means When a Credit Card Is Charged Off

f9You are late on a credit card. Months late. The bank which issued you the credit card is calling you every couple of days and sending you notice after notice in the mail to get you to send in a payment. But you can’t. Maybe you got laid off or lost your job. Or you have lots of other bills and you cannot afford to pay this bill.

After six months of no payments, the credit card issuer has to “clean up its books”. So it performs an accounting function and “charges off” your debt. The assumption is that, after six months of no payments, you are probably not going to pay this debt. So this loan needs to be removed from the bank’s assets. This is a charge off.

Charge off definitely does not mean that your debt has been wiped out, forgiven and no longer exists. To the contrary, it means your financial life is about to get worse.

Once the credit card issuer charges off your debt, it most likely will be transferred to a collection agency. It does not matter if the bank transferred the debt to the collection agency or sold it to the collection agency. In either case the collection agency is now in charge of your debt. Calling the bank to work something out is now a moot point. You no longer exist in the bank’s view!

The debt collector has to work within the law; the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The debt collector is allowed to call you and write you to collect the debt. After all, you still owe it! You can tell the collector to stop calling and stop writing. But that does not mean the collection agency is not working behind the scenes to determine if you have a paycheck or assets to go after. Your charged off debt is always valid to purse until you pay it off.

Your credit report has already taken a hit. Your credit score dropped at 30 days late, 60 days, 90 days and 120 days. Once you reach the 180 day mark and your debt is charged off, the debt becomes reported as “Charged Off.” This notation remains on your credit report for seven years from the first missed payment’s due date.

According to MyFICO.com, approximately 35% of a credit score is based upon payment history. So having a charge off appear on our credit reports has a major impact on our credit score for years and years!

If you do pay off a charged off debt, your credit report will show “Charged Off – Paid”. Obviously this looks better than just showing as charged off. But this still remains on your credit report for seven years from the first delinquency.