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BK7 discharged. I learned from it. Wife didn't.

Frequent Contributor

BK7 discharged. I learned from it. Wife didn't.

So, as the title says, my wife and I filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy due to overwhelming medical bills after we had triplets.  Income is good, and prior to filing, I had great UTIL, and was at the point where credit wasn't an issue of "will I get approved", but rather "do I want to do this purchase".  It's a great position to be in.  My wife has always been had bad credit.  Charge offs, law suits, just flat out ignoring bills.  I tried briefly to help by adding her to my accounts as AU, but that didn't help much.  She just ignores the phone calls, or answers and just hands the phone to me so I'm getting calls on accounts she had before she even met me  Then came triplets,  and an extended NICU stay that exceeded my insurance company maximum.  

Fast forward to now.  We have been discharged for a few months, and I am on track to get rebuilt quickly.  I've read all the posts about BK to 700, and I'm doing pretty well with following them, with some minor changes.  Nothing major.  I'm now in the high 500's/low 600s across the board.  

I purchased a used car.  My old one was paid for, but had 200k miles and was 17 years old, so it was time.  Rather than jump into a brand new car with a high payment nd rate, I went with a used, low mileage Chevy Impala.  19% interest (yeah, I know) but the payment is $185 for 72 months.  Plan is to pay $200 a month and a lump sum $3,000 payment every February or March until its paid off in about 2 years.  It's an '08, so I figure it'll last longer than that.  Wife's car is paid for.  We kept it after the bankruptcy as wild card and exemptions..  It's an '05 Toyota Sienna.  Average miles, but the thing runs great.  I got a credit card from USAA, where I have a secondary checking account, and I got a Kohls charge.  We shop there fairly often, so it's a worthwhile store card.  Wife got a Capital One platinum with $300 limit unsecured.  That's it for rebuilding right now.  I'm in the garden.  

USAA card is currently near the limit because I use it to pay my bills.  Verizon, car insurance (through USAA) electric, etc.  It gets paid off every month, and before statement, but I'm talking currently.  Kohls card has about $150/$300 on it because we did some back to school shopping.  I'll pay it off when I get the statement.  

Th problem is with my wife.  She has no sense of financing.  She maxed her card out in the first two days of getting it.  "Forgot" to make a payment last month until I checked and made the minimum for her on the due date.  (The first payment due, mind you) and then this month, the payment is due tomorrow, and I checked and she hasn't done it this month, either.  I'm not sure why she bothered applying for a card if she isn't going to be responsible enough to pay it.  I pay all other household expenses, but I feel like she thinks I should pay this one too.  Is it fair for me to help her rebuild to a good credit score without her putting any effort in?  Is it fair for me to let her tank her score again post bk when I could easily just pay the $300 balance?  Anytime I mention this, she gets defensive and tells me I'm treating her like she's stupid, so I try to avoid it.  I just don't know what I should do.  I'm tempted to just let her pay it late and get a 30 day late, but what good will that do?  



Gardening until further notice
Message 1 of 19
18 REPLIES
Valued Contributor

Re: BK7 discharged. I learned from it. Wife didn't.


jason0618 wrote:

So, as the title says, my wife and I filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy due to overwhelming medical bills after we had triplets.  Income is good, and prior to filing, I had great UTIL, and was at the point where credit wasn't an issue of "will I get approved", but rather "do I want to do this purchase".  It's a great position to be in.  My wife has always been had bad credit.  Charge offs, law suits, just flat out ignoring bills.  I tried briefly to help by adding her to my accounts as AU, but that didn't help much.  She just ignores the phone calls, or answers and just hands the phone to me so I'm getting calls on accounts she had before she even met me  Then came triplets,  and an extended NICU stay that exceeded my insurance company maximum.  

Fast forward to now.  We have been discharged for a few months, and I am on track to get rebuilt quickly.  I've read all the posts about BK to 700, and I'm doing pretty well with following them, with some minor changes.  Nothing major.  I'm now in the high 500's/low 600s across the board.  

I purchased a used car.  My old one was paid for, but had 200k miles and was 17 years old, so it was time.  Rather than jump into a brand new car with a high payment nd rate, I went with a used, low mileage Chevy Impala.  19% interest (yeah, I know) but the payment is $185 for 72 months.  Plan is to pay $200 a month and a lump sum $3,000 payment every February or March until its paid off in about 2 years.  It's an '08, so I figure it'll last longer than that.  Wife's car is paid for.  We kept it after the bankruptcy as wild card and exemptions..  It's an '05 Toyota Sienna.  Average miles, but the thing runs great.  I got a credit card from USAA, where I have a secondary checking account, and I got a Kohls charge.  We shop there fairly often, so it's a worthwhile store card.  Wife got a Capital One platinum with $300 limit unsecured.  That's it for rebuilding right now.  I'm in the garden.  

USAA card is currently near the limit because I use it to pay my bills.  Verizon, car insurance (through USAA) electric, etc.  It gets paid off every month, and before statement, but I'm talking currently.  Kohls card has about $150/$300 on it because we did some back to school shopping.  I'll pay it off when I get the statement.  

Th problem is with my wife.  She has no sense of financing.  She maxed her card out in the first two days of getting it.  "Forgot" to make a payment last month until I checked and made the minimum for her on the due date.  (The first payment due, mind you) and then this month, the payment is due tomorrow, and I checked and she hasn't done it this month, either.  I'm not sure why she bothered applying for a card if she isn't going to be responsible enough to pay it.  I pay all other household expenses, but I feel like she thinks I should pay this one too.  Is it fair for me to help her rebuild to a good credit score without her putting any effort in?  Is it fair for me to let her tank her score again post bk when I could easily just pay the $300 balance?  Anytime I mention this, she gets defensive and tells me I'm treating her like she's stupid, so I try to avoid it.  I just don't know what I should do.  I'm tempted to just let her pay it late and get a 30 day late, but what good will that do?  


You made the decision to wipe the slate clean and you're acknowledging that you have to rebuild.  That alone is reason enough to do what you can to keep your wife engaged and educated on all things credit.  I would try my best going forward to get her on board and if unsuccessful, then find ways to curb her spending and pay her CC's yourself.  Let her see the harm in ignoring the payments but also show her the rewards you get when your scores rise and you begin to get CLI's.  Your interest rate on that car loan is awful but I'm sure you know you'll be able to refinance out of it in a year or so with a good rebuild plan.  Stick to your plan and get her to jump in for the ride.  Good luck .

NFCU Visa 25k | Cap1 QS 11K | Cap1 QS 10.5K | Barclay Apple Rwds 9k | Amex AU 20k | Citi AU 10k | Delta Amex 2k | CFNA FS 2200 | VS 1200 | Car Loan 10/14 | Goal 740 by 9/17
Message 2 of 19
Established Contributor

Re: BK7 discharged. I learned from it. Wife didn't.


Creditwiser wrote:

jason0618 wrote:

So, as the title says, my wife and I filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy due to overwhelming medical bills after we had triplets.  Income is good, and prior to filing, I had great UTIL, and was at the point where credit wasn't an issue of "will I get approved", but rather "do I want to do this purchase".  It's a great position to be in.  My wife has always been had bad credit.  Charge offs, law suits, just flat out ignoring bills.  I tried briefly to help by adding her to my accounts as AU, but that didn't help much.  She just ignores the phone calls, or answers and just hands the phone to me so I'm getting calls on accounts she had before she even met me  Then came triplets,  and an extended NICU stay that exceeded my insurance company maximum.  

Fast forward to now.  We have been discharged for a few months, and I am on track to get rebuilt quickly.  I've read all the posts about BK to 700, and I'm doing pretty well with following them, with some minor changes.  Nothing major.  I'm now in the high 500's/low 600s across the board.  

I purchased a used car.  My old one was paid for, but had 200k miles and was 17 years old, so it was time.  Rather than jump into a brand new car with a high payment nd rate, I went with a used, low mileage Chevy Impala.  19% interest (yeah, I know) but the payment is $185 for 72 months.  Plan is to pay $200 a month and a lump sum $3,000 payment every February or March until its paid off in about 2 years.  It's an '08, so I figure it'll last longer than that.  Wife's car is paid for.  We kept it after the bankruptcy as wild card and exemptions..  It's an '05 Toyota Sienna.  Average miles, but the thing runs great.  I got a credit card from USAA, where I have a secondary checking account, and I got a Kohls charge.  We shop there fairly often, so it's a worthwhile store card.  Wife got a Capital One platinum with $300 limit unsecured.  That's it for rebuilding right now.  I'm in the garden.  

USAA card is currently near the limit because I use it to pay my bills.  Verizon, car insurance (through USAA) electric, etc.  It gets paid off every month, and before statement, but I'm talking currently.  Kohls card has about $150/$300 on it because we did some back to school shopping.  I'll pay it off when I get the statement.  

Th problem is with my wife.  She has no sense of financing.  She maxed her card out in the first two days of getting it.  "Forgot" to make a payment last month until I checked and made the minimum for her on the due date.  (The first payment due, mind you) and then this month, the payment is due tomorrow, and I checked and she hasn't done it this month, either.  I'm not sure why she bothered applying for a card if she isn't going to be responsible enough to pay it.  I pay all other household expenses, but I feel like she thinks I should pay this one too.  Is it fair for me to help her rebuild to a good credit score without her putting any effort in?  Is it fair for me to let her tank her score again post bk when I could easily just pay the $300 balance?  Anytime I mention this, she gets defensive and tells me I'm treating her like she's stupid, so I try to avoid it.  I just don't know what I should do.  I'm tempted to just let her pay it late and get a 30 day late, but what good will that do?  


You made the decision to wipe the slate clean and you're acknowledging that you have to rebuild.  That alone is reason enough to do what you can to keep your wife engaged and educated on all things credit.  I would try my best going forward to get her on board and if unsuccessful, then find ways to curb her spending and pay her CC's yourself.  Let her see the harm in ignoring the payments but also show her the rewards you get when your scores rise and you begin to get CLI's.  Your interest rate on that car loan is awful but I'm sure you know you'll be able to refinance out of it in a year or so with a good rebuild plan.  Stick to your plan and get her to jump in for the ride.  Good luck .


I disagree. You have tried to educate her, she doesn't want to be educated. You try to help her keep this fresh start fresh, she accuses you of treating her badly. What is going to happen when you keep her account in good standing so Cap1 raises her limit? Now since you have assumed responsibility (in the family, not legally) of paying that bill for her she is now going to expect you to keep paying the higher bill with higher spend. And qualifies her for more cards with higher limits that she will expect you to pay.

 

If it were me, I would tell her OK, you know what you should do. I'm leaving you responsible for your own debts. If she doesn't pay it, then it's on her.



Giving up on the images for now

Stepped out of the garden 10/9/16

Message 3 of 19
Regular Contributor

Re: BK7 discharged. I learned from it. Wife didn't.

Good job in getting back on your feet as quickly as possible.

 

Your wife is behaving like I do when I'm significantly avoidant of something. Thankfully I've never been such with bills, but with certain other aspects of life I sometimes find it literally impossible to do on my own, like paperwork or difficult phone calls regarding medical matters. My brain literally cannot think on the subject long enough to make the call because of a strong avoidance mechanism.

 

Usually this happens around subjects previously or curretly associated with a lot of trauma. My brain is trying to protect itself from more trauma. Fighting against that is HARD because it involves betraying your subconscious gut survival instincts. At least, from what I can gather with my own experience and journey through therapy so far.

 

What has helped me is when someone can walk through it with me non-judgementally. It's super embarassing to admit I cannot do a simple task on my own, or at least not reliably. I always assume I'll be able ot do it tomorrow, today isn't a good day. And I'll go MONTHS like that. I'm not proud of it, it's just how it is. Every day trying my best to do it, but unable to get my brain to focus on that painful subject enough to complete the task.

 

When another person can support me in it, then it often becomes doable again. I learned that I can fill out paperwork if my boyfriend is doing the actual writing and verbally asking me questions while I answer and pace the room. Other times just having a supportive person sitting next to me while I gather the courage to make the call myself or talk about it with me makes a world of difference.

 

You would know better than I if this sounds like what your wife is experiencing. But if it is, it'd be important to have a really non-judgmental approach of "hey, I'd love to support you in any way possible, what can I do?" Make sure you don't laugh or make any snide remarks if she says she genuinely can't do it. Dire consequences don't work in these scenarios, they just increase the stress which makes the avoidance even worse.

 

If she'd be up to getting credit counseling that might also be a good way to go. She might feel more comfortable discussing her hang-ups regarding this subject to a more neutral party.

 

Bottom line: It's awesome that you're on a good road. Once you start comparing what you've accomplished to what she's accomplished and questioning whether it's "fair" that's danger territory for a relationship. Maybe she is completely lazy. Or maybe she's feeling overwhelmed by triplets and has really strong aviodance mechanisms in place regarding finances and no awareness of it, tools to navigate it, or support through it.

 

I hope you find helpful suggestions in this thread and I wish you both the best!

 

Message 4 of 19
Frequent Contributor

Re: BK7 discharged. I learned from it. Wife didn't.

All very valid suggestions and thoughts.
That is my biggest fear is that if I pay her "easy" $300 credit card balance for her, she will continue to spend and get increases until it gets out of hand.
I think the best option for now is going to be to just pay the minimum $25 payment for her. That way there's only a small amount she has every month, and it's close enough to max that I won't have to worry about her getting a decent CLI anytime soon, but it won't get late payments on her report that she's in the process of fixing, and I am effectively helping her without enabling her. She's got to discover the importance of good credit at some point, right?


Gardening until further notice
Message 5 of 19
Valued Contributor

Re: BK7 discharged. I learned from it. Wife didn't.

You recieved some very different opinions here, either of which might be the best course of action. I do not know if continuing to pay this for her is wise or not. It is a hard decision either way. I will at least say thank you for reminding me why I have not re-married...been there...done that!!!! Good luck, however you choose to proceed!



TU fico08=834 04/28/18
EX fico08=825 05/19/18
EQ fico08=826 04/18/18
EX fico09=818 05/05/18
Message 6 of 19
Regular Contributor

Re: BK7 discharged. I learned from it. Wife didn't.


jason0618 wrote:
All very valid suggestions and thoughts.
That is my biggest fear is that if I pay her "easy" $300 credit card balance for her, she will continue to spend and get increases until it gets out of hand.
I think the best option for now is going to be to just pay the minimum $25 payment for her. That way there's only a small amount she has every month, and it's close enough to max that I won't have to worry about her getting a decent CLI anytime soon, but it won't get late payments on her report that she's in the process of fixing, and I am effectively helping her without enabling her. She's got to discover the importance of good credit at some point, right?

Honestly I feel that's along the lines of "treating her like a kid", the very thing she said she doesn't want. You're making plans to handle her credit without including her in said plans.

 

Is there any route to opening up a line of communicationon this subject? "Hey honey, I have some concerns about credit. Could we talk about it and work out a plan Monday night after the kids are down?"

 

If that sort of thing is not welcome or okay, then I'm thinking couples counseling. Like seriously, you need to be able to have these conversations with your spouse!

 

If she agrees to it, then try to put her in the steering wheel. "I'm concerned that X might happen, and it's really hard for me to sit on my hands and watch that occur. Do you have a plan for that? Is there anything more I could do to support your efforts?" As much as possible, make this about you, not her. "I worry about this, I worry about you. Could you help set my mind at ease by talking about this with me?"

 

This sort of script works really well for my partner and I in similar situations. Because even though the concern might be perfectly legit, sometimes the other person has a plan to handle it that they haven't shared, or is simply too overwhelmed to think about it and thus aren't actively worrying about it like you are. Framing it more as "I'm worried, I'm trying not to be worried, please engage with this as a favor for my sake" really helps take the pressure off them. Instead of "you need to get your life together!" it becomes more like "I'm a worried mess, could you support me through this?"

 

The interim solution you've suggested might in fact be an excellent way to keep her credit from getting too damaged while she figures out how to do life with triplets. But, I feel that should be done with her full understanding and consent to it, as a plan you've made together.

Message 7 of 19
Contributor

Re: BK7 discharged. I learned from it. Wife didn't.

Maybe I'm misinformed, but when you're married, isn't debt incurred by one spouse automatically dually shared? Maybe this depends on the state you live in, but if this is the case, then it seems like you might have a very personal stake in how your wife handles her bills.



Last app: 5/26/2015 (Sams Club Mastercard)
Message 8 of 19
Frequent Contributor

Re: BK7 discharged. I learned from it. Wife didn't.

Lot of pens-- I think you're right that some states have something to that effect, but in Ohio, we only share liability if we both sign for something. If she added me as AU on her credit card, my credit would be screwed if she didn't pay, but I wouldn't be liable for the bill. So the only stake I have in it is if she wants to be on the mortgage when We buy a house in a couple of years.


Gardening until further notice
Message 9 of 19
Frequent Contributor

Re: BK7 discharged. I learned from it. Wife didn't.

Will you need your wife's income when applying for a mortgage? I ask because if you won't, it might be better to just let her sink. These are my reasons: she's never shown any inclination to be responsible with credit. What has changed that you expect her to now? I think allowing her to continue to ruin her credit will keep the amount owed low and easier to handle should you need to jump in later.

Your wife might need to deal with her issues first, as in credit counseling and personal therapy. There could be a deeper reason why she continues to endanger her and her family's health, and not just financial -- having good credit and savings gives people options to leave bad situations.

I'm curious about your car purchase: was your older car breaking down regularly that you needed to replace it right away or were you just proactive in buying a new car. If the latter, did you consider just socking away money and raising scores in preparation for the time your current car broke down?
Message 10 of 19