So my mother lives independently in low income housing for seniors. She has always done her own finances, and every now and then we have needed to send her money for groceries etc.. over the past few months she has needed our help more and more. Last night she called me in tears asking telling me she couldn't handle her finances anymore, and wants me to be her payee and take care of it for her. She was in tears because she bounced 2 one dollar checks at her bank and this has left her no money for food. She listed off her bills to me and what she owes and I see exactly why she cant make ends meet. She receives a fixed amount of money social security is her only income and it is $694.00 per month and food stamps of 30.00/mo. She has been buying things on credit at places like swiss colony, Ginnys, woman within etc... she also opened a credit card and has maxed it out. Even with the minimum payments made every month (and she always makes sure she does pay them) she cannot survive on whats left over for groceries etc..... her debt totals around 3200.00 by my calculations, not counting an old student loan thats $30.00/month. She can't continue this way........I am trying to figure out what would be in her best interest to do at this point......She doesn't own a car or a home or have a savings account so there is really nothing that a creditor could take from her, as I have read that SS can't be garnished. She does have good credit, because she would pay her bills before she would eat.....Can anyone think of any options out there for me to consider?
I will be going this weekend and paying the bank overdrafts, and buying her groceries....but I don't know what to do long term. these are the options I have thought of:
1) she could obtain a debt consolidation loan, and make one hopefully lower payment every month? but would she even qualify with no coladeral, and low income?
2) A loan from me to get her back on her feet BUT I really only have 1000.00 I could spare to help her right now, without getting into our savings that we never ever touch, and I have a family of 5 to support it makes me weary to do this with the way the economy is.
3) call the companies and try to get them to settle for less
4) call the companies and tell them she can only pay you x amount per month and that is it.
5) Bankruptcy- hate to even think that, I know she wont need to obtain credit probably ever again, but it seems like such a small amount to file over and I know nothing about how it works or what it costs....
6) Pay her basic needs such as rent, food, doctor etc.. and the creditors just get what the get?
Any ideas? I have to figure something out for her asap!
It sounds like she is not good at making decisions on where to spend her money, the swiss colony thing is a little bit of a red flag. I would put her on a budget and make sure she feeds herself, and pays living necessity first.
Call the debtors and tell them she is your mother, (you may need to call with her there so she can tell them it is ok to talk to you). Tell them she is on the 'verge' of bankruptcy and tell them you want to make good on the payments. Agree she won't use the cards at all and see if they will offer something. You'd be surprised that some creditors, when hearing the word BK will work out a pmt plan. If they won't, then her other option is to go to a legit debt mgmt program.
You need to help her to get in the habit of groceries, necessities first... If you went the bk route, you'd pay a lawyer and get her a clean slate - it is a low amt owed but if she isn't going to need credit again (sounds like she shouldn't have it poor thing)... then maybe just do it and get her into a cash only situation. Bouncing checks and living in despair isn't doing her psyche any good, maybe starting with a clean slate and some guidance on allocating that small amt will be the best thing.