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August 03, 2010


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It is definitely "possible" to negotiate the payoff amount down, but you want to be very careful with how you do it. I would make sure they give me a written settlement offer to settle the account in full. I would let them know that I would make a payment by bank check or money order sent by overnight carrier as soon as an amount is agreed to and they send you that offer in writing. Some collections companies are not trustworthy (I'm being gentle...). If you pay by electronic transfer you may leave yourself vulnerable. I tend to be very conservative with this type of situation. But to answer your question, yes it is possible to negotiate a collections amount down.

The best thing my wife and I do to be on the same page is to stick to a written budget every month. We each have different priorities with money, but seeing everything on paper gets us on the same page quick. We dedicate money for her priorities and mine (these are spending priorities - she likes vacations and I like memorabilia). I realized that reasonable vacations are more important to my family than my collectibles, so I eventually cut those out. Now I'm even selling them to pay down my student loan debt! I would never have considered this if I didn't put down our spending and do a written budget with my wife. We spend a few minutes per day entering spending (at most) and about an hour a month planning for the month ahead.

Here are my thoughts on starting a budget ( - there are a few follow-up posts too. Good luck!

Since it has already gone to collections, the damage has been done. His credit score would have already taken a big hit, so even if you pay off the debt, the effects of the negative credit will persist for around seven years. The time to pay or negotiate would have been before the debt went to collections--now it is a moot point.

First, you need to look at the reason it was not paid to begin with. Go far back and figure out why he used the card and what was put on it. He must realize that he cannot do the same thing again - it will just get him deeper and deeper in debt. Second, it's time to pay it back. Call the collection agency and work out a payment plan. In the collection world, $2000 is not a lot of money and most likely they would not take less. I don't have the verse reference handy, but the Bible tells us that we must repay our debts. There is a lot of information about repaying debts in other posts on FMF.

It looks like the the link isn't working for some reason. But I did a few posts about starting a budget and some of my thoughts as part of a series of posts. Going to the regular site (linked from my name below) and doing the "budget" tag will get you there. Good luck again!

My advice is to offer something called a "Pay For Delete". Usually with this method you are unable to negotiate the debt down but if you offer to pay the full balance sometimes you can get them to delete the negative information from your credit report. This will actually be much more valuable in the long run. But you have to remember to get any promises like this in writing.

If you want to fight it and make their life hell, go to There is a mountain of information there, and if you really want to try to prevent forking over the $2k, they can help you out. Some people even end up getting money from the collection agencies who harass them! The harder you fight the more likely they are to settle.

What has been said above is correct- the damage to the credit score has already been done. Don't stress this too much. In general, people stress their credit score way too much. I am currently fighting a ~$5000 charge on my credit report for college classes I never took or signed up for, and I am still in the 700's (I was close to 800 prior). Keep in mind though that for most people, it's rarely just a single bill that there is an issue with- you should have your boyfriend run a credit report to see who else may be after him.

My advice is that you get a new boyfriend who can manage his finances and doesn't need his girlfriend to talk to the collection agency on his behalf. Stay out of the whole issue. It's not your problem and he doesn't care.

I like that "Pay for Delete" option that Rich suggested.

I know from experience with a friend's debt that you can totally talk them down. She had bought a $2500 computer system from Dell for her business and couldn't pay 4 months later. It was sent to collections and they settled for $1700.

Good luck. I'd also see what led to this to start with so it doesn't happen again...

I agree with Leigh, find yourself a new boyfriend that can manage his finances.
Be glad that you found out about this major flaw before you married him and he went on to ruin your credit rating.
I wish you the best of luck, you seem to have your act together so just keep looking.

While all the above is good advice on how to get out of this problem, it is his problem and not yours.

You are not his mother; you are his girlfriend. While you each should have each other's back, it seems that its only you, and not he, interested in resolving this issue. Not "everyone" gets into collections sometime, particularly with a debt they are trying to ignore. And, I can only assume (from the fact that you "only" have a piece of paper that shows $2000 due, and that it's been in collection for almost a year) that he is not being upfront about the debt. And he doesn't even care.

You two are obviously not on the same level, financially speaking. This does not bode well for your future together. Without knowing much more about his financial situation, I say run, don't walk, away from the relationship.

Seems like the first conversation you need to have with him is about his money and your feelings and concerns. Then address the issue of collections and make suggestions. Good luck, that is a tough situation to be in.

I was just looking at the problem at hand...if we're voting on whether you should find a more financially stable boyfriend or not, I'd be running like hell. Of course, I married a guy who would say the exact same thing ("she's in stupid debt, uh, no thanks."). :-)

Good luck with whatever you decide, but do keep in mind that this is only your problem if you think you'll be combining finances in the future...

We don't know the circumstances of the debt or his financial situation. Seems a little harsh to recommend she dump him based on one bill in collections with no explaning detail. Maybe he is a total deadbeat and financial nightmare. But maybe he's got a good reason or reasonable explanation.

While I fall into the "run away, run away" camp on this, 'jim' makes a good point. Maybe there is a valid reason for the debt. Still. Clearly they need to have a conversation now.

But. Just as important--based on the given info- she is in danger of entering into a "Prince Charming" role but in reverse. She wants to rescue him, to save him from himself. She seems a bit controlling and she needs to think about her own motives. I know this is a pretty big leap, based on scant info. Neverthless. She posted here and I have read her post several times. She's about to embark on the good ship, Enabler.

The best thing I can think of for her is to ask him: What are you going to do about this? what is your plan? Based on what he says, should give her an idea of what she she should do.

Jim is right, we don't know the circumstances.

However, in a situation like this, if there were explanatory issues for her boyfriend's debt that the reader knows about, she surely would have mentioned them. As she did not, I take her story on face value and urge the reader to bail her boyfriend out only if she can picture herself bailing him out for the rest of her life. Or she can consider the problem as his to solve, which is what I would do in her place.

Alternatively, perhaps she thinks that being financially irresponsible is a phase that he'll grow out of. (She may be right!)

Finally, she may be looking at our responses and thinking "If they only knew the whole story, they would see why I'm eager to help him past this problem he has." To which I would reply: "We only know the story you've told us."

If the reader's problem was that her boyfriend tracked mud from his workboots across her clean floors everyday, I don't think many people in this forum would be giving her advice about what brand of carpet cleaner to buy.

Get a new boyfriend. Money trouble is the biggest cause of relationship trouble. A boyfriend who can't handle money well will cause you far more heartache and pain than he is worth.

i think its great you want to help him, if this relationship is important to you, then do all you can, because thats what couples do for eachother. the people saying get a new boyfriend are in my opinion completely disrespectful and not looking at your question at all.
anyways, in regards to the debt, yes the damage to his credit score has already been done. but, its not all lost yet. it wont be on the report for 7 years once you have it paid off or settled, it will be 3 years before it vanishes. i do recommend settling the debt though, because just ignoring it will not make it go away, teh collections calls will continue and you could eventually go to court over the debt. call them up, offer them a lump sum settlement for lets say 40% of the balance, and then negotiate. make sure you get everything in writting though, CA tend to be sneaky in their dealings. Hope this helped!
Preferred Financial Services

Yes, he should pay the debt. Either negotiate a new balance or start making the payments.
Education about money management is key. My advice is for both of you to go through Financial Peace University from Dave Ramsey or read Total Money Makeover. He will learn what he is doing wrong and how to fix it and you will learn how to handle situations like this. If he isn't willing to learn how to manage money with you, then yes, you must move on and not allow him to ruin your finances.

All the above comments are really good. I've put them all thru the Crashdamage filter and ended with this :

You can point him in the right direction, but don't do it form him; its HIS problem. He has to fix it.Himself. Otherwise, he will have learned nothing.

And like everyone else who posted, I really wish you the best in this situation.

I am not a relationship expert, so I will leave that sort of advice to others. :-)

First, he should educate himself about the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. This is the law that debt collectors have to follow, and it outlines his "rights" when dealing with collectors.

Second, he can certainly work with the collector to see if he can work out a deal to pay part of the debt. Many companies and collection agencies are willing to negotiate. It costs the company money to track people down, get them on the phone, send them letters, file lawsuits, deal with bankrupcies. Many are willing to get something so that they don't have to continue to pursue the case against you. It is cheaper for them to settle rather than to keep fighting.

However, my own personal opinion is a person has a moral obligation to pay his or her debts in full. Yes, he might be able to get away with paying a fraction of the debt if the collector is amenable, but that doesn't mean that it is right. If he has the money, send them a check for the full amount of the debt and sleep well at night!

While it is admirable you are trying to help, the real question is why? Is he incapable of dealing with this on his own? If so, you should investigate legal options for ways he can turn over his financial matters to someone capable.

If not, then the red flag is his lack of interest in taking care of this matter, both before it became a major issue, and now. Ignoring the reality of paying bills, dealing with collection calls, and the future impact of both, is troubling.

Cant agree with those either on the "run away" or the "do all you can no matter what" side of this.

This will be an excellent situation where you can learn about this person. Help him the same way you would help any friend ("hey, I heard some people do this in this situation...") and watch what happens. Maybe he's not so irresponsible. Or maybe you'll discover you're not that uptight afterall. Its great you get to sit back and learn about this guy before you and your finances are married to him.

I'm really surprised at all the "dump him" comments. Am I the only person here who's gone from a financial trainwreck to someone who manages money well?

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