11 September 2008

Financial-ness

While there's some debate as to whether or not we're in a recession, no one can argue that things are not the best they've ever been. At least some people are having some problems, no doubt about it. A lot of people have tried a lot of different ways to clear up their debt, including refinancing their mortgage or home equity loan, taking out a consolidation loan, or debt settlement options (settling credit obligations for less than the full amount owed, in an agreement with the credit issuer). The idea in most cases is that if you consolidate debt, there will only be one bill to pay. At least this way you're not juggling a dozen different payment amounts and due dates, right? Bills.com can help you do that!

The first solution that always occurs to me when I hear of people struggling with debt is credit counseling. I used to work as a credit counselor, so I know that a good debt management program (DMP) can be a lifesaver for some people. The catch? The program only works if you work it. In other words, if someone signs up for a DMP but then doesn't make their agreed payments to the credit counseling agency? Their creditors won't get paid. Your debt management program pays your debts with your money. The benefit to you is that the credit counseling agency usually has agreements with creditors to reduce or eliminate interest rates and frequently stop recurring late fees or overlimit fees. These breaks can often give someone a chance to get back ahead of the game.

If debt is something you're struggling with, consider credit counseling. If debt isn't a struggle yet, be sure you're setting aside part of your money as savings. You never know when things may take an unexpected turn, and savings can be the safety net to keep your debt from landing you in trouble!

2 comments:

J.C. said...

I strongly agree with you, B. We would never have gotten out of debt had we not enrolled in an automatic-debit counseling program, and also had we not used the snowball method (applying the monthly payment from a paid-off card to the next card w/ the highest balance/rate, etc.). In fact, just this week we were able to close our account with our counseling program after 4 years!

siteseer said...

In the olden days they used to say to spend less than you make. Unfortunately, once you're in the situation it's hard to get out. Good thing there are programs out there to help.