Thursday, February 14, 2008

Slowly creeping down

Very few people know this, but when my ex-husband Michael and I were married, I had horrible credit. Really, really bad. I'd gotten into serious financial trouble in law school, and let my credit card bills get out of control. Then I had to quit work for school, and didn't have enough money to make even the minimum payments because I was stretched too thin living in an apartment that I really couldn't afford. I struggled for a few months paying minimum balances with student loan money - but in the end embarassingly, many of them were cancelled by the companies as bad debt.

I've struggled for the last five years to pay off the $20,000+ I owed. But, I paid off every cent. I never settled the accounts for less, even though that option was extended to me time and again. I incurred the debt, and I felt morally obligated to pay them off. And, I was applying to three state bars during that time, and I had to show that I was a reputable person.

Even after unscrupulous credit collection agencies contacted my manager and told them that I was a deadbeat (a blatant violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) who had skipped out on her debt. [That would be Risk Management Alternatives, who I had to fight tooth and nail to prove that I had already paid the debt via cancelled checks, and it still took them over nine months to fix the error. In the meantime, they called my house, my cell phone, my job upwards of 20-30 times a day... one particular employee cursed at me, threatened me with physical harm, called me a whore, a loser, a joke, etc. When I would attempt to make payment arrangements they would laugh and hang up.]

Patrick's credit is impeccable, though he also struggled a great deal with repairing his credit while going through his divorce. One of the conditions of my divorce was that Michael had to refinance the house (I let him keep it - and all equity in it, much to the shock and horror of most of my family and friends) within a "reasonable time." I was trying to be patient, because I knew he still had lousy credit - and unlike me, didn't have much income with which to refinance with. But, his mom was going to help him. As of yet, the mortgage is still in my name, though I have given him a quit claim deed so I technically no longer own it anymore. While I make quite a bit of money, I'm still woefully in debt. I had over $100,000 in student loan debt by the time I was done with my MBA and law school degrees. I'll be paying those babies off for another 25 years or so.

I'm still on the mortgage for the house in Overland Park. Patrick and I bought our rambling historic house last Thanksgiving, and we just bought a new Saab 9-3 about a week and a half ago. Oh. And then there's my car (a '04 Nissan Altima that I bought new in 2005, but we got only with an exorbitant rate because of our bad credit). And... then I'm still on the loan for Michael's car because it was a joint loan.

This morning, I refinanced my car, and was able to cut the interest rate by about 3 points (still not a fabulous deal due to the fact that it's a refinance). But it dropped the payment about $80 per month. I'm going to try to keep up the "normal" payments that I've been making, and hopefully pay it off sooner.

My credit woes are resolving, but it's taken a long, long time to get here. Now, if I could only get Michael to follow through with the refinancing of the house... that would help me tremendously.

1 comment:

Helen said...

We really do have the same past, babe.