Reader’s Question: How To Find A Payment Plan Without Cutting Out Necessities

by Hank Coleman

How To Find A Payment Plan Without Cutting Out NecessitiesHere is the next installment in our the Reader’s Questions Series which highlight questions emailed to me by you, the readers of Money Q&A. Be sure to find out at the end of this article how you can receive a free copy of Dave Ramsey’s book, The Total Money Makeover if your money question is chosen to be featured on an upcoing week’s blog post.

If you’re not familiar with Dave Ramsey’s book, you should run right out and get it. It is one of my top ten best personal finance books that everyone should read. 

This article originally appeared on the blog, Get Out Of Debt and is reprinted with permission.

“Dear Steve,

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I am a caregiver to my quadriplegic husband since 2006. The credit cards are at their limit, I didn’t help any by going overboard at Christmas. Also, if something is or says medical it is expensive, and Medicaid and Medicare only cover so much.

So, I spend a lot on things for his care and put it on the credit cards. Also, his transportation is expensive, we don’t have a van for him. Our tax lady does try to get us good refunds for things but it depends on amount all year.

How can I figure out a payment plan for the bills without cutting out necessities? One plan said to cut these, it is really getting hard to figure out. I have put the credit cards up and am trying to stay away from the sites I was buying things from.

I just try to find something to keep us sane. It is hard for people to understand. He has SSI and a small pension, I get paid by the state to care for him but it does not pay really great, but it helps.

So, how can I figure this out without cutting out necessities?

Linda”

The Answer

Dear Linda,

Well, we have a number of issues going on here. Let me try to tackle them one-by-one.

Tax Refund

I’m a bit concerned that you are getting some “good tax refunds.” What that tells me is you are paying too much in tax each month and could make better use of that money on a monthly basis than waiting till once a year to get it.

I’d contact your tax lady and talk to her about getting your withholdings adjusted so you can break-even each year instead of getting the big refund.

Additional Benefits

There may be some additional benefits you qualify for to assist you with his care. I’d start at Benefits.gov to explore all that is available. You may also want to spend some time on Disability.gov to find out more about free or low cost transportation alternatives.

Your Debt

At this point it is probably an unreasonable expect ion for you to be able to afford to repay your debt. That would require you to meet your minimum payments and also pay more on top of that to dig out of this hole. And since you were using the credit to help make ends meet, that’s most likely impossible.

I would suggest you start the journey to deal with the debt by reading How to Get Out of Debt. The Honest and Unvarnished Truth.

Your Spending

You mentioned something very important. You said, “trying to stay away from the sites I was buying things from.” To me, that sounds like you may have been using shopping as a stress reliever or way to escape. I’m not criticizing you for that. It is what it is.

Moving forward it’s not going to be possible to keep up those activities. Rather than simply doing without, why don’t we focus on building better spending awareness so you can handle money consciously, rather than trying to medicate yourself with spending. 

Bottom Line

We can deal with the past debt with bankruptcy to clean the slate, and that’s an obvious approach. You can find a local bankruptcy attorney and talk to them for free.

But more importantly what we need to do is get your current life to fit within your current income without the debt.

Past Readers’ Questions:

Do you have a money question that you would like to ask? Email me your money, investing, retirement, savings, or other question to Questions[at]MoneyQandA.com.

If I pick your question for the next article in the series, I’ll send you a free copy of Dave Ramsey’s book, The Total Money Makeover, or you can pick from any of these other free books instead.

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About Hank Coleman

Hank Coleman is the founder of Money Q&A, an Iraq combat veteran, a Dr. Pepper addict, and a self-proclaimed investing junkie. He has written extensively for many nationally known financial websites and publications. Hank holds a Master’s Degree in Finance and a graduate certificate in personal financial planning. Email him directly at Hank[at]MoneyQandA.com.


Hank Coleman has written 591 articles on Money Q&A. Learn more about Money Q&A on Twitter @MoneyQandA and @HankColeman.


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