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I wouldn't exactly call this a "winning from debt" story as I don't feel remotely like a winner. More like an idiot for getting into this much debt in the first place. I just settled $55,000 worth of credit card debt today for a little over $17,000. I didn't use a settlement company as I figured I needed whatever their fee would be to add to my pitiful cash on hand to pay the creditors. It took months of harassing phone calls, avoiding phone calls (haven't answered our land line without screening for months), phone calls to our cell phones and our places of employment and finally, phone calls to our family members living in different residences (my mother-in-law was freaked out to say the least :) We've also received many, many letters of doom and gloom and were served papers from Chase. To say it's been stressful is putting it mildly. Companies were Bank of America (two accounts), Chase (three accounts), and AT& T Citibank. I still have a Discover Card but I ran out of available cash having exhausted every source and am unable to make a settlement. The hardship payment at a low interest rate is manageable, so not too bad. Have always payed everything on time until my husband took a loss in income a year ago. On the advice of financial professionals, just payed our survival bills (house, electricity, insurance etc.) and let the credit cards go by the wayside Went to Consumer Credit Counseling, nice people by the way, who told us to declare bankruptcy since we were cash poor but decided to hold off and try to settle ourselves. The credit card companies tried every trick in the book to get us to pay in full or to pay really high settlements but the thing was, as I told them over and over (calmly, most of the time :), the amount of cash I have available is finite. There isn't any other avenue to get any more cash. Yes, our credit is shot but it will recover someday maybe and at this point, I couldn't care less about the credit. With the current state of the economy and so many people out of work, I figure I'm just one of many with poor credit. The most important thing is my family has some peace. We can live within our means and still be okay. We have no credit cards (Discover is closed) and don't need them. My debit card is also a Visa which is accepted everywhere. My land line hasn't rang since I got off the phone with Chase at 10:30 this morning and I just feel so much better that I can wake up tomorrow without this financial black cloud hanging over my head. The best of luck to those of you struggling with debt and I wish all a financially healthy New Year!

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