Dear Dave: I have $100,000 in student loan debt. Since the amount is so large, is there a special place in your Baby Steps plan for it?
Dear Julie: The fact that it’s a large amount of student loan debt doesn’t change anything. Baby Step 2 is where you pay off all debt except for your home.
I hope you have a nice, large income with which to fight that big, nasty pile of student loan debt. Believe it or not, I’ve seen even worse situations. I’ve talked to people who went $200,000 into debt for a four-year degree in a field where they’ll make $50,000. That kind of thinking and behavior is ridiculous, but it’s out there.
Whatever you do, don’t let this student loan debt hang around for years and years. You’ve got to get focused and intense about getting control of your money. That means living on a strict, basics-only monthly budget. After that, start throwing every nickel and dime you can scrape together and save toward those student loans as fast as possible.
Your income is your largest wealth-building tool, Julie. You can’t save, and plan for the future, when all your money is flying out the door to pay back debt!
Dear Dave: I have a credit card that I haven’t made a payment on in almost two years. The debt has been sold a couple of times, and now a collector is saying I owe $1,200. The original amount was $500. I’d like to work something out, but I can’t afford $1,200. What should I do?
Dear Luanne: They’re asking for $1,200 because they’ve added things like interest and late fees. They want to make as much money as possible on an old debt they bought for pennies on the dollar.
If you can afford $500 right now, ask if they’ll accept a one-time payment to settle the account. Get it in writing if they accept the offer, and don’t give them a penny until after you get a copy of the written agreement. Once you have the agreement in hand, send them a money order or cashier’s check for $500. Do not, under any circumstances, give them electronic access to your bank accounts.
You waited too long to take of your obligation, Luanne. That made things more difficult and more stressful than necessary. I’m glad you decided to do the right thing, and clean up your mess, though. Better late than never!