Hi Sunshine -- Welcome to the forums!!
No one here will beat you down -- most of us have been in your shoes at some point -- many are still in your shoes. There's no judgment, just advice & support.
I'm glad to see you've already got a few secured cards to work with -- that's great (and congrats on your approvals!!). Just treat them well, only report small balances, and your scores will slowly improve based on that positive activity. Speaking of scores -- have you obtained your FICO scores yet? If not, do that. I would also suggest monitoring your reports throughout your rebuild because there will be a lot going on and you'll want to keep track of your progress (and setbacks). You don't need any more credit right now -- let those accounts age, build a good payment history while you work on your negatives for at least the next 12 months.
Those charge-offs. Unpaid chargeoffs are the worse becuase they still show a balance and are considered a maxed out account according to FICO because the account is closed. So, you'll need to get those paid (you can try negotiating a settlement amount too) and updated to a $0 balance as quickly as possible. BBT probably won't remove the negative tradeline after payment (but you can certainly ask) -- the utility co. might though - I would send them a letter asking for a PFD (Pay for Delete). Offer to pay the account in full in exchange for deletion from your reports. If they agree -- great. If not, then go ahead and pay / settle the balance; once the account updates to paid / $0 balance, begin a Goodwill campaign (you can search the forums for more info on Goodwills) -- you can try a goodwill for both charge-off accounts but I feel like BBT may not bite at all (but worth trying).
I don't have any personal experience with any of the collection agencies you've mentioned -- but others in the forum may have so someone could come along and provide some CA-specific insight. But, since they are updating each month, they are dinging your scores each month - you're going to have to pay them. Write PFD letters to each one. Offer to pay in full or settle for a lesser amount (maybe 60%) in exchange for deletion. If they say no, then pay. After payment, request a Goodwill deletion. Goodwills are letters in which you request (beg for) deletion as an act of good faith; you had some financial troubles, you're getting back on your feet... blah, blah... - they often work well with CAs because once they get paid, they don't really care too much about reporting. Get any agreement you make in writing - even if the terms are made by phone, ask them to send you something in writing.
Search the 'Rebuilding your Credit' forum for PRA -- i've seen posts about them - you may be able to get a feel for how they operate -- same for Credit Management. I've never heard of Conserve but since this is a tuition collection, you may have luck getting it removed after payment.
Also -- someone may advise that you send Debt Validation (DV) letters to the CAs. You can try this -- if they cannot verify the debt, they have to remove it. Problem with this is that it doesn't absolve the debt - so it can come back to haunt you at any time. But you can do some research on them and see if this is a route you'd like to take. You can try the DV, if they validate, then pay. If they don't / can't validate, demand removal from your reports -- but if you know the debt is valid then you should still try to pay it in the near future so it doesn't come back later.
Most importantly, have patience and ask questions whenever you are unsure of something. Good luck!
Tending my Garden til 2/2021
Oh -- I didn't even notice your siggy. Your scores are not that bad... In fact, I think you'll get fairly close to your goal scores once you pay off the chargeoffs (the current maxed out utilization from each charge-off is killer).
You really don't need to concern yourself with AZEO right now -- you're rebuilding - your priority is establishing an excellent payment history. Show that you can use and pay responsibly. AZEO is really only necessary to do prior to apping for new credit because it squeezes out every possible FICO point available for your profile -- but it's also a bit of extra work to maintain and it prevents you from utilizating your credit to your benefit. With AZEO - you pay everything immediately before the statement cuts each month - so you never get to take advantage of your 25 day grace period between the statement closing date and the payment due date. It's up to you if you want to do AZEO -- maybe try it for a month or so just to get the hang of it and see what it does for your scores, but it really is not necessary to do on a consistent basis.
But yes, keeping balances low is important. You want to keep your overall uilization below 8.9% (total balances / total credit limit) and your individual uiltization below 28.9% (single card balance / respective credit limit). You can use your cards as you wish - but, due to your low limits, in order to control your uilization you may need to make a payment before your statement closes. Whatever balance is on your statement is what will report to the credit bureaus. For example - if you have a card with a $500 limit and a statement closing date of the 12th, you want to make sure your balance on the 12th is no more than 28.9% of the limit (so less than $144.50; or you go really low and do 8.9% and keep it below $44.50). This will ensure your statement prints with a low balance - and that low balance is what gets reported. Making multiple / weekly payments throughout the month is only necessary if you are using the card a lot and need to increase your available credit. Otherwise, you can just make a payment to bring your util down before the statement cuts, and another payment for your remaining balance on the due date. Whether you use your cards a lot or just for small monthly subscriptions is your decision -- both will work for FICO -- what matters is what works for you and your pockets .
Tending my Garden til 2/2021
You're very welcome!!
Staying active on the forums will help keep you going. You'll have some ups and downs (hopefully mostly ups) so the support & encouragement makes it a little easier... Also, we love updates, so don't make us wait a whole 6 months!!
Tending my Garden til 2/2021
Your in the right place.You actually have have a great variety of between your cc's and auto loan,so that's a plus.You should always pay all of your debts especially ontime.Try to keep your oldest account open.As long as any serious derogatories such as charge offs and collection on our cr they will continue to hold down your Fico score.It's not the end of the world and if you stay focused on improving your score in time it will. GOOD LUCK..
What helped me immensely is making a written budget & sticking to it. Before making a budget, I was always winding up with more month than money, robbing Peter to pay Paul, & never a steady cash flow. Once I wrote down ALL my expenses & what I was spending my paycheck on I was able to get a grip on my finances & start attacking my debt.
I took all my monthly obligations, such as rent, utilities, car payment, phone, insurance, etc and allocated half of each amount every paycheck (every two weeks). By doing this I knew how much I actually had left over in cash flow to last me till next paycheck. This also steadied out my cash flow so I knew how much I was going to have every pay period. I found this method much easier than having a lot of cash flow one paycheck, then being broke the following when I had to pay everything.
Another benefit of having a written budget is that you can visually track your progress. This motivates you to continue when you can actually see your debt vanishing.
If you would like a copy of my budget template, send me a PM with your email address & I will send it to you. GL!