I am writing this post because I want you to know that we have all been there. I recently had a baby and our insurance did not cover as much as we had hoped. And on top of that my other son has had quite a few medical issues and the bills began pouring in from that one as well. I noticed that I got to the point where I would want to throw up when I saw the envelope in the mailbox. I literally wanted to rip it up and throw it away. I started to get really confsued about what was paid and what wasn’t paid. And what had went through insurance. I tried to match EOB’s to bills but couldn’t. My point is my stress level went through the roof. I knew that these places were going to start calling me and I knew that I need to pay them. I was scared though. It took one call from the hospital billing place asking for a payment and I was ready to make a plan.
I went to my financial counselor friends and asked them what their tips were:
- Let creditors know your circumstances – it really can make a difference.
- Open your mail. (I wish I could shout this one from the rooftops!)
- Respond promptly to a summons or notice of intent to garnish. You may still be able to negotiate a payment arrangement with a creditor. (Call us if you need more information on this one)
- Save record of your creditor contacts: letters, notices, cancelled checks, receipts. (I actually staple a receipt to the bill and write in a big marker when it was paid. Put all of this stuff in a folder or box.)
- Keep a phone log on the dates and time of calls, name of caller, and what was said.
Payment Plan Tips
- Ask creditors if they are willing to waive or reduce interest or fees.
- Ask that special arrangements are put in writing and sent to you.
- If you promise a payment, send it or contact them immediately if can’t make it.
- Understand the pros and cons of accepting an offer to settle a debt for less than the balance owed. Depending on the amount, the unpaid portion may or may not be taxable by the IRS, so epak with a tax advisor.
Lastly, the Federal Trade Commission has a variety of consumer protection topics.
What did I do. First, I opened all of the bills and laid them all out. (Many were duplicates…Woo-Hoo!) Then I split them up between little balances and the ‘biggies. I ended up paying off the smaller balances to get them out of the way. Then I called on the ‘biggie’ and asked to set up a payment plan. The person on the phone was so nice. I told her what I could afford and she made sure that would work. She did stress though that I MUST make the payment every month or the payment plan would be void. Now, I actually look for that bill each month.
I want you to know that you can do this too. To be successful you need a plan and we can help you do this. Give one of our financial counselors a call today at 888.577.2227 or visit us at ConquerYourDebt. Get Started Today!
Author Kate Swenson is a Project Manager at LSS Financial Counseling.