At the beginning of the month, I posted about my experience with bad credit. I expected mixed results but the response was overwhelmingly favorable, and many of you thanked me for my transparency.
Truth be told, I didn’t share everything. Let’s face it: finances are a really private matter. I mean, it’s not like any of us are going to put our bank books on public display, right?
And why would you? Your life dynamics are just as personal as your wallet. Are you hearing me?
Every situation is different.
So why do the credit companies treat us all the same?
The reasons for my bad credit aren’t the same as yours or your mailman’s brother’s cousin’s dog’s groomer. That’s okay. Neither are the solutions.
Let’s recap, shall we?
- I am not a credit expert. I am not, have never been, and have no plans to be: A professional debt collector, credit counselor, financial adviser, or life coach.
- I have experienced unemployment, car accidents, medical bills, single parenting, and poverty.
- I did not crawl into a corner and stay there. Okay. Yes. I did crawl in. It was ugly. But I didn’t ~ repeat, I did not ~ stay there.
I am slowly and surely finding my way out of my debt and bad credit situation, and as vulnerable as that makes me feel, I’m here to share [parts of] my story with you.
Today’s theme is Communicate.
That’s it. Use your words, people! But here’s the thing: Are you putting emphasis on the right word? If I say, “Use your words, people!” what do you hear? Me telling you just to talk. But if I say, “Use your words, people!” it changes, doesn’t it? Now it’s about you and your words. About expressing your situation.
This gem of advice was given to me a few years ago but it wasn’t until this year that I realized the power behind it. And it happened by mistake. Or grand design. I’m not sure which.
One particular evening I was ignoring the many Caller Unknown phone calls. In a moment of silence, I reached to make a call of my own, but as things happen, I picked up a call just as it came in. You know the feeling. Do you hang up? Stay quiet so they hang up? What? What? WHAT??
conscientious authentic tired person that I was, I took the call. It was one of my credit card companies. I know. I’m late. Again. Still. My favorite part (not!) is when they ask, “What is the reason for the delinquency?” I really want to rant. Rave. Rebel. Instead, on this call, I politely said, “You know, you asked me that last month and the answer hasn’t changed. I simply don’t make enough money any more.”
So you know what they did?
They laughed. They turned me over to a debt collector. They offered to work with me on an income-based payment plan.
Tired Girl say what??
We took a few minutes to review some information. How much do I make? How big is my family? And then, those magic words: We can work with you.
I was so excited, I answered the next call. And the next. Soon, I had arrangements made for several bills. You know what? The phone stopped ringing as much. The nasty-grams slowed down. And the bills are getting paid.
No, it’s not easy. And it’s not simple. I have to make sure I’m on top of my budget and there are times when I can’t make even the minimal payment so I get to swallow my pride, pick up the phone, and ask for more help. But I do it, because it’s worth it.
I don’t want to default or file bankruptcy. I want to pay my own debts. And when I own up to my financial mess, when I let others know the what’s and why’s and how’s of my situation, they’re more willing to work with me.
These posts started the day after I took another call to try to reduce a bill. In my mind, I had created a monster of debt, and I was ashamed and certain that I should just do a George Bailey and jump off the nearest bridge. Instead, I talked to the woman on the other end of the phone.
In the end, I was in tears.
I explained my situation, again. But this was a new company. This debt was transferred to a new collections department. How humiliating.
Except it wasn’t. Because she spoke to me like I was human, an individual. Not like a number or statistic or deadbeat. She valued me.
And then she said something I’ll not forget.
“You don’t know me, and I don’t know you. But I’ve been in your situation. I have. And I’m going to tell you, hang in there. Okay? It gets better. It does. I promise you. It gets better.”
And that’s why I cried. Because I allowed myself the vulnerability of showing my human-ness to a stranger, and she gave it back to me.
There was no condemnation, no threats, no hardlining. Just a person, talking to a person, working things out.
So I’m here to tell you
It gets better. It does. I promise you. It gets better.
Here’s a few simple tips to help you recover your finances:
- Answer the phone.
- Talk to people.
- Be honest about your situation, what you can (and can’t) afford.
- Don’t make promises you can’t keep.
- Try. Try again.
- If the person isn’t willing to work with you, talk to a supervisor. It won’t always help, but most of the time, it will.
- Follow up. If you make a promise to pay, pay. If you say you’ll call back, call back. They like it when you’re truthful.
What else can I tell you? You have value. I believe in you. And you know what?
It gets better. It does. I promise you. It gets better.
TWEET THIS: Overcoming Bad Credit: Communication is Key. @RealMojo68 #badcredit #credit #debt #communication
TWEET THIS: Overcoming Bad Credit: Every situation is different. @RealMojo68 #badcredit #credit #debt #overcoming
TWEET THIS: Overcoming Bad Credit: Use your words, people! @RealMojo68 #badcredit #credit #debt #overcoming
And Frankly, My Dear . . . that’s all she wrote!
I had the same realization recently. I was scared to answer the phone. I didn’t know what to do or how they would react. I decided enough was enough and did some research. I have found they will work with you to make it manageable. It is a load off my shoulders. I feel better about paying my debt down. You are right, everyone debt story is different.
Kelley, I am so thankful for your comments. Thank you for reaching back, and I do hope it helps you and others to know you’re not alone.
I love that you write “conversationally.” It’s just so easy to read and informative. Keep it up, MoJo!
Thank you, Wendy. I’m thankful you’re reading the FMD Blog.
Wise words, Molly Jo… thanks for being open about it.
William Kendall recently posted..The Corridors
Thank you, William. It’s a joy to see that others are benefiting from these posts.