DAVE RAMSEY

Dave says: Old debts will always find a way to come back and haunt you

Apr 23, 2024, 1:00 PM

When old debts come back to haunt you, the best option to take in order to get out of the mess is t...

When old debts come back to haunt you, the best option to take in order to get out of the mess is to pay it off. (Pexels File Photo)

(Pexels File Photo)

Dear Dave,

A few years ago, I had a real problem with credit card debt. Since then, I’ve gotten much better at handling my money, and I’m making about $80,000 a year. Two weeks ago, I received a letter about a credit card I had in 2020. The amount owed is $7,688. The letter doesn’t say I’m being sued, but it says I have to appear before a judge in two months for a pretrial conference. I live in Florida, and I’ve never heard of anything like this. I only have $1,000 in savings.

Damari


Dear Damari,

I’m glad to hear you’re handling your finances better now than you did in the past. But at this point, you’re learning that old debts don’t necessarily die, aren’t you? Ignoring debts isn’t a good plan, because many times they come back to life like a zombie and come looking for you.

I’m not an expert on Florida law, but a pretrial conference in a case like this—over a $7,688 credit card bill—is highly unusual. I’ve been helping people with money problems for 30 years, and I’ve never heard of anything like this. It could be some kind of new tactic the collections attorney is using to try to intimidate you.

If I were in your shoes, I’d call the attorney who’s suing you and try to negotiate a payment plan or settlement. Do you have anything you can sell? Because I’ve got a feeling if you can come up with $3,000 or so and offer it as payment in full, they’ll take it. I don’t mean to be unkind, but these guys figure you’re a deadbeat because you’ve got a 5-year-old debt hanging over your head and haven’t tried to pay it. They’ll take almost anything they can get at this point.

In general, when you go to court over a situation like this, you’re going to lose. You have a legal debt, and you haven’t paid it. It’s that simple. So, if you don’t have anything to sell to make some money that way, you need to get busy working an extra job or two. I’m talking about doing Door Dash or something—in the morning before work or in the evening after work. Kiss those weekends goodbye too. Just go nuts for a few weeks, and make a bunch of extra money fast.

It won’t be easy, and you’re going to be dog-tired for a while. But you can scrape together $3,000–4,000 before June easily if you’ll just put your head down and make it happen. Then, offer it up to the attorney. Demand a written release, with the debt declared settled and paid in full, and chances are, this thing will be off your back!

— Dave

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Dave says: Old debts will always find a way to come back and haunt you