About that debt…

Sep 9, 2015 | Debt, Stuff you may not know

I wrote recently about how everyone has debt of some kind – here’s a real-life example on how that goes:

I tell clients they can give debt collectors my name and number -that usually stops the calls but every once in a while someone pushes the envelop. This particular collector called me claiming my client owed money.  Now.  I informed him my client could not pay, and besides, we believed the debt was too old to collect.

He replied, “You know, debt never really goes away.”  The guy was going way off script with that comment, since debt does indeed have a statute of limitation, so I thought I’d have a little fun with him.  I said, “You mean spiritually?”  That shut him up.

So yeah, everyone has some kind of debt, whether it’s financial or spiritual.  But WE ALL have it.  So why do we Americans walk around with our heads hung low as if it’s something to be ashamed of?

I used to use the logo “Got Debt?” (picture the Got Milk? ad campaign and you’re on track).  I had it on my office signs, on my business cards, and even had a batch of t-shirts made one year.  When I would take out my cards to give to someone they would look at the black and white design and laugh.  I loved that- I loved that I took something that everyone perceives as negative and was able to turn it around into a laugh.

We all need to talk about money.  It’s important. For example, in an earlier post I talk about the guy who was enraged when his credit card company lowered his total available credit and he felt as if he was robbed.  My response to him– that he had agreed to that– didn’t help.  But had he been better about talking about money with people, it a) would not have been a big shock to him when his limit was lowered and b) he would have had a different response other than to feel robbed.  He might have also been reminded of who writes the fine print when it comes to most debt and credit issues. Then he might have reflected on the fact he wasn’t going to owe that money.

Don’t want to talk to those closest to you about money? Then start by talking to strangers about money.  My clients are always afraid that someone they know will find out about their financial situation.  I tell them they are in good company, that everyone around them is struggling.  I tell them to talk to the person in line behind them in the grocery store, to the person in line in front of them at the dry cleaners, talk to the clerks – everyone is struggling.

Lots of people don’t want to file for bankruptcy or make a strategic decision to stop paying their credit cards or other debts because they think their neighbors will find out.  I test them by asking, “When did your next door neighbor file for bankruptcy?”  They always answer, “Well, we don’t know.”  And my response:  “See!  No one will know.  Your don’t wear your debt issues on your sleeve.”

That of course goes against the message I’m trying to get across– that we should be more open about our finances with each other.   That we should discuss money more: money policy, credit card account terms and conditions, mortgage payments, taxes, saving for retirement, saving for a rainy day.  Maybe then we will all laugh a little when we talk about debt.  That’s the place I want to live.

 

Sign up for my free series Your Money CONNection to get access to interviews about financial topics important to Connecticut consumers:

Latest in Articles

I’ll talk to anyone who is currently behind on their mortgage, thinks they may not be able to afford their mortgage in the coming months, or is already in foreclosure. The earlier we talk, the more options you have.

… Sarah Poriss.

Sarah Poriss, Attorney at Law, LLC is the largest woman-owned foreclosure defense law firm in Connecticut, providing homeowners with quality legal counsel in foreclosure mediation and foreclosure defense.

Working at Consumer Law Group in Rocky Hill, Connecticut for four years, Sarah specialized in representing consumers facing financial crises like debt collection harassment and identity theft. Upon opening her own office, she expanded her focus to defending consumers sued by credit card companies and representing homeowners in foreclosure.

Sarah has elevated her practice by exclusively representing clients with money issues. She played a crucial role in drafting foreclosure mediation rules as a member of Connecticut’s Bench-Bar Foreclosure Committee for seven years.

Additionally, she contributed to the Bench-Bar Small Claims Committee to enhance clarity in small claims proceedings and ensure debt collectors provide substantial evidence to win cases.

Ever wanted to pick a lawyer's brain without the complexities of hourly rates and retainers?

This is why we offer you a simple and affordable solution: A One Hour Session for $300. 

During your one-hour session, we will identify crucial adjustments in your financial strategy that can be implemented immediately!

Objective:

We will address your immediate concerns and devise a strategy to enhance your financial well-being.

Preparation:

Fill out "What Money Matters To Me". This confidential questionnaire a tool is used, maximizing our time together.

Discussion:

We explore your financial concerns, identify areas for improvement, and craft your customized roadmap.

Follow-Up:

You leave with actionable steps, resources tailored to you, and the confidence to navigate improved financial health.