Debt consolidating,the very term strikes fear into the hearts of anyone looking to begin this monumental undertaking. Most people have at least a dozen accounts (many find themselves with a few dozen). Some of their accounts are delinquent,closed,charged off,behind,etc. Stacks of unopened account statements,and collection notices pile up in the kitchen and office. What are you going to do now? First,take a deep breathe,you have already taken the first step in taking action to relieve your debt stress by looking for information and getting organized.
Not to say there isn’t a long road ahead,however,facing the music will be the hardest part,trust me,I’ve been there. In 2005 I found myself $25,000,operating a failing mortgage business,looking at foreclosure and could not see a way out. Fortunately,I was able to work through the system,get my bills under control,and now have a manageable debt to income load and have some hard fought tips on how to get back to living within your means. You can start this process with a debt consolidation. Follow these steps and you will find yourself on the right path sooner then you think.
Debt Consolidating Step One – Gather your financial information
Remember all of those bills piling up around the house I referenced earlier? Yup,going to have to plow through these. I suggest if you know how to use a spreadsheet you consider this an opportunity to increase your skills. The beauty is you only have to find the most recent statements from all of your accounts so you can shred the months (if not years) of all the other accounts. Make sure to include checking and savings account information as well as any debt consolidation company is going to need to look at your ability to pay regardless of the balances. From here on out you will be best served to keep track of your accounts because starting now,you are taking control of your financial future. I would suggest getting this information together as quickly as possible,as it will be a stressful,emotional process best suited for a weekend set aside to plow through it quickly and move into the next stage,checking into the types of debt consolidation programs available.
Debt Consolidating Step Two – Choosing the type of consolidation institution
OK,toughest part over and done. You know where you stand regarding your balances and the size of prize awaiting your dedicated action towards financial success. Let’s take a look at what to consider when deciding on the next course of action,the debt consolidation. Credit status is going to plan a significant part in your strategy moving forward.
Two Scenarios for Debt Consolidation: Good vs. Bad Credit
Good credit (700 & above) may allow you to get a credit card with a low or no interest rate to transfer your accounts balances over to. If you have the ability to pay this new,lower payment,you may be able to avoid additional interest charges! You can pull your credit score from reliable sites such as FreeCreditReport.com.
Another option if you have less then great credit,you may be able to open a line of credit. This can be a risky business however,since the temptation of spending this line on other things then debt consolidation exists and you can find yourself worse off then before. This strategy can sometimes offer better interest rates and terms then a credit card. Along the same lines,student loans offer outstanding interest rates,but you would have to BE a student to take advantage of this.
Lastly,there are the professional debt consolidators. These are the organizations,non-profit or for profit,that have decades of experience in negotiating with major creditors. Once you find one you like,they will be a buffer between you and your creditors,handling negotiations,balance reductions,payment arrangements,the whole shooting match. If you want the quickest,most painless way to handle the debt crisis,these are the guys to go to. Just to be clear,whether they are for profit or not for profit,the company will charge a fee to handle your problem,however,if you are currently paying hundreds of dollars in late fees on several accounts right now,$40 bucks a month for you to stop receiving collector calls and seeing you balances shoot the roof may be acceptable.
Debt Consolidating Step Three – Shopping for a debt consolidation Company
So know you should know where you stand,whether your score is still hanging in there,or it found a gigantic hole in the floor,you are now armed with the information on what to do next. When you start moving forward with your debt strategy,make sure to shop around. I’m sure you will be excited when you find the company or strategy says ‘YES’ to helping you out,but if there is one company out there,there is most likely another competing for your business. There are going to be variations in terms,interest rates,fees,etc to consider,hence your spreadsheet practice from the first step comes in handy.
A few more of the details to consider would be whether the interest rate adjusts at some point (IE adjustable rate mortgages) and if there are upfront fees. Both of these factors have the ability to throw a nice shiny wrench into your plans if you aren’t careful. However,at this point,you are getting dangerously close to taking the freeway to reducing your debt,make sure you stay aware of the pit stops along the way just waiting to take your newly found self confidence away!
Debt Consolidating Step Four – Choosing an established debt consolidation company
I’m going to assume at this point you either don’t have the credit to get the line,loan,or credit card and have little choice but to go with a debt consolidation company. Trust me,this is better than bankruptcy regardless of what you might hear. The stress relief of having your debts handled by professionals is quite close to priceless.
The bottom line here is make sure you choose a company that’s been around the block,has relationships with major creditors and a positive track record of reducing unsecured debts (such as credit cards) by 40% or better.-