Unsecured debts (especially credit card debt) got you down? Yes, it’s true, the winding tunnel of debt seems to get deeper and deeper due to late fees, high interest rates, and assorted penalties (the credit card companies are great at coming up with new ones all the time!) On the one hand you are bombarded by the credit card industry’s direct mail marketing machine sucking you in even deeper with new card offers and on the other hand they crush you with fees.
How do we get out of this debt situation?
Well, of course there’s the obvious answers like save more, stop buying Starbucks every day, cut up your credit cards, etc. Sure, that’s all well and good but it may still take you 10+ years of living frugally to pay off what you owe. I don’t know about you but 10 years is a long time. What are the more drastic methods people use to speed up the process?
Own a home? Then continue reading (if not jump down to point number 2 below.) The cleanest and easiest way to replace high interest rate debt with more manageable low interest rate debt (thus a lower payment) is to refinance your home and use the equity to pay off your credit card debt. This is not a big secret but it must be discussed anyway.
2. Debt Management Programs
You’ve seen the TV ads for the “non-profit debt consolidation and credit counseling services” right?Well, these services are able to combine all your unsecured debts into 1 monthly payment with a lower interest rate and fee structure. They do much more than just collect your money and redistribute it. Most good debt management companies also offer a great amount of ongoing support and financial education so you stay out of debt once they help to get you there.
Think of this service a giant helping hand that eases the pain of your debt, reduces the collection calls, and provides you with assistance as you need it to pay down your debt in about half the time that you’d realistically be able to do it on your own. Also your credit is typically restored in the process.
3. Debt Settlement Programs
Now for the most drastic option: debt settlement. Of course, as with everything in life, the fastest way to reduce your monthly payment is also most radical choice. Why? Because debt settlement is a process in which you stop paying your bills to your creditors. Instead you make monthly payments into a trust account and once the money accumulates to a certain point, your debt settlement company will negotiate with your creditors. So for instance, if you owe $15,000 on a credit card they may approach that company once you have $7000 in your trust account and offer it as a final payment for the entire outstanding amount of $15,000. This means you do not have to pay the remaining $8000 you owe.
This is great but it has its risks and drawbacks. Namely, your credit score will be damaged throughout this process and the amount you save depends on the quality of your settlement company. You need a reputable and reliable debt settlement company with good relationships with the major creditors. However, for many people, the quickest path to debt freedom is worth the price you have to pay.