Do it on my own??? Where to start?

We have approximately 33K in credit card debt. We have done our best to stay current on our payments – but it’s been at the price of not being able to pay our regular living bills. THEN we end up buying necessities (food, gas) on the credit cards…and now their maxed…and so the ball rolls…

Anyway, I’ve been looking for a debt management company to work with but after I check them out, they always seem to be some sort of dubious effort to take advantage of someone in a time of hardship. My husband and I would really like to go about it on our own.

We have diligently gone through a monthly budget that we can handle. We wanted to start off calling our smallest credit card and seeing if they would settle and then go on from there. HOWEVER, we don’t have much built up to settle with yet, so any extra money sent to go toward a settlement will end up keeping us from being able to pay the minimum payment on the other higher amount credit cards as we go. Our concern is what will happen with those accounts while we are working on paying down/negotiating the smaller ones.

Does sending partial payments help? Should we contact them in writing and ask them to go ahead and close the account and waive fees? Or should we wait on that?

We are about 1 month past due on most of are cards at this point, so I know it won’t be worth negotiating with the larger ones until later. I also think that after we pay off the smaller ones (and get our tax return!) that we may be able to do a ‘snowball’ payment plan to pay off the remaining debt – but how much interest/late/overlimit fees would have mounted up by then???

Are we going about this all wrong? Sorry for all of the questions… I would just like some thoughts as to our idea to approach our situation. We really want to avoid bankruptcy if possible.

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