Debt is arguably the greatest plague in our society today, it has a way of creeping up on us if we let it. It’s crucial to keep debt manageable and reasonable in order not to incur painfully large interest charges or struggle to make our payments. Even for those who manage debt well, unexpected life changes can result in difficulty making ends meet.
When debt seems to overcome our lives the first course of action is to take a look at the budget. Finding unnecessary expenses to cut back on can help us pay down debts and keep monthly bills current if we aren’t in too bad of a situation. But what happens when we can’t solve our debt problems with budgeting?
Sometimes we need outside professional help. It’s hard to admit when you’re having money troubles and to go to someone else, but if you don’t gain control over your debts, your credit rating will suffer and you might live the rest of your working life trying to get out. So it is important to take control and make a change before it’s too late.
Some debtors turn to consolidating their debt as an answer to debt problems. Others may even consider bankruptcy. What they do is transfer high-interest debts to a lower interest credit card, or they put up the equity in their homes to get the money to pay them off. While these options can provide lower payments, they are not without drawbacks. Closing numerous accounts and putting all of your debt into one account can negatively affect your ratio of debt to available credit, lowering your credit score. And if you use your home equity to secure the money needed to pay off debt, you’re putting your home at an unnecessary risk.
The most popular option for those with debt problems is credit counseling. Credit counseling agencies offer help with budgeting, and in some cases, they will set you up with a debt management plan. A debt management plan involves negotiation with creditors to obtain lower interest rates and lower payments. The debtor makes one monthly payment to the credit counseling agency, and the agent forwards payments to each creditor.
A debt management plan can help you get out of debt faster, but it can also impact your credit. A note is added to your credit report stating that you are undergoing credit counseling. This means that you can’t get new credit. However, the notation is removed once you’ve paid off your debts.
An overabundance of debt can wreak havoc on our finances and our credit scores. It can also be the cause of undue stress. By seeking help at the first sign of trouble, we can often prevent our debts from spiraling out of control.