I’ve had a bad problem with credit card debt

I’ve had a bad problem with credit card debt for a long time and it is getting worse. My wife and I are in serious debt trouble(however, all of our debts are current, no late payments).

My problem started in the late ’90’s when i was about 20-22 yrs old. I got several credit cards and ran up about 5K in debt within a year or so. I started to pay them off and ended up getting an apartment(I had been living with family till that point). About a year after I got my apartment, I had to go with a debt management program (Credit Counselors of America) to help me with my debts. By this point my debts have exceeded 18K.

I had to get a second job to be able to make my payment to CCOA, as it was 495.00 and I only made 490-525 dollars every two weeks and with rent, utilities etc, that wasn’t going to do it. I worked a second job on the weekends for nearly a year and I met my now wife.

She had a job at the time, but quit when we moved in together(she didn’t have a car or license and still doesn’t). For nearly five years I’ve paid everything on a salary of less than 22K a year.

Between our house payment(we live in a mobile home), car payment and credit cards our debts are nearly 50K. With no overtime I only bring home about 535 dollars every two weeks, should have been more but our insurance at work has doubled over the last few years (went from 75 dollars every two weeks to 121 dollars in just three years). Plus I’ve got about 25 dollars a pay period taken out in AFLAC also.

Here is a problem that I want some help with. I just checked my credit report on annualcreditreport.com and everyone of my creditors are in good standing (except MBNA, but that’s a story for another day) and my wife’s credit card companies keep raising her interest rates. She only has three cards with balances, although one is very high, but the one in question only has a balance of about 1100 dollars. It went from about 18% to about 29.9% in one or two billing cycles. Another one of her creditors did this to her and we had to borrow money from her mom to pay it off. I called this creditor myself and couldn’t get any decent reason as to why they rasied it other than some arbitrary formula.

I’ve had several of my cards go up from about 12-15% to around 18-22%. This is getting to the point that bankruptcy may be the only option. I don’t want to go down this road as I know that the laws have changed, but I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do to survive.

I would like some advice in how to negotiate(sp?) with the creditors to bring down the interest at least a few points if possible.

I also feel that the government made a big mistake in changing how the new minimum payments are figured. It has just about killed me trying to work every ounce of overtime that I can. I do not know how they figure that a working person can just pull nearly twice of the money out of thin air just to make minimum payments. We haven’t used our credit cards for frivilous things, other than a computer when our old one went out. We had to spend money for a trip when her grandmother passed away, a new water heater, new tires and brakes for our van, her asthma medicine, not to mention groceries and gas.

I’ve even checked out state website(we live in Indiana) and I make TOO MUCH money to qualify for any govt. assistance programs. I guess that 10.42/hr is really big time here.

My goal is to have EVERYTHING paid off in ten years. This will be a challenge, especially when the creditors are unwilling to work with a debtor.

I would be very appreciative to any suggestions, advice, etc that others on the board can offer. We are about to be in a major financial crisis when our tax refund check runs out here in a couple of months.

Many thanks to everyone for any help, and I appreciate blogs like that.