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Ideas on helping someone with really bad credit?

Mega Contributor

Re: Ideas on helping someone with really bad credit?

@SoCalGardener wrote:

If you were trying to help someone improve their scores, but they have really bad credit and their attitude about finances is diametrically opposed to yours, where would you start?


She *knows* she's awful with credit. She'll get a sub-prime card, yes, like the dreaded Credit One, with a $300 limit, immediately run it all the way up, then get trapped in the high-interest, over-limit, penalty-fees-keep-adding-up conundrum and can't get out. Card gets closed, her score nosedives even more, then she tries again after a while.


She's asked me before if I'd be willing to help her, and of course I said yes. (Unbeknownst to her, I posted a thread about her last year--I was asking about adding her as an AU and what, if any, impact that could have on me.) She's aware that I've been to hell and back--more than once--financially, and she knows where I am today. I really would like to help her, but she's very resistant to just sitting down and facing facts.


I've asked her what her FICO scores are and she had no idea. I encouraged her to at least sign up for a CK account, which would give her an idea of her scores but, more importantly, list out everything pertaining to her credit, like old accounts, when they were opened/closed, charge-offs, and so on. But she refused. I have her SSN and if I asked her, she'd say yes to me creating an account (I won't do it behind her back), but I really think SHE needs to do this. Baby steps, you know?


She's not a child, nor is she stupid. She's in her 30s and very intelligent. But when it comes to facing facts and buckling down and doing the hard work to get her finances in order, it's like pulling teeth.


I realize it's not my problem. She's not my daughter or niece or anything like that. (She's my live-in helper.) I'm absolutely obsessed with keeping my credit in order--trust me, having been in the toilet (bankruptcy), keeping my stellar credit is a big, big deal to me. And I actively work on it every day, checking all of my accounts, staying on top of any purchases, never, ever paying only the minimum payment, usually paying in full (unless I'm on a 0% offer), watching my scores like a hawk, etc. She's the exact opposite. Sometimes, when I'm the one who brings in the mail, I can't help but notice the big, red letters on an envelope shouting something like "URGENT! Past due!!" I remember those very well...


Sorry for rambling. If you have any ideas on how to start, given that she is very reluctant to face the facts and start dealing with them, please let me know.

If you want to help her


- give her small, easy to accomplish, tasks, rather than impossible homework assignments like "list out everything pertaining to her credit, like old accounts, when they were opened/closed, charge-offs, and so on".E.g. ask her to give you the statements as they come in, so you can make notes

- you keep track of her big picture, because you have experience doing that for yourself; don't expect her to do that;

- if she doesn't do the small easy things you advise, such as giving you the statements, then you can't help her

Total revolving limits 743700 (625200 reporting) FICO 8: EQ 705 TU 717 EX 687

Message 31 of 33
New Contributor

Re: Ideas on helping someone with really bad credit?

@SoCalGardener wrote:

@KangiCosmos wrote:

OK, I know most say if if she's not willing then there is no hope. Especially her not even wanting to LOOK and register with Credit Karma to see what is on there. I'm sure it's self protective mechanism.

Here's what I sugeest. Go ahead and set up Credit Karma for her AND Experian (Experian lets you see whats on there for FREE, but the free is only Experian Fico 8).

Once you do this print what is on her credit report. Look for one thing that can be taken care of the easiest, knowing just that will increase her score by even 1pt. Maybe a smaller pay for delete collection, something like that. Have her sit with you while you sit buy her to take care of one thing. Then once it reports and a point is added. Show her. Maybe she needs to see the reward of increased points and that it is possible to make it better. "The proof is in the pudding" so to speak. That reward could enduce endorphines, and each point increase will create more "good feelings" in her. And hopefully cause a domino effect that she will want that feeling more and want to continue the positive increase journey.


Best of Luck,


Thanks--I love this! It's like you really GET her! My only issue is that I don't want to open any accounts without her permission. But, overall, I think this is a brilliant plan--because I know from experience how good it feels when you can *see* the results of your hard work. And being able to quantify it, i.e., with scores that go up as each new action is completed, makes it very attractive and may actually get through to her.


You know, it's really tough when you're dealing with someone who is neither young nor stupid, and who KNOWS that they're really awful with financial matters...but I guess she just feels so downtrodden, like what's the point?, that she can't work up the energy or enthusiasm to finally tackle it. My ex-husband, whom I wrote an entire thread about, was very similar; his thing was 'magical thinking'--he thought the universe would just magically provide...whatever. And there I was, the realist, saying WE NEED MONEY IN THE BANK! When I was sick many years ago, he literally did not open a single piece of mail that came while I was laid up (I was the one who handled all our finances). Months later, I found boxes/bags filled with *unopened* bills....late notices....warnings....threats....shut-off notices....card closures....and so on. And he was oblivious because his 'solution' was "out of sight, out of mind!" Stick them in the den closet, shut the door, and that's that. My helper is very similar. She starts out with good intentions. And then it just implodes somehow.


Thanks for the great post. It's appreciated. Smiley Happy

I do not think she will get a feeling from seeing points go up. Those and even get credit score most likely mean nothing to her. Until she is able to actually feel the repercussions that her choices have caused, she is not going to be able to connect with a "random" number on a computer screen.


I think helping her is causing more stress to you than it is to her. When things get to this level, you need to just step aside.

Message 32 of 33
New Contributor

Re: Ideas on helping someone with really bad credit?

@SoCalGardener wrote:

@lns1976 wrote:

@SoCalGardener I would never say never because she could wake up and surprise you. Smiley Wink


It sounds like your more concerned about her future than she is.  If she has no savings has she thought about what happens if something were to happen and she lost her job (which sounds like her place to live as well) tomorrow?  


And being a live-in helper what bills does she pay herself?  If she isn't paying any she may not have any reason to show financial responsability.

There's a very long and complicated story behind all this. Brace yourself! I met her after I moved back home to SoCal; she was a vet tech at my new veterinarian's office. Not only did I like her but, more importantly, my beautiful baby, my little boy (who happened to be a Great Dane) LOVED her. Even though she was the one, later, who gave him his monthly Adequan injections. Fast forward. She left my vet for another one, we lost touch, then bumped into each other in cyberspace. When I was hospitalized (for six months, after almost dying), she took over pet-sitting, and started visiting me [often] in the hospital, which I really appreciated. One thing led to another, and when I was getting close to being released, she was in the process of moving. She had her own apartment, paid her own bills and rent and everything, but they were raising the rent and she needed to move. I had been told I would need around-the-clock care once released--I was bedbound and *completely* helpless (think too weak to even use a bedpan! Smiley Surprised). We tossed around the idea and we agreed that she'd move in (I have a spare bedroom), take care of me, my pets (like cleaning litter boxes and feeding them), and the house (like cleaning and doing laundry), in exchange for free rent.


It worked out great for a long time. But as I became stronger and--finally--mobile again, and could do things myself, like go to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee, her tasks lessened and lessened. She eventually went back to work--for my vet!--as I just didn't need her very much any more. She still does all the physical duties around here, like cooking, doing laundry, scooping the boxes, etc., but long ago slacked off on the housekeeping, which I'm not happy about. And we've had huge arguments about this. (Before I got sick, I'd had maid service for many years for housecleaning, but with a healthy, able-bodied young person living here, there was no reason she couldn't do the cleaning.) But I digress.


She recently graduated from school to be an aesthetician; she's on vacation right now and when she comes back she'll be taking her state boards to get licensed. She did great in school--flew through at the top of her class--and when she's all set up there's no reason she can't make a very nice income. Once she does, I just don't want to see that money evaporate. I know, it does seem like I'm more concerned about her future than she is--but I think that's BECAUSE I've personally found out what happens when you don't have money saved for a rainy day. I found out hard. At 22. That was the first time. Illness caused that financial catastrophe, and has reared its ugly head more times than I can recall. This most recent illness, the one that included six months in the hospital, cost me SIX FIGURES out-of-pocket in medical bills. Thank goodness I had insurance! I can't even imagine the cost without it. But still, six figures. She doesn't have six dollars for an emergency.


She's seen what it's like to be really ill and have your life turned upside down, and she's well aware of the tens of thousands of dollars I spent on medical bills, because she worked with my [out-of-state] daughter after I got home to sort through the MOUNTAIN of bills that had come while I was hospitalized. She helped write out checks and make phone calls to collection agencies, so she saw the amounts, and it had to have an impact on her. But, somehow, it just doesn't sink in. *shrug*

I am not trying to be rude at all here (and I notice that you have not been on in a while), but after reading this story and your other post on how she would love to buy your house, I get the feeling that she is actually smarter in her decisions and is using/taking advantage of you. Like she helped to get her foot in the door and now is slacking off. If she could help you call collection agencies and care about your credit, then why not do that for herself? Something else is going on here in my opinion - like she is hoping to get the house or just riding out free housing. Especially if her boyfriend lives in Costa Rica and say she moves there, then building credit here is kind of pointless.


Something just screams fishy to me on all of this. Which I hope is not the case since you seem really nice. But I wonder if she saw that too and used it against you since you could be an "easy target." I would not be shocked if something happened to you and she sued your family for not getting the house even though it is in the trust. Maybe not to get the house, but to leverage and get money since she "put in all the hard work." Especially if she is living there and something happened to you, it may not be so easy for her to leave. My dad and his ex-girlfriend split and it took him about two years and three lawyers (at the same time) to get her to move out since she had rights. 🙄


I think you have helped her a lot already and need to separate yourself from the situation. It seems that you mixed business with pleasure and you are now stuck. You need to flip this back to a business relationship or she needs to go out on her own and then it can be personal and you can help her get back on her feet in terms of building credit. At this point, I would be focusing on protecting myself and not helping someone else.

Message 33 of 33
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