Debt solutions are a top priority for many Americans. The recession has forced many people to reassess their priorities and take control of personal finance. The only way to overcome mountains of debt is to develop a get out of debt plan and commit to sticking to it.
A variety of debt solutions exist. The type of strategy used depends on the types of debts involved. Debt relief can be obtained through household budgeting, credit counseling, debt consolidation, debt settlement, or personal bankruptcy.
Each option presents advantages and disadvantages. Not all options are available to everyone. For example, debt consolidation is usually reserved for property owners with accrued home equity. Some programs, such as credit counseling and debt settlement require debtors to pay fees for services rendered.
Debtors carrying minimal amounts of debt may find relief through household budgeting. This can be an effective way to get personal finances back on track, as long as debtors adhere to the plan. The only requirements of budgeting involve making a list of income vs. expenses. If expenses are more than income, debtors must find a way to increase income or reduce expenses.
People oftentimes do not realize how much money they waste. Nickel-and-dime expenses can quickly destroy a household budget and leave debtors wondering where their money has gone. An easy way to reveal spending habits is to track every penny spent for an entire month.
Consumers who use credit cards to cover the cost of living expenses and only pay minimum payments will be enslaved to credit card debt for eternity. Creating a workable budget can free up funds being spent elsewhere and allow debtors to pay off credit cards more quickly.
Debt consolidation is a strategy that allows property owners to use their real estate as collateral to secure a home equity loan. Some homeowners take out a second mortgage to pay off high interest loans, while others use a home equity line of credit (HELOC).
Transferring high-interest debts to a home equity loan can save borrowers a considerable amount in interest fees. Real estate loans are assessed between 5- and 18-percent less than credit cards or unsecured loans. However, using real estate as collateral can place the property at risk for foreclosure if borrowers default on loan terms.
Debt settlement is typically reserved for borrowers carrying $10,000 or more in debts. Debt settlers negotiate with creditors to reduce outstanding balances or interest rates. Consumers may first want to attempt creditor negotiations on their own. Creditors will sometimes accept less than the amount owed when debtors can provide lump sum cash payment and a reasonable payment plan.
Debtors who enlist the help of debt settlement companies are required to pay a start-up fee and monthly maintenance fee until debts are fully paid. There is no guarantee that debt settlers will be successful in creditor negotiations.
It is important to conduct due diligence before signing a debt settlement contract. Consumers should request a list of referrals and contact each of them. It is also important to understand fee structures and calculate the true cost of services. Debt settlement can be a costly debt solution if caution is not exercised.
Credit counseling can be a good option for debtors struggling to make ends meet. Credit counselors can review finances and offer advice regarding the most suitable debt solution. Individuals can locate credit counselors via phone directories, online search, or through the Trustee Program offered through the U.S. Department of Justice.
Regaining control of debt may seem impossible, but can be accomplished with the right resources and tools. Take time to research available debt relief options to determine which is best suited for your needs. Then make a plan to eradicate debt once and for all.
Trustee Program Credit Counselors