From dishwashers to debt, readers of this blog ask great questions. And if statistics can be trusted, we know that for each one who asks there are 999 others who have the same question but just haven’t gotten around to asking, yet!
Do you have any suggestions for cleaning the inside of a dishwasher? I have seen packaged cleaners in the supermarket, but are they worth the money? Kelly
Dear Kelly: While I’m a big fan of Glisten Dishwasher Magic Cleaner for that once-a-year major dishwasher cleaning, I do have a super-cheap solution that works really well for routine maintenance.
Divide the contents of three packets between the two detergent cups. Run the dishwasher empty on the hottest, longest cycle. Lemonade Kool-Aid is loaded with citric acid, which will remove rust, hard water build-up and soap scum—leaving the dishwasher sparkling clean. Just know that lemonade is the only Kool-Aid flavor that works for this task.
It’s a long story. In a nutshell, I ran up more than a few credit card accounts (OK, seven), lost my job and stopped making payments. Now all of those accounts have been charged off. Can these creditors still come after me? I no longer hear from any of them or from any collections companies, either. Is it possible that I just don’t owe the money? Name withheld
Dear NW: It does make sense that you no longer owe the money. After all, if your debt has been “charged off,” it sure sounds like it went away, right? And it did—just not away from you.
Accounting practices and tax laws allowed your lender to move that debt from asset status to bad debt, which could then be written off. Even though those accounts have been charged off the lender’s books, you still owe the money, technically.
While statutes of limitation vary from one state to the next, in the most basic terms, a debt is owed until it is paid.
In addition to damaging your credit score, an unpaid charge-off can really hurt you when applying for a mortgage, renting an apartment or competing for a job. A charge-off is one level above a bankruptcy. Most businesses are leery of someone with any long-term, unpaid credit accounts.
Many will overlook a previous history with late payments if you eventually paid what you owed, but usually, they’re less forgiving if you did not.
Your charged-off accounts will remain on your credit reports for seven years and then must be removed under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. So, if you decide not to pay (there is some question as to whether the creditors can even accept payment once the debts are written off), you will have to wait seven years from the date of the last activity on those accounts for the charge-off(s) to no longer affect you.
You made a mistake and hopefully learned some things that will prevent you from making the same mistake in the future. The best way to move forward is to learn how to manage a paycheck and how to live below your means so you don’t fall into the debt trap again.
I can’t think of a better way for you to do that than by reading my book, Debt-Proof Living. It’s my own story, which in many ways reflects yours, together with the steps I took to get out of debt and stay out. I hope you will read it.