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Author Topic: HIV+ / Debt  (Read 2780 times)

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Offline steven.x

  • Member
  • Posts: 5
HIV+ / Debt
« on: October 18, 2006, 08:48:20 AM »
Hi Guys,

It's been some time since I posted on here although I do read regularly.

I am currently recovering from a nervous breakdown and thought I would add my thoughts on this matter.

I was diagnosed in April 2001 and am ashamed to say did not take the news very well. In fact, I dont remember much of the first two years of my treatment. I turned to alcohol and tried to block out the dark feelings of isolation and lonliness.

Many of my friends were unable to understand my feelings of total self destruction and have since gone their own way and not kept in touch. Sometimes I would feel guilty for expecting others to take time out of their lives to care and understand my situation.

In this period of denial I managed to amass a lot of financial debt with loans and credit cards thinking my life would be short lived and at the end of the day "you can't take it with you". The financial mess eventually got so bad that I was paying out most of my wages from work on interest alone! I had no option to move back into my parents who, to this day, do not know of my condition.

I recently got so stressed that I was suffering daily anxiety attacks and could not even hold a glass of water for shaking!

I decided that something had to give. I thought about suicide on a daily basis.

My hospital then put me on a new med combo of Kivexa and Sustiva. I suddenly felt so energetic and alive and my results have come to an all time high.

Sounds good?

I am now facing a huge financial mess which I have written to my various creditors and tried to explain my state of mind at the time of taking out the burden. Needless to say I am not getting much by way of human compassion back from them.

I have now been to see a financial advisor with a company called Spectrum Financial Protection who promise to reduce your bills to a level that you can afford. I have also decided to break free again from my judgemental parents who do not know of my diagnosis of my debt problem! I will be moving in with an old friend at the end of October.

It may seem like I am getting my life together but I stil feell scared and alone. Scared that my creditors are going to start calling my parents which will alert them that there is a problem. Scared that I might have to tell them the truth. Scared that they will disown me and judge me as a failure.

Inside myself I know that I am a fighter. I have been fighting this disease and am ready to fight my debt problem. Would be nice to have my parents on side though rather than the feeling of even deeper isolation.

Any constructive advise welcome!

Offline randym431

  • Member
  • Posts: 1,125
Re: HIV+ / Debt
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2006, 09:55:59 AM »
I can't add a lot, and I see you're not in the US so laws are different. You might want to look into a bankruptcy if thats an option. Depends on the laws there, your bills & type of bills and stuff like that. Bankruptcy was made for people that get to the place you may be in. high bills and stressing with an illness too. Creators will have no sympathy. When my cousin got aids back in 1989 he had three jobs just to get by. Then he went to two, then one and finally he could not work. His creators would listen, feel sorry, then right away say something like " so, what payment can you send to us today". Like they were saying "forget about the others, but you must pay us".
And watch those financial advisors. Most are just a scam. Many have been put out of business here in the US. They promise a lot, do very little and charge you for it too boot.  They also mess up your credit so bad that bankruptcy is far less damaging.
My sister works for a bankruptcy attorney (or did some time ago), and I'd refer you to her for answers, if you were in the US. She knows it all (hehe), or thinks she does.  ;D

All the best!  And do what you have to i.e. financially. Put your needs first, not some credit card company. They will get by just fine...

Offline keyite

  • Member
  • Posts: 514
Re: HIV+ / Debt
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2006, 10:10:19 AM »
I would echo that. Be very careful with these debt management companies - they need to earn their crust too and it will invariably be coming out of your pocket.

Have you tried more neutral sources of advice? For example,

CAB: http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/winnn6/index.htm or
The National Debt Helpline: http://www.nationaldebtline.co.uk/

It might also be worth contacting the Terrence Higgins Trust - http://www.tht.org.uk - to see what/who they would recommend.

Offline Maestro

  • Member
  • Posts: 225
Re: HIV+ / Debt
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2006, 11:40:54 AM »
OK.  See you are not in the US, so I dont know how relevant this is.  BUT, if you call the creditors (which is all those scammers at the credit repair places do) and talk to them, the are VERY willing to negotiate.  My Uncle had a similar situation and we were able to negotiate down to 50% on the dollar for what was owed!  These companies are thrilled to get anything money they can because so often they get stiffed!

M

« Last Edit: October 18, 2006, 11:43:49 AM by Maestro »

Offline Strayboy74

  • Member
  • Posts: 1,054
  • tastes like chicken
Re: HIV+ / Debt
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2006, 12:14:04 PM »
Many of my friends were unable to understand my feelings of total self destruction and have since gone their own way and not kept in touch. Sometimes I would feel guilty for expecting others to take time out of their lives to care and understand my situation.

This, I understand.

I went through a similar spiral of isolation and destruction after my diagnosis.  And unfortunately, I recognized it and observed it happening as though I was captive prisoner within my own body, unable to stop it.  And though time has allowed me to get a handle on, and  stop the destructive behaviors, I still find myself in isolation - pushing what remains of my social structure to the brink of boundaries.  I feel like I've finally broken through the chrysalis of diagnosis, and am emerging with a new perspective on the world around me.  It appears that you might be feeling the same.  Good luck.

I find that debt companies are quite interesting.

You may already know this, but often times debt companies sell your debt to other debt companies for pennies on the dollar.  This is good news!  It means that you can cut a deal with them for a fraction of the amount you actually owe.  This happened to me with a car I had gotten, shortly before I found myself on the brink of homelessness about 8 years ago.  The car was never repo'd, but the loan was sold to a collection agency.  This usually happens when the original creditor believes you to be uncollectable.  So, After negotiating a great deal with the creditors, I paid a couple thousand dollars outright (approximately a quarter of what I owed), under the condition that they expunge the incident from my credit report, and I then moved on with my life.

Additionally, if a creditor should call you at home, you have the right to tell them that you do not wish to be contacted there, ask for a name and an address, and tell them that you are documenting the incident, and any further contact will be reported to the Federal Trade Commission.  However, that doesn't mean, necessarily that you won't recieve calls again regarding the issue.  If the credit gets sold to another company, so you may have to repeat the process, ad nauseum.  However, usually, if you negotiate with the companies, they'll stop calling you.

At the rehab center where I used to work, we would cut deals with people who had debts considered to be uncollectable and we ended up making more than if we had turned them over to collections.  Many companies are finding that this is a more profitable practice than turning stuff over to collections.

Anyway, you might want to check out your credit rating at freecreditreport.com - you have to sign up for their services, but if you cancel within 30 days (more than enough time to check out their advice and whatnot) you don't have to pay anything.  

Good luck.   Just remember - don't stress about it.  Millions of people in this country are in debt, you're in good company. :)

-joseph
« Last Edit: October 18, 2006, 12:21:14 PM by Strayboy74 »

Offline Miss Philicia

  • Member
  • Posts: 24,225
  • celebrity poster, faker & poser
Re: HIV+ / Debt
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2006, 12:31:09 PM »
hmmm... I went through all of this years ago and racked up so much debt, then went on disability and had to file bankruptcy.  Hate talking about it but there wasn't really an alternative, and thankfully all the filing process was handled by GMHC in NYC for free, though the process was a bit drawn out when they made some repeated filing mistakes.

Bankruptcy stuff was changed this past year by Congress and I'm not sure of the details, but I know it made it harder to do.  If you go this route ask your local ASO if anyone provides these services pro bono.
"Iíve slept with enough men to know that Iím not gay"

Offline fearless

  • Member
  • Posts: 2,191
Re: HIV+ / Debt
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2006, 06:53:26 PM »
hey Steven,
I have huge debts too, mostly from gambling/drinking/drugs, but before I was diagnosed.
I actually went to my bank about 2 years back and ditched all the various credit cards etc into one consolidated loan at a reasonable interest rate. It is much eaiser to make one payment each fortnight, and as I have no redraw facility I can't keep racking up new debts. I've got a long way to go, but got it to under 40K just this month.  ;D
Have a talk to one of your local banks. If you have a stable job and income, they are likely to help you out. Mine did all the hard work too, sending cheques off, closing credit card accounts etc
Steve
Be forgiving, be grateful, be optimistic

Offline Regretsafew

  • Member
  • Posts: 100
Re: HIV+ / Debt
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2006, 07:50:35 PM »
Hi there,

A few years ago  I was having some problems with credit cards as well.   I used this company out of Flordia called  Emergency Debt Relief.   They basically  took alot of money from me and did absolutely nothing.  I  had problems with 3 credit cards.  I settled my debt with 2 of them for less than  50% of my balance  by my self  with the creditor.  and I'll be working on the last one  in the near future.  I just stopped making my payments  because they Citibank-  Jacked up my interest rate to 28%.  Becareful with them debt companies.  And if you want your creditors to quit calling you  you can send them  a  Cease and Desist letter and it makes it illegal for them to contact you via telephone.    Hope this helps  and Good luck 

Joey

Offline Eldon

  • Member
  • Posts: 2,664
Re: HIV+ / Debt
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2006, 11:44:30 PM »
Hello Steven,

It is good to hear from a fellow member. It is also therapeutic to sit down and write out your thoughts. I can also relate to you when you speak of nervous breakdowns. Generally, when this happens in your life, it is an accumulated amount of events that have taken place in your life from external anxieties which automatically triggers your internal anxieties to lead you to your eventual breakdown.

The good news is that you can recover from this. It is a harsh reality that you are HIV positive. The BEST thing that you can DO is focus on YOU and get your life back in order. Truly your parents are an excellent asset to your support system. They DO care about their son and they only want what is BEST for YOU. It is better for them to know rather than not know of your situation. Maybe they can help. However, you can disclose to them when you are ready to do so.

As for your financial situation. There are a number of ways that you can address this. I have had the opportunity to work in the financial arena and it is relatively quite simple to get rid of your debts. As some have mentioned, you can negotiate with your creditors to come to a settlement amount to pay off your debt.

In actuality, you do not need to go to a Debt Management company as all they do is negotiate a payment for you. You can do that yourself. Do not let the collector hassle you into making a promise that you cannot keep. There are FDCPA guidelines that protect you as the consumer.

Here's an Idea of what you can do:

1. List your accounts from the highest to the lowest balance
2. Total your monthly income
3. Subtract your "needed" expenses Ie: Food, Meds, Clothing, Shelter, Transportation
4. This will leave you with a "disposable" income
5. Take the "DI" and divide it by the number of accounts that you have
6. Each creditor gets that amount each month until paid
7. Stick to your budget

--OR--

You can start with the lowest balance, negotiate a settlement and pay each one off one-by-one each month. Make sure that you get your settlement letter from them. Go from the lowest balance to the highest balance.

--OR--

If your credit score is strong enough, you can go to your local bank or credit union and ask for a consolidation loan.

--OR--

If either of the options do not work for you, then you may want to consider a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy on all of your debts.

As I said, there are a number of different ways for you to address this financial situation. I wish you the BEST in all of your endeavors.

Make the BEST of each Day!

Offline Jeffreyj

  • Member
  • Posts: 1,403
Re: HIV+ / Debt
« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2006, 01:34:37 AM »
I think it is awesome that you are able to talk about all of this. We have all been down and out. I hope you find your way back to being able to enjoy life again. It may take some time, but it will be worth the effort. I hope you find the strength and courage you will need...looks like you are off to a good start. Keep fighting!
Positive since 1985

Offline Just John

  • Member
  • Posts: 267
Re: HIV+ / Debt
« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2006, 12:59:05 PM »
Hi Steven, I still stand by my reply to your original post.

Quote
Would be nice to have my parents on side though rather than the feeling of even deeper isolation.

If you don't tell them, you're not giving them the chance to either help or support you; you don't need to tell them everything, just the bits that you feel comfortable with.

Keep us posted buddy, John.
Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.

Offline tcellsnaction

  • Member
  • Posts: 43
  • just me.....
Re: HIV+ / Debt
« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2006, 01:24:24 PM »
Wow!
I felt like I was reading about my own life......I have been going through much of the same, including a breakup of a thirteen year long term relationship.  Needless to say over the years, I allowed my finances to go astray with the thought that I wasn't going to live to be around....but surprise....
Now the depression of the realities has set in and I feel isolated and abandoned, but am striving to overcome it all.  I recently filed Chapter 7 and my creditors meeting is Nov. 1.  Amazing, the debt was only $25,000 but the credit reports show a total of $107,000 and it became impossible to deal with the creditors when I recognized the problem.  Their attitude was to tell me that they would just sue me instead of trying to work with me....this after years of ontime payments....
I too am on disability but have started a part-time job as part of a return to work program and will lose the disability in the middle of next year so hopefully the bankruptcy will ease the anxiety of the financial issues.
I too have had people that I thought were friends who turned their backs when I tried to reach out in moments of desparation and depression.  They are not friends....so I prefer being alone, than with people that are not supportive. 
Lessons learned.....when I called my parents and told them of my breakup and the need to file bankruptcy....the next day I received a check for the amount without even asking.  It is true that a loving family will be supportive in spite of what our preconceived ideas are.  Sometimes, we disappoint ourselves more than we do others and the disappointment they feel is that we have to go through these trials and tribulations instead of reveling in the joys of life.
I am still battling the depression but have hope that it will all work out....ironically i was watching a show the other night and someone said....look at the bright side...you have hit rock bottom, the only way is up now.....that is true for me and I hope that you can find your way with the support of true friends and your inner strength....
Be well...Live with Passion! :)
Live With Passion!

Wherever you feel most comfortable, this is your home....
Whoever shows you greatest love and kindness, these are your family....

 


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