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Credit Card Balance Horror Stories!

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Valued Contributor

Credit Card Balance Horror Stories!

I just thought it might be interesting to share some credit card balance horror stories.  I am guessing that most of us at one time or another have used less-then-perfect judgement and ran the balances up too high...  

 

As for me....  My wife and I really screwed up.  We actually got up to a high of about $35,000 in credit card debt across about 5 cards.  I can pretty much say that the credit card companies OWNED us during those years.  It was so stressful having that kind of debt and knowing  that what we were paying each month did not make that much of a dent in the balance.  The intrest on that kind of debt was killing us.  

 

Today... Well, we did have to work out a credit card settlement with one bank, but after that we made a committed effort to live very simple lives, only buy what we had to and apply every dollar we could to the balances on the other four cards.  It took a LOT of work, but by remaining completely focused and pretty much paying cash for everything for two years (which forced us to think twice or more about whether or not we really needed something), we have been able to get all balances to pretty much $0, meaning that we are able to pay off each card when the statement comes.  

 

It feels so good to no longer be owned by the credit card companies.  It was so painful and casued many sleepless nights.  I *PRAY* that we never allow ourselves to get into that kind of a mess again!  For those that may be going through this, it is possible to get out front under.  It does take a lot of focus, and can take a a good period of time (if you are in as bad of shape as we were - it took about two years...), however it is possible.  

 

 

 

 

Year 2012: All Scores in the 520 range, during a foreclosure, CC Settlement and high UTIL. Very ugly days...
Aug 2019: EX8: 850; EQ8: 850; TU8: 850 -- Middle Mortgage Score: 820
In My Wallet: Discover $73.7K; Cap1 Venture $36.7K; Amex ED $38K; Amex Optima $2.5K; Amex Delta Gold $18K; Citi Costco $16.5K; Cap1 Plat $8.4K; Barclay $7K; BoA Plat $21.6K; Citi TY Pref $18K; US Bank $4K; Dell $5K; Care Credit $6.5K. Total Revolving CL: $266K
My UTIL: Less than 1% - Only allow about $10 a month to report, on one account. .
Message 1 of 8
7 REPLIES 7
Regular Contributor

Re: Credit Card Balance Horror Stories!

In 97 I was still in my 20's - I think a the time I had 3 or 4 bank credit cards - CLs $5000 - $11,800.   I had good cards too - Citi - Discover - Credit Union.  I moved across country on the heels of relationship trauma -  and was already in the first stages of a very NASTY gambling problem - but I had no idea.  Gambling was a way to numb my pain.  I went from working F/T in one state to P/T in another while trying to complete graduate school.  I had no family - and no friends - no support.  The casino was a 30 minute drive away.   I was  hurt - and spending most of my time on an Indian reservation cashing my paychecks - and taking out cash advances on my credit cards to cover gambling debt.... and only sometimes to cover living expenses.  It was a pure hell that lasted 17 years - that only another person who has lived this can understand. 

 

When I was 23 - I was making very little money - but proudly was able to pay my  bills.  At 33 - I was trying to ward off bankruptcy.  I CCs, but really did not know what  credit  was about.  I had never seen my CR - had no idea what my credit score was.  All I know is  applied for CCs and was approved.  I used them - and paid on time.  Ten years later - I was overwhelmed - utterly confused - depressed - addicted  and calling CC companies to try to set up payment plans I could not follow through on.
 

I think I finally saw a BK lawyer in like 2000 - sitting there ashamed and really not wanting to do this... he just looked at me smugly and kept trying to convince me that this was the only way to regain some parts of my life.  I walked out of his office -  I did not go back until 3 years later - when I saw no other way.  I HATED EVERYTHING about my life.  There is a small cooperative credit union here with which I had a small personal loan.  One of the blessings in my life I count is how the CEO of the the CU showed up at the court - said that he knew I was having such a hard time - and told me that if I did not include them - they would allow me to pay back my load without interest.  I was so ashamed - and of course agreed.  I did eventually pay them back - with some bumps - but I did pay them back.  In fact, now that I am typing this, I am thinking that I will contact them and offer to pay that interest back.  The CU is run by activist who believe in financially empowering poor people. 

 

It was in 2008 when I got an offer to apply for a Discover Card - I was shocked because I knew my credit was in the toilet -  I applied anyway and was approved for a CL of $2100.  I was SHOCKED  -  and then I learned that it was an HSBC Discover - I had never heard of this - thought it was a scam.  So, I Googled it - and clicked a link that lead me to MyFico.com.  It was then that I learned that I COULD rebuild - and how to do so......  So began the journey.   I still had a lot of bumps for the next 4 years because while I had myself banned from the local casino in late 2006 -  In 2007, I had started gambling online.   Now, I was using my new credit cards to do so, but each year I evolved a bit.  I did put a lot of money on my cards - but this time I actually still paid my bills.  I desparately wanted CCs but having them was so dangerous for me.  In about 2011 I banned myself from my favorite on line gambling site.  I began finally saving and getting back on my feet.  

 

A couple of months ago -  I drove to Canada to gamble for the first time in 2014.  I took one of my cards -  I ended up taking a cash advance for a few hundred dollars on my Freedom.  Trust me - that is some serious progress.  Ten years ago, all of my new credit would have been maxed right now - no exaggeration.   But two months ago -  even taking a $500 cash advance  hurt me to my very core -  and  before I took another dollar out on my new and growing credit history -  I walked into the security office and had myself banned for life from every casino in Ontario.  I came back to NY - and have not thought about gambling since.

 

I am now very careful with my cards -  I get nervous about having so much credit.  But  I also take care of it -  I do not overdo it -  I do not have any balances that I cannot pay right now if I wanted to.   I do not live on my cards - and I realize the blessing that I have in my life... that I am here typing this long response - as opposed to looking haggard and crazy in a casino - further setting down my limited financial resources on a blackjack table.    There were many many times when I thought I would die a very painful death - and wish I would - before I would get to this point.   No more maxed cards for me.  In fact, I only use my cards to get rewards - And the ones that have a balance have them only because I have 0% APR on those accounts.

 

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
― Maya Angelou
Message 2 of 8
Valued Contributor

Re: Credit Card Balance Horror Stories!

Really having the internet and sites like MyFico is what has made the difference for me.  I never knew how all of these decisions affected my crediit. Some were obvious, like paying late. But honestly other mistakes were not, like closing TL's.

 

I had CC while in college and maxed them all out, which was easy to do since they were only around $100-300 in credit limits.  I carried Cap One, Dillards, JCPenneys and of course had late pays.  But when I freaked out because I was getting called for collections...I got the $ and paid them off and CLOSED Them!!!  So not only did I have late pays, but I closed the accounts thinking that would stop me from maxing them out but never knowing that hurt my credit too!

 

I also married a the wrong person (another story) but when we divorced, he let his car payments get behind. He never told me and then the car was repossessd, so you guessed it...I was a co-signer on the loan. I paid it off and I got stuck with it on my CR.  Had I know, I would have probablly tried to GW them to remove the info. Yes, I was a co-signer but I paid them and I was never notificed so they might have worked with me once they got their money.

 

I didn't follow through well with student loans for deferrement or reduction of payments when needed.  

 

I have literally lived paying cash only for the last 5-6 years which has allowed most everything to fall off, almost!  So now that I have information and hindsight of my mistakes and how good credit is very important, I can do a much better job.  I am still learning but thankful to have MyFico to learn and be more responsible with my credit.

CapOne $7500 | Discover $8500 | Amex ED $25K | Barclay SM $5700 | Chase Disney $500 | Chase Slate $5K | Target $3K | Hilton Amex $2K
Gardening Since 4/3/2017
Message 3 of 8
Valued Contributor

Re: Credit Card Balance Horror Stories!

Changingmantra2:

 

Wow....  Thank you so much for sharing what you have been through.  You really have been through a lot.  I am so pleased to hear that things are going MUCH better for you now.  It is hard enough to just to have a lot of debt, so hearing that there was an addiction involved as well, had to have made it millions times harder.  I am so sorry for what you went through, but so pleased that things are better now!  

 

Hang in there!  

 

 

Year 2012: All Scores in the 520 range, during a foreclosure, CC Settlement and high UTIL. Very ugly days...
Aug 2019: EX8: 850; EQ8: 850; TU8: 850 -- Middle Mortgage Score: 820
In My Wallet: Discover $73.7K; Cap1 Venture $36.7K; Amex ED $38K; Amex Optima $2.5K; Amex Delta Gold $18K; Citi Costco $16.5K; Cap1 Plat $8.4K; Barclay $7K; BoA Plat $21.6K; Citi TY Pref $18K; US Bank $4K; Dell $5K; Care Credit $6.5K. Total Revolving CL: $266K
My UTIL: Less than 1% - Only allow about $10 a month to report, on one account. .
Message 4 of 8
Valued Contributor

Re: Credit Card Balance Horror Stories!

BluePoodle:

 

You are so correct.  This is site is a true blessing.  I am sure it has made a difference in a LOT of lives!  I know I have gotten a wealth of information out of it.  I am also thanking for a couple of members who have been really good in providing me with advice through PM.  It is wonderful that so many people are willing to invest time in helping others.  What a great commnity.  

 

What you mentioned about co-signing on a car really struck me.  I am SO lucky in that area....  When I was about 22 or 23 years old, a girl that I was sure I was in love with asked me to co-sign for her on a vehicle.  I went into not realizing how that could impact me just as much as if it were my own car, and quite frankly I went into it thinking with the wrong head.  I got very lucky looking back, as she made every single payment on time for through the entire loan.  I still shake my head at how dangerous and foolish that was, under those circumstances.  

 

I am so pleassed that you are doing much better now and close to have all the bad stuff fall off the reports!

 

 

Year 2012: All Scores in the 520 range, during a foreclosure, CC Settlement and high UTIL. Very ugly days...
Aug 2019: EX8: 850; EQ8: 850; TU8: 850 -- Middle Mortgage Score: 820
In My Wallet: Discover $73.7K; Cap1 Venture $36.7K; Amex ED $38K; Amex Optima $2.5K; Amex Delta Gold $18K; Citi Costco $16.5K; Cap1 Plat $8.4K; Barclay $7K; BoA Plat $21.6K; Citi TY Pref $18K; US Bank $4K; Dell $5K; Care Credit $6.5K. Total Revolving CL: $266K
My UTIL: Less than 1% - Only allow about $10 a month to report, on one account. .
Message 5 of 8
Regular Contributor

Re: Credit Card Balance Horror Stories!


@EW800 wrote:

Changingmantra2:

 

Wow....  Thank you so much for sharing what you have been through.  You really have been through a lot.  I am so pleased to hear that things are going MUCH better for you now.  It is hard enough to just to have a lot of debt, so hearing that there was an addiction involved as well, had to have made it millions times harder.  I am so sorry for what you went through, but so pleased that things are better now!  

 

Hang in there!  

 

 


Thanks EW800 - It goes a long way to teaching you how to value what is really important!  I tell you - I have a grand appreciation of blue skies - and any moment I can genuinely laugh - or just enjoy a movie - a song - or a walk in the woods.  The so-called small things are HUGE -

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
― Maya Angelou
Message 6 of 8
Valued Contributor

Re: Credit Card Balance Horror Stories!


@changingmantra2 wrote:

@EW800 wrote:

Changingmantra2:

 

Wow....  Thank you so much for sharing what you have been through.  You really have been through a lot.  I am so pleased to hear that things are going MUCH better for you now.  It is hard enough to just to have a lot of debt, so hearing that there was an addiction involved as well, had to have made it millions times harder.  I am so sorry for what you went through, but so pleased that things are better now!  

 

Hang in there!  

 

 


Thanks EW800 - It goes a long way to teaching you how to value what is really important!  I tell you - I have a grand appreciation of blue skies - and any moment I can genuinely laugh - or just enjoy a movie - a song - or a walk in the woods.  The so-called small things are HUGE -


Very well said Changingmantra2. It's when one finds that enjoying these small things is not possible - that's when life is really in a big hole.

I do not have a big spending problem, but I still have a problem. I am steadily trying to get out of it and save the situation in 5-6 months. 

Message 7 of 8
Regular Contributor

Re: Credit Card Balance Horror Stories!


@EW800 wrote:

I just thought it might be interesting to share some credit card balance horror stories.  I am guessing that most of us at one time or another have used less-then-perfect judgement and ran the balances up too high...  

 

As for me....  My wife and I really screwed up.  We actually got up to a high of about $35,000 in credit card debt across about 5 cards.  I can pretty much say that the credit card companies OWNED us during those years.  It was so stressful having that kind of debt and knowing  that what we were paying each month did not make that much of a dent in the balance.  The intrest on that kind of debt was killing us.  

 

Today... Well, we did have to work out a credit card settlement with one bank, but after that we made a committed effort to live very simple lives, only buy what we had to and apply every dollar we could to the balances on the other four cards.  It took a LOT of work, but by remaining completely focused and pretty much paying cash for everything for two years (which forced us to think twice or more about whether or not we really needed something), we have been able to get all balances to pretty much $0, meaning that we are able to pay off each card when the statement comes.  

 

It feels so good to no longer be owned by the credit card companies.  It was so painful and casued many sleepless nights.  I *PRAY* that we never allow ourselves to get into that kind of a mess again!  For those that may be going through this, it is possible to get out front under.  It does take a lot of focus, and can take a a good period of time (if you are in as bad of shape as we were - it took about two years...), however it is possible.  

 

 

 

 


Thanks for the post. I'm in a similar situation and it's good to hear a success story

Message 8 of 8
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