Just as I decided to get serious about paying down my debt and building wealth, wouldn’t you know it that I would get an unexpected call from a debt collector?
The man on the phone told me they had just purchased my debt from a hospital which I had been seen at back in 2015. Yes, that’s right, more than 2 years ago! I couldn’t even remember what I had been seen for (perhaps that’s because I was seen for a concussion? lol). I hadn’t received any medical bills that I could recall (I moved not long after the accident occurred) and now I was finding out hat I had a bill in collections in the amount of $382!! Ugggh!
The man on the phone asked if I could pay the bill. I told him I’d already made my budget for the month and that bill was unknown. He asked if I would like to make a payment plan. I hesitated to answer, and he quickly remarked that my account was eligible for a 20% discount if I would set up a payment plan that day. I still answered no.
I asked him to email me with details of the debt owed as I had not seen a medical bill. He said that he would send it. He then called me THREE times that afternoon, but I ignored the call as I was at work. That evening he called again and he offered me the 20% discount. The thing is, I’d had a full day to process our conversation. I thought “if this is already in collections, then I am not in any hurry to pay this off”. Having no urgency gave me a sense of boldness. I figured the damage had already been done to my credit at this point.
I told the collections man that I was prepared to offer $250 and no more (his offer stood at $305). He said “no, I’m only authorized to offer you 20%”. I explained to the man that I had major back surgery last year, and I was currently working on paying off thousands of dollars to the hospital, so if he was unwilling to take my offer of $250, then I would simply move his bill to the back of the list and he would need to wait until I paid off all the bills ahead of this one! (Whoa! Who said that?? Me??).
He quickly said “I’ll get my supervisor”. The Super got on the phone, and I explained again. He immediately agreed to the settlement of $250! Imagine that!?! I saved more than $130 just by holding fast to MY OWN TERMS. I set the rate and didn’t budge! You have to understand, this is VERY unlike me…but WOW, it sure did feel empowering!!
So the next time a debt collector calls you, stand firm. You have more power to negotiate than you may realize! You ARE a Single Mama Super Saver!