The year of 2018 came to a rather disappointing close as my slightly sleep deprived friends munched on potato chips and argued about the long forgotten lyrics of “Auld Lang Syne”.

As intellectual stimulation seemed stagnant, I shifted my attention to my annual act of writing a ludicrously long list of New Year resolutions that will most surely perfect my life in the future. As the ink dries on my crumpled sheet of notebook paper, the future seems bright, fresh, new. I almost forget that I failed to fulfill any of these lofty, elusive goals last year, and the year before, and the year before.

I imagine this feeling is familiar to many Americans. The list of the most popular New Year Resolutions consists of persistent, pesky goals that will undoubtedly appear year after year, decade after decade. It’s likely that they have found a prominent place on your list as well.

1. Lose weight.

This is far from surprising as America has been infamously labeled one of the fattest countries in the world. Given that roughly 190 countries exist on Earth, we have an impressive reputation known far and wide (pun fully intended). As hordes of hungry Americans snack on celery stalks and salad greens, losing weight soon seems an insurmountable task. This readily explains this resolution’s tendency to top the list.

2. Drink Less Alcohol.

As Americans vow to slash the fat from their diets, many also look to decrease their alcohol intake. The two appear intimately related as alcohol is often high in calories despite countless efforts to lighten the nutritional cost, while balancing a heavy emphasis on full flavor. However, this resolution also has an ominous feel as I recall prohibition (admittedly an extreme form of this resolution) was largely a failure. Either way, if successful, your liver will thank you, whether your sanity will too is up for debate.

3. Save more money.

Given the dire state of the economy, this resolution is expected and even more meaningful than in past years. Unfortunately, given rising costs and increasingly desperate living situations for many Americans, this resolution will remain one of the most difficult on the list.

4. Get a better job.

With unemployment at a painful high, this resolution reflects the hope for a better beginning and a more profitable year. Confined to a cubicle for far too long, many seek six-figure paychecks while others pine for self-employment. Regardless of the aim, we never tire of the American dream, leaving this resolution strongly rooted in its popularity and opting for payday loans for the unemployed from companies like Matched Loans.

5. Get a better education.

Not necessarily synonymous with the previous pursuit, this goal is perhaps a more difficult ordeal than any cabbage soup diet or strict budget plan. A time-consuming endeavor, this collective wish to achieve a higher degree fills out the ranks of colleges everywhere, if only temporarily.

6. Manage debt.

Paid programming and cheap commercials exploit this admirable desire of many Americans to cut their crippling credit card debt. To finally conquer this resolution requires steering clear of tempting scams and not springing for that new HDTV. Decisions, decisions.

7. Quit smoking.

This resolution actually transcends the singularly selfish nature of the list when considering the effects of secondhand smoke. Though there is nothing wrong with bettering one’s health, if you can’t do this for you, at least do it for your kids, your friend, your lover, your parents. Or all of them.

8. Take a trip.

This resolution has the beneficial quality of being incredibly vague. Without specifying an exotic locale, it can merely become a trip to the restroom or to work. Finally, fulfillment can ensue.

9. Help others.

Alas, another selfless goal surfaces. Perhaps near the end of our resolution writing it becomes abundantly clear that this extensive outline has somehow solely become about one person among billions, without considering the larger picture.

10. Reduce stress.

An affliction of every American, stress is a destructive force that forces us to overanalyze our imperfections and creates written records that detail every shortcoming of our lives. Don’t stress about this one. Seriously.

Despite my apparent pessimism, I actually enjoy the New Year. The concept of a fresh start is infectious and promising. But, upon this article, I discovered that my crumpled list should become even more rumpled and tossed into the trash can.

Echoing years of unaccomplished resolutions will never let me utilize a blank slate.

Instead, it is to be promptly replaced with a more manageable, succinct wish: Do what makes me and those I love truly happy, rather than chasing after a nonexistent state of perfection. Judging by the cyclical and predictable nature of this list, perhaps America should resolve to do the same.

I notice he had NO plans to come out to CA for an ‘event’. What is it that we’re the ‘red haired boy’ of speakers like this? They never seem to come out here.

I guess I can watch online and hear the podcasts, none of my local radio carries him either. I can’t get San Diego KFMB or the other one from northern CA.

I went to and if I strain hard, I can be out of debt in 1 1/2 years. More realistically would be 2 1/2-3 years. Hearing some of the callers makes me feel almost LUCKY to be where I am at. I earn maybe 6-10 times LESS than they do, and can still pay my bills much more easily and so far, do not have people coming ‘at’ me for high debts anymore. I’ll be free of it sooner than some anyhow.

One thing I did is remove all deductions other than single from my W2. I only earned $15,110 this last year (Not counting SSI ). I still owed $204 to the fed and $9 to the state this year. Hopefully removing those deductions will mean owing nothing or even a refund next year.

Hi! I have one credit card that dropped me to a collection agency. the amount has grown to $17K. I got a letter stating that “as per our agreement” they would settle for $12+K if I paid that amount in a few day. I have never spoken to them nor done an “as per our agreement” with them. could I still request a lower pay-off amount? for example can I say I only have $10K and will they accept this as a payoff amount. I actually don’t have the money but could try to borrow it from my BIL. What do you think? thanks!

Don’t be in such a hurry they bought the debt for about 50% or 8500 dollars so they are looking to make a quick deal and pull in 3500 in profit right away. Ask about a payment plan try to get them under 10% . I negotiated JCPenney to 0% on 3000 and Mastercard to 3.25% on 31000. I negotiated Citicard to 10% on 8000 and I am making substantial progress on all of them. Discover made no rectifying offers just enslavement at 18%. i have not paid them in 80 days and told them put it in the hands of a collection agency. Dumb or not dumb I am in the drivers seat because “I HAVE THEIR MONEY”.

I’ll be glad to pay them when the % comes to terms that are not going to get them thrown out of the Temple as the “moneychangers they are”. PS I was left holding this bag by an uncaring spouse who is now being divorced for selling me into slavery.
PS. they can not seize your retirement funds. Safeguard money in a 401k or another retirement plan.Possibly you can borrow from that to pay debt and then pay yourself back.

My experience with the two collection agencies I’ve dealt with is that if you communicate with them, they’ll generally work with you. Be nice but be firm, and offer some kind of payment plan. Don’t give any of your information over the phone (like bank account numbers or SS#) and if they get “salty” with you just ask to speak to a supervisor.

Usually, they’re pretty happy if they just have some money coming in, and you don’t have to pay everything at once. I’ve even heard of people settling the collection amount for less! Anyway, there may be some legal issues I’m not aware of, and others in the group might have some more knowledge.

I heard Dave Ramsey tell a story about someone who got a great used car (many years old) for $4,000 from an elderly aunt who had hardly ever driven it. I think finding deals like this one is somewhat a matter of luck, and not easy to find.

I only know of one way to shop for a used car, which is to go to my local dealership … I have been pretty fortunate – I bought two used cars from them in the past 18 years, and never had one minute’s trouble with either of them. My current car is just over 10 years old, only about 88,000 miles on it (I lived in NYC for a long time and hardly ever drove it there). But now that I’m living in snow country, and driving to work instead of taking the subway, so I’m starting to have to spend money every couple of months in repairs.

So now I’d like to replace the car sometime this year. I don’t want to spend $12-14,000, like I did my previous “gently” used cars. But I don’t know how else to shop for a car except at a dealership.

Does anyone have tips about other ways to find good deals on used cars? I’ve never been to an auction, and know nothing about mechanics.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Check around for local papers that advertise things for sale. In my area we’ve got a small paper (free) called Wheeler Deeler that mostly deals in used cars. I picked up a copy today at a gas station. I’m also looking for a decent car and want to spend between 2 & 3 thousand. There’s a few cars in that price range. So look at the gas station next time you fill up. See what kind of skinny little paper they have, it’s usually put with the regular newspapers or by the exit. Hope this helps.

I got my last car (the one I still drive) from a very anal person who kept terrific records. I then got the car inspected by two different mechanics (worth the money in my opinion) who gave it a clean bill of health.

The person who I bought the car from was very much the type of person who would make you take off your shoes to get into his car. Served me well. He got the oil changed every 1500 miles, took great care of the car, cleaned and vacuumed it regularly. Never smoked in it. Had it detailed before he sold it. Then, I purchased it through my local credit union. Get pre-approved first, if you are not paying cash for the car. Good luck!

car insurance

Call around to other auto body shops and see what they can do.
When my car was in an accident, the insurance company wanted the shop to repair it with used parts. However, I called a couple of dealerships who have various dealerships in their stable (Dodge, Toyota, GM) and they did the repairs for the same cost using NEW parts for my car, since they had easy access to them through their own network.
My car got repaired beautifully for the price the insurance company was willing to pay, but with NEW parts.
I don’t know about the other issues you raised.

Glad your daughter is fine.

If you want new parts that will probably cause the car to be totaled out. If so, they will give you a check for what they figure the value is less any loan balance and/or insurance deductible (if her insurance handles then seeks reimbursement from other insurance co.)

If you want to keep the car, you will have to buy it back from the insurance co and can than only carry liability insurance in the future. I’d say take the used doors, odds are once they are painted to match, you will not notice the difference. VIN numbers will not match regardless new or used parts. Good luck!

Been there and done that. If you keep the car, they will deduct the “salvage value” which could actually be a hefty sum. Ask them what they calculate that value to be.

Under other circumstances, I would say to check with your state laws. I learned something interesting from Clark Howard. In most states, their insurance must pay for a rental of equal size, their insurance must use new car parts if you so demand. This is true, even if their insurance company is the same as yours. It is different if your insurance policy is paying for your repairs.

You can however, challenge their amounts and threaten to sue them in small claims court if you believe they are under paying. Get the NADA, Kelly Blue Book, and the estimate for the car at retail and at private sale prices and compute an average. I am not an advocate of insurance fraud but I am also not one to let the insurance company walk all over me. I once bought a car for 1,000 and it was totalled a month later, the insurance company gave me 2,500 for the car and 750 for medical to get me to go away. Another time I had to get cash advance loan from to repair car myself and only after that I started waiting for insurance payment.


HI all, I have been seeing a lot of posts about the mortgages and the crisis we are under, I too am about to lose my home, 16 % interest???…….right…I will pay that right away….NOT>>.lol…. I am going out on a limb posting this message due to past experience doing so on here and getting hate mail in my personal mail box, by someone that thinks just because I have a job at the IRS, I must be responsible for all your taxes or something…..

Its just a job…just like yours….only mine is seasonal and I get laid off in June. (I get zero benefits, so don’t try to go there), but I want to try to help those that this infomation may help. those of you that want to send me hate mail and hate me because I have a job at the IRS, go ahead, this isn’t directed to you. This is called Domestic terrorism and we deal with it daily at the IRS. We send these cases to the big boys that carry the guns, You don’t want to mess with them. PLEASE note TS, Your messages will not make my spam blocker, so no need to try.

So anyway, to those of you that are fearing the tax liablility for your mortgage forgiveness fear not…Help has come.

.. Dec. 20th 2007 Mortgage Forgiveness Debt RElief Act of 2007 was enacted. Taxpayers may exclude debt forgiven on their principal residence if the balance of their loan was less than 2 million$. The limit is 1 million$ for a married person filing a seperate return. Details are on form 982 and its intsructions availble now on IRS.Gov. I am sending this info to help… I hope it will….good luck you all…I’m hearing you and its so nice to have a sounding board with you all. I am in a pickle worse than I have seen on here so far.

Thank you for the Info. I dont hate you and I promise no hate mail… =) I do understand – I work for a wireless phone company and when people find out they yell at me bc their cell phone does not work like i did it..LOL Thank you for doing the job you do!!

I am also fighting with my mortgage company to keep my house. Grrrr.. So far I am on a repayment plan and so far so good – we shall see. I am looking into refinancing but not sure.


Citigroup is getting nasty. While I was out last night they tried to leave a summons with my girlfriend (who has nothing to do with the account). The envelope with the summons was sticking in the door hanging out in the rain.

Is this proper or can I claim I was not properly served or something like that?

I wouldn’t think that is a proper summons, I would think that you would have to be handed that personally, but I’m no expert. I received a summons a week and a half ago and it was from a county Sheriff personally. It should be interesting to see if anyone else has some other insight. Good luck to you. Mine was from Capital One, it sucks having to go down this road.

Still in some states, you do not have to be served personally, posting on your door at your place of residence is considered duly served. Best to check with an attorney in your area to be sure what is appropriate for your area.

Just wondering, how far behind was you before they served the sunnons? I think I am going to be in the same situation. I appreciate the info. Good luck to you.

From what I read of it, they say three years. To be honest, I was so annoyed and was so busy with work I didn’t look at it yet. I’m going to check it out in the next day or so if you want to check back with me next week.

Mine had been turned over to a collection agency for over 6 months and I made a $10.00 payment back in November, we cut off our regular phone and they weren’t able to contact me so then they served the papers. I talked to the law firm who is doing the lawsuit after I got served and he said they had been trying to contact me and since they couldn’t reach me they served the summons and said they are still willing to work with me, but we are going to file bankruptcy.

My attorney advised me on how to respond to the summons and it will buy me a little time, hopefully enough to avoid garnishment or other actions. The lawyer told me that interest is accruing at $5.00 a day so that is 150 a month in just interest so I would probably need to give them at least 200 a month but I can’t even afford that so I am praying that we can get filed quick enough to avoid legal action from them.

I have a question for anyone. I was able to settle all debts w/ either the collection agencies or the credit card company. except Citibank. they want to take me to court. their lawyer also said if i dont pay them ( i dont have enough to pay in full. the debt is 5K) that if i dont pay them. they can have me arrested. is that true?

NO! They cannot arrest you. What will happen though is your wages will be garnished. They can take up to 25% of your gross pay each paycheck until the debt is satisfied. They may also be in trouble for telling you that you could be arrested. That is illegal.

If that threat came from a lawyer, you can report him/her to the state bar, and if was someone claiming to be a lawyer who is not, the bar would be interested in that also.

I wrote a little bit ago about a collection agency that was hounding me for a 17K debt. they had agreed to settle for 12+K.

after posting about this situation on this list you guys encouraged me to work the payoff amount down. I got them down to $9200. it was so easy I wish I had persisted in negotiating it even lower. but I am happy with this outcome.

my BIL tell me though that I will have to pay income tax on the difference between the 17K and the 9K since it will be looked at as an income or a finacial windfall. is that true?

thanks for your encoragement. I would have been too nervous to do it on my own. you guys really helped me with ideas on how to approach this.


It probably depends on individual circumstances. Wells Fargo “forgave” a debt that my mother couldn’t pay since she passed away. I just received some kind of tax form indicating miscellaneous income for the forgiveness of this debt. It was only a little under $4000 so no big deal.

Is a big deal. You yourself are not respomsable for her debts. Write ‘deceased’ on the bills they send to HER and take no responsibility for them at all.

When my dad died, I got threats from an attourney and I told them nuh-uh… They’ve left me alone. If they wanted to sue me or something, they really could not being that I was on straight SSI. It is possible they will send you a 1099 for the difference. If they do, then and only then will you need to pay taxes on it.

You do have to pay income tax on the difference. My mom, co-signed for a furniture loan for my brother who never paid the loan. When collection agencies started calling my mother, my mother agreed to pay a reduced amount. A couple of years later she was contacted by the IRS demanding she pay an income tax on the difference between the amount owed and the amount paid.

You, as your parents heirs, are not responsible for their credit card debts after they die. There is a formal method to how debts are paid after someone dies. They can seize the assets and sell them to pay the debts, but once that money is gone, anyone left over is pretty much ass out.

Basically, any old taxes will be paid, then things trickle down. I used to know this by heart, as my mother dealt with it years ago, but you are not responsible for any debt unless you shared it. For instance, did you own the house with your parents? i.e., Homeowners are Sally (mother) and Dorothy (daughter). In that case, they can come after you. Same with credit cards and other loans. If you are the actual debtor, it can transfer to you after the death of the other party. If you are just an authorized user on a credit card, you are free.

In my case, dad and I had a living trust and were trustees. When he died, I took over the house and such. Due to ignorance, and also a sense of right, I did take one of his cards and paid it, as I ran most of the debt up. That’s the one that is paid off now.

Oh I meant that the amount wasn’t a big deal. By the time I take deductions and whatever, there’s no taxable income. I did put deceased on all her bills and wrote letters with copies of her death certificate. The ONLY company to keep pushing to make a claim on her “estate” was Citibank.


What is the first step to make or take; when everything seems so pointless? I am struggling with the mortgage crisis and not sure what to do right now. Any advise?

Do you have savings in place? Do you have a written budget? If not, those are two things I’d work on immediately. The second one can be done without money… just put it all on paper! Have you called your mortgage company yet and tried to work out a forbearance agreement/repayment plan? I got 2 or 3 payments behind a while ago and they worked with me, especially since I made sure to keep in contact with them and I was able to set up a repayment plan that spread my past dues over a 6 month time period. It made my payment about 250 more per month and it has been hard for us but I don’t want to lose the house. We fell behind because of job changes that my husband made.

First, realize that there is a way out. If you pray, do it. God is up 24/7 so don’t worry.

Then, sit down and be brutally honest about your current financial situation.

What do you have available? What needs to be paid? Do you have any money you can get to right now? Savings? Sell some things? Borrow it?

You need the roof over your head. You need to eat. You need your utilities to work.

When do you need the next payment and what is it for? You may have to let some things slide so you can handle the priorities. See above.

Skip the credit card payments for the time being. Pay your mortgage. Skip eating out, if you do. No more daily newspapers. No more buying lunch. Pack it. PB&J will fill your stomach. Ramen noodles are not just for college kids. Boil some eggs.

You must address your immediate needs. Provide a bit more information please.

Your posts always are right on, you are very good, do you do this for a living??

No. I don’t do this for a living. I am just so determined to get out of debt. I finally “tired for myself” as my great-grandmother used to say.

I have been reading everything that I can get my hands on, listening to Dave Ramsey on his new t.v. show, reading books from the library, web postings on MSNBC, USA Today, abc news (Melody Hobson), Today (Jean Chatzky), etc. I just want to be free!

I set up a savings account and set it up to automatically receive money from my paychecks. That way, there will be something saved and I don’t have to think about it. I have found in the past that SOMETHING tends to come up and I would not move the money over to savings. I am hoping that doing it automatically and painlessly will help.

I tell people all the time that it is your paycheck, if you want to cash it into $1 bills and burn it in the driveway, that is your right. It is your money after all.

However, when you have debts, it seems like you are constantly thinking “I get paid on Friday and I have to pay this and this and that and this” and you think “What’s the point?” I don’t want to live like that. I don’t want to have to think about every little purchase. I don’t want to calculate the grocery list weeks in advance in order to afford what I want to feed my family. I am fine with coupons and use them regularly.

Shopping on sale is terrific. I am all for it, but I am sure there are other people like myself. You think about things in terms like “this paycheck is for the car payment”; “that paycheck is for the car insurance, mortgage, daycare, and shoes for this family member (can’t get everyone’s shoes at the same time)”. You think about what will have to be shifted if you “splurge” and buy this or that when it was not originally on your list.

That is no way to live. If I see that blouse or that jacket or some toy for my child on sale and I want it, I want to feel free to get it. Life should not be just about paying bills. So, our family is a work in progress. On December 31, 2015, I fully intend to be tied to a lot less debt than we were on January 1, 2015.

used cars

“finance for dummies” says buying a car on credit is one of the worst financial decisions you can make, so I doubt that qualifies as “good credit”.

I wasn’t thinking that buying a car with a credit card was a good idea,I was thinking that making a down payment and financing a car and making payments on time would be good for your credit. Does Dave Ramsay think that buying a car with a down payment and making your payments on time is a bad idea? I am just curious, as I can’t buy anything and have terrible credit, I was just thinking about my future – please let me know if you get a chance.

Dave Ramsey says on his t.v. show all the time to save up for car purchases. If you have to, get some $2500 car, just to get by with until you are debt free. If necessary, when it dies, get another one, just don’t finance them. Then, when you are finally debt free, save up and buy a car outright.

Personally, I am all for used cars in great condition. I fully intend to pay off the current one and later, save up for the next one so I can pay for it in cash at the time of purchase, rather than financing it.

Dave always says that he does not borrow money. (Financing a car is borrowing money.)