If the word “debt” gives you an uneasy feeling, it’s time to do something about it. No one should have to live with that pit in the bottom of their stomach. So what can you do if you’re drowning in debt?
Here’s how to win with debt relief programs.
Talk to a Credit Counselor
If you want to have the best chance of being successful with getting out of debt, talking to a credit counselor should be your first step. Credit counseling is designed to help consumers struggling with their debt understand what options are available. Many credit-counseling services operate as independent non-profits. Certain debt relief agencies also have a credit-counseling branch.
There are a few key things to keep in mind when working with a credit counselor:
- The idea behind credit counseling is it should be a way to get free or affordable information and materials related to getting out of debt. Legitimate services don’t ask for money up front.
- Credit counselors can help with basic services such as creating a budget or getting a copy of your credit report.
- They might recommend you for a debt management plan, or refer you to another agency that will better serve your needs.
There aren’t many downsides to speaking to a credit counselor beyond it taking up some of your time. Even if this isn’t your final stop to getting out of debt, they can set you on the right path.
Understand Your Situation and Your Options
Talking to a credit counselor can be a huge help in getting a better idea of what’s available. Most people are unfamiliar with this world and its many twists and turns. While speaking to someone directly will help clarify outstanding questions, here are the main options you have when looking at debt relief:
- Debt Management Plans: These are set up through a credit counseling or debt relief agency by negotiating more reasonable terms with your creditors. You then pay back a single, consolidated loan to the agency instead of all your lenders individually.
- Debt Settlement: With debt settlement, you send money to a debt relief agency, which keeps it in a dedicated account. This is then used as a bargaining chip to get your lenders to agree to a single payment settlements in full instead of your original loan obligation.
- Bankruptcy: While not always viewed as a debt relief program, bankruptcy is arguably the highest form of debt relief. That, however, doesn’t make it good for your finances. Bankruptcy ruins your credit and stays on your record for years. Avoid this if possible.
Choose a Vetted Debt Relief Program
Like with all things in life, the company you choose to keep is going to make a big difference when it comes to affordable debt relief programs. Not all agencies are the same. In fact, not all of them even put your best interests first.
It’s important to take the time to research debt relief programs to determine which are the most reliable and highly respected in the industry. Freedom Debt Relief, for example, has a strong history of helping consumers beat their debt, often within 24 to 48 months. They were recently recognized by Investopedia for having the best interactive program for a debt relief company.
You’re not going to have a good time if you’re not honest with yourself about what you can reasonably afford when it comes to paying down your debt. If you formulate a plan or agree to a contract that you simply can’t complete, you’re only hurting yourself.
You need to be honest with yourself when you’re going through a debt relief program. Of course you want to be out of debt. Everyone does. It’s only going to make things harder for you if you try something that’s bound to fail though. Save yourself a lot of time and heartache by choosing the best debt relief path the first time.
There’s nothing enjoyable about carrying around debt. But it can be even worse having to confront it. Consider these ways you can mitigate some of the pain of debt relief and set yourself up for success.