The Most Effective Debt Management Solutions

So, you’ve found yourself in debts that you cannot control, and aren’t sure what to do. For that matter, you’re not sure if you really want to trust your finances to one of the debt management companies you’ve seen advertised or heard friends and co workers talking about. There are other possibilities, of course. Play the lottery, wait for some unremembered relative to grant an undeserved bounty, consider the value of the baseball cards cluttering the basement, or, simply, dig your head in the sand and avoid all worries about the credit card bills piling on the floor. In all likelihood, they’ll have about the same chance of success in terms of debt management. Easy enough to imagine that things will work themselves out without drastic changes in your household spending or overall behavioral alterations as regards buying habits, but – save some miraculous gift of fortune – the creditors shall inevitably get theirs no matter the attempts toward purposeful ignorance. This is where debt management comes in. When dealing with a competent and trustworthy firm, after all, you don’t have to worry about surrendering your problems to an external force. Debt management counselors will work with the borrowers hand in hand to aid them in their struggles and completely explain every step along the way.

At the same point, however, there are steps that can be taken before you first begin investigating debt management authorities. The businesses you eventually work with should even expect you to start looking through your financial obligations and making some decisions by yourself. After all, throughout the debt management process, there are certain rules of thumb that every borrower should thoroughly understand and guidelines that each household, regardless of how much money they may make or how tragic their financial status may be, should acknowledge. Think of the overall theory of debt management as a simplified flow chart. Eventual debt elimination should be the focus, of course. Aside from those secured loans such as home mortgages (which could reasonably be considered an investment) and the one or two credit cards every consumer should have (with low balances, paid monthly, to heighten credit ratings and FICO numbers), the goal of debt management is, after all, an end to debt.

To that end, until you’ve recorded all of the information from every creditor, you really don’t know just what your debt situation is. Take the time to write down every important aspect of your credit card accounts (alongside whichever additional debts you may have accumulated) and put all of the obligations in order from the lowest interest rate to the highest. In most cases, you will want to pay off the highest interest rates first, of course, but there are other theories as to debt elimination – some debt specialists would advise taking care of the smallest balances before all else so as to provide positive reinforcement and propel the borrowers forward through their debt relief mission. Through all of this, of course, you have to still make sure that the minimum payments for each account will be satisfied every month on time. Ideally, your checks should even be sent early enough ahead so as to prevent the lenders from delaying processing of the payments and assessing further penalties or lowering your credit reports status. Also, much as you should remember to concentrate upon the debt with the highest interest rate (and, after that’s done, work to pay off the next highest and continue in that pattern), you should not neglect the everyday costs of living nor avoid saving for unexpected expenses.

When thinking about debt management, there are more things to consider than just paying down the outstanding credit card balances. No matter what, especially in the current economy, you’ll need to also consider those day to day expenses like gas and electricity and all of the other monthly bills. While it’s true that, compared to the immediate action that results from missing a revolving debt payment, utility companies will be far more relaxed in their collection attempts. Since the majority of the utilities have to worry about some local government supervision, which means political repercussions should borrowers be left to freeze to death, they are remarkably malleable when forgiving a month or two of missed payments (without reporting such to the credit bureaus). Still, you have to remember, there will come a point where the utility company will have no choice but to halt services, and, above and beyond the effects upon your credit rating, that can come as a drastic, perhaps life threatening hazard to be avoided at all costs. You can’t work on your books if there aren’t any lights. Also, you need remember, once any utility service has been terminated, there will be additional charges to have that service to be restored. These are the sorts of what may seem like trifling costs that unwary or lazy borrowers let regularly accrue, and there couldn’t be anything sillier than paying double the monthly bill (let’s face it, you’re going to want your water service restored) due to a week’s avoidance of responsibility. Like most every thing involving debt management, you need to speak regularly with the representatives of the people that you send your money to as to avoid any future complications should problems arise. These utility companies are uniquely open to payment schedules that minimize borrower obligations and let their less fortunate clients lapse their burdens for length periods. For those especially poor off candidates, the government may even step in to subsidize some utility payments. This might sound humiliating to a degree, but debt management has its own momentum and, once again, there are certainly more grave consequences.

Above all else, desperate borrowers must remember to keep sight of the real dangers when attempting debt management. However unfortunate repossessions or lawsuits may be, the true threat wouldn’t just be the attacks upon bank accounts or garnished wages or the loss of property. Any debt issued by the courts or the state or federal government should have a clear priority. While property taxes unmet inevitably necessitate a lien upon the property in question and themselves have the risk of a different sort of foreclosure, past due income taxes, more than anything else, must be dealt with else the scofflaw consumer face actual time in jail. The same could be said for child support or alimony or any debt that the courts deem so important that a failure to satisfy the obligations would threaten imprisonment. Student loans, on the other hand, though every former college student must face an ethical dilemma, won’t ever land defaulted applicants behind bars. However, virtually all loans originated to help students through higher education have been protected through the United States treasury and, as such, maintain special powers such as the garnishment of income without the trouble of an actual trial. Since student loans have such enviably low interest rates and decade spanning payment schedules, though, there’s virtually no reason that borrowers need worry about garnishment as long as they maintain a constant communication with the representatives of the lenders.

Come what may, tax liens and any debts actionable by the courts and their officers are of the utmost importance for every American citizen. Secondarily, you should take extra care with any property debt – particularly considering the current environment regarding real estate loans. Much of the negative publicity that has surrounded mortgage loan lenders should be laughed away as political positioning, but, through countless mortgages and equity loans handed down to home owners that were clearly not able to appreciate the challenges of the obligations they had signed on to accept, the home lending industry has taken quite a blow. As a result, refinancing is more difficult than ever for borrowers already stricken with debt loads they can’t quite manage, and home equity can not be over estimated as the signal emblem of financial security. After all, do not just worry about the investment potential of the home (recent trends aside, there’s no reason to assume that appreciation should not continue), this is you and your family’s shelter! Foreclosure proceedings can be legally launched once you are only three months behind with your payments. To be sure, given the aforementioned glut of foreclosures currently afflicting Americans (and the accompanying bad publicity attached to the lenders themselves), there may be a little more wiggle room for defaulted mortgages. Still, though, after the first missed payment, it’s always that much harder to climb back on your feet, and the home is the most important investment most Americans will ever have. There’s no point to debt management if you end up losing your residence.

In the same way, even if you are not a home owner, while working to manage your credit card accounts through debt management, make sure you do not also ignore the rent payments. Eviction proceedings can happen even quicker than foreclosure and being evicted from your apartment has similar repercussions to credit scores – and, if needs be said, can just as severely affect your income potential and overall mind set (as we’ve said, a comfortably home environment should be thought of as a key to successful debt management). Also, while you are setting aside a budget for debt management and calculating how much money’s available for credit card accounts, don’t forget about your car payment when assessing which bills you may be able to occasionally ignore. Automobile loans tend to feature relatively lower interest rates. However, they’re also very quick to repossess your vehicle if given the opportunity, and that would most assuredly hamper your continued employment as well. Debt management doesn’t only refer to the elimination of credit card accounts but also a lifelong attention and organization of even those debts that you may want to maintain.

Difficulties with auto loans should be particularly worrisome for problem credit borrowers that had to involve shadier finance companies to originally afford the auto. These companies, depending on the fine print of your contract, will not even be legally required to provide written warnings before alerting their repo divisions. Much as the interest rates will be substantially lower than credit cards (which many of these businesses also offer – at sky high rates, to be sure), such predatory lenders take the risk of financing primarily in the hopes that they will be able to take advantage of the much more lucrative repossession market for your car or truck, and keeping your payments up to date should be an essential component of debt management. Another key, when assembling your budget and making a list of necessary due dates, should be to remember to always make sure auto insurance payments are on time. This shouldn’t be solely because of the law, though that should be reason enough, but, in the event your vehicle insurance is canceled, the lender’s have the option of forcing you to pay for their own insurance which carries with far higher premiums for limited benefit that can sink any well meaning attempts toward debt management.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Comments Off

Debt Management – What it Means For You

Within this age of falling economic indicators and ever escalating credit card bills for the average American consumer, debt management has become something of a hot topic everywhere from water coolers to bar stools, but there are a host of different methods surrounding debt management. Everything from bankruptcy to home mortgage refinancing to payday loans could reasonably be considered a form of debt management, but, within the scope of our current essay, we shall concentrate upon those types of debt management that consolidate unsecured (meaning, those loans without property attached) revolving debts through a series of negotiations with the lenders by a third party debt specialist. Credit card representatives are surprisingly open to bartering when properly cajoled by experienced debt management professionals, and, depending upon which program you choose, your interest rates and sometimes even your actual balances may be reduced significantly through these negotiations. The principal forms of this sort of debt management are Consumer Credit Counseling and Debt Settlement. Both strategies consolidate existing loans while attempting to decrease the overall money that is owed – though, to tell the truth, Debt Settlement (not accepting funds from credit card companies, unlike the lender subsidized Credit Card Counseling industry) has a far better success rate for actually diminishing the financial obligations.

To a point, consumers can endeavor to attempt this sort of thing themselves. Certainly, representatives of the unsecured creditors will be open to conversation about the consumers’ renewed attention toward paying off their debts and will often shrug away interest rate reductions or waivers of past fees. However, unless you include a certified debt management company, it’s unlikely that you shall be able to truly lower the amount of the burdens. This is the importance of the consolidation effect. Debt management companies – Debt Settlement companies, particularly – can wield their leverage so effectively primarily because, since they’ve already consolidated all the various debts from the borrowers, each lender knows that they will be surrendering no more than their competitors. It’s not exactly that lenders do not care about retaining the rights to whatever money’s owed at whatever interest rate was originally agreed upon, but those lenders also understand that – however weakened after the legislation of past year – Chapter 7 bankruptcy debt elimination does still exist. As long as there is some semblance of bankruptcy protection, however unlikely the chance or unpalatable the option, each borrower has the potential of declaring bankruptcy protection and legally abandoning all credit card accounts. The credit card companies are under no obligation to make such offers, of course, and a few lenders yet refuse to negotiate with Debt Settlement counselors nor decrease current credit accounts regardless of the threat.

Since debt management remains such a relatively young field, many consumers are rightly concerned about how to go about selecting a company to work with. It’s not like you can just ask your grandfather for advice on debt management the same way you’d expect him to have knowledge of loan officers or accountants. To a certain point, one has to trust instinct when choosing the firm and the counselor with whom you’re – in a very real way – entrusting your family’s financial future, but there are ways to verify the company’s qualifications before starting the process. The Better Business Bureau and several federal agencies maintain records of prior clients’ disapproval. The internet tends to highlight negative features of virtually every enterprise. Consumer Credit Counseling agencies, the past three years, have become an essential part of the bankruptcy declaration – pointless courses are now required before and after Chapter 7 debt elimination – and, through this unexpected turn of events, the more legitimate Consumer Credit Counseling firms must now undergo Justice Department scrutiny and approval in order to be considered for this (highly profitable) secondary purpose. Consumer Credit Counseling companies that do not bother to request government certification likely either have something to hide or display a laziness that in itself should be a warning sign. Debt Settlement companies, while they are not subject to the same governmental scrutiny, maintain their own national organization which subjects members to a rigorous bout of testing before certification would be awarded.

In the most basic possible explanation, the Debt Settlement approach attempts to negotiate lower balances from the creditors in exchange for a heightened payment schedule (and hefty tax write off for the lender, naturally). While the Debt Settlement method does carry alongside a deleterious effect as regards credit reports and FICO scores, the worsened credit rating is still relatively minimal compared to most other debt management solutions. Many of the unsecured lenders – we’re largely talking, once again, about credit card accounts – try to woo problem spenders and delinquent borrowers through offers of one-time lump sum payments that greatly diminish overall balances but those balance are not then reported as ‘satisfied’ to the credit bureaus, Indeed, while these sorts of shenanigans may technically be considered debt management, they are often falsely named debt consolidation when in fact the practice actually resembles a last ditch scheme of desperation on the part of the borrower and the lender. This sort of debt management approach is thought to be the last refuge of the wicked, and your credit report shall reflect this.

As long as you do not overly upset the household budget nor forget to save some additional funds for medical emergencies and the like, each borrower should do what it takes to pay off their loans as swiftly as possible with the worst interest rates tackled first. While tax liens and court mandated burdens cannot be avoided – after all, the ultimate consequence for ignoring those debts is rather more severe than purely lowered FICO scores – there’s also little reason to pay much more than the minimum. Governmental debts generally feature very low interest and court representatives are surprisingly willing to extend terms and lower payments so as to not too greatly inconvenience the debtor, and the same can be said for most (typically community or state monitored) utility companies. Utilities, it should be said, also tend to forget to report late payments to the three credit bureaus, but the same cannot be said for real estate loans or other secured debts. You need to make sure your mortgage, especially considering the current boom market for foreclosures, is paid precisely on time (mortgage lenders, already tending toward the predatory, love nothing more than to ruin their borrowers’ credit scores so as to prevent future refinancing), but, even so, you shouldn’t concern yourself with getting rid of secured loans too quickly. They look the best upon credit reports, they appreciate in value (apart from automobiles, of course) and they tend to have the best interest rates.

Credit cards should be the primary focus of proper debt management, and, to really strike a blow against the various lenders, you should probably consider one of the debt consolidation techniques that are increasingly popular for Americans of all walks of life. To be sure, you can talk to credit card companies on your own, but, as we said earlier, they are far less likely to treat settlement negotiations with amateurs as seriously as they would an experienced (and, with regards to the new debt settlement industry, certified) debt management profession. Even so, you have to remember that there are many different forms of consolidation out there and an equal number of possible results to be had from your efforts. So many consumers walk blindly into Consumer Credit Counseling offices after being pummeled by the endless succession of advertisements and are immediately talked into signing on in order to receive the lower interest rates (and, more importantly, the vastly lowered payments made available) without actually thinking over whether or not the program is right for them. There are FICO score issues to be discussed – Consumer Credit Counseling actually shows up worse than bankruptcy protection when written upon credit reports – and the question of whether or not such a program would actually aid your finances in the long view.

Remember, while interest rates will almost assuredly be lowered well below what the credit card companies charge, there are fees involved with Consumer Credit Counseling (apart from whatever they charge the credit card companies; yes, it’s a very profitable enterprise) that do not always make up for the comparatively lessened interest rates. At the same time, while the payments will almost always be substantially lower through any Consumer Credit Counseling consolidation program, that’s often because the terms are extended to such a degree that – even if the interest has been dramatically shaved – the borrower will still end up paying more money over the course over the loan. Particularly for debtors that already have demonstrated problems with their buying habits, lower monthly minimums are not necessarily in the debtors’ best interests. Consumers prone to purchasing binges should not always have more spending money made available to them when they have not addressed the underlying causes that first landed them in the predicament of needing debt management assistance. Much of the time, you would be better suited by merely taking care of the bills at hand – with credit card remaining the priority – rather than paying additional money for one company to artificially lengthen the repayment process. At the very least, take care to investigate the Debt Settlement approach and indulge a free initial consultation to distinguish their possibilities when compared to Consumer Credit Counseling.

Even after the approach has been decided upon and the company of choice has been, as they say, vetted, there are, still, several things to watch out for regardless of the business’ standing within the community or their previous dealings with friends and family. Remember, no matter how legitimate the company, you are personally dealing with a debt specialist working for that company, and, regardless of the organizational guidelines, even the best firms may sometimes hire counselors that are striving to get ahead above and beyond the purposes of their client. Once again, you must get everything – EVERY LAST DETAIL – written down and fully documented to prevent potential abuse from less than competent assistance. Ensure, through recorded agreements, that the creditors shall be paid each month on time as promised so that the debt management company knows that they themselves will be held liable for any potential slip ups. If the debt management firm says that the creditors insist upon an initial payment toward said debt management firm prior to negotiation (which does occasionally happen), ask to see the paperwork – or, better, talk to the lender yourself and verify precisely what they want.

Do not agree to any program necessitating stipends that you believe your household cannot regularly meet. It is the responsibility of the debt management company to calculate a budget that recognizes the day to day expenses their clients of yet and does not stipulate a monthly payment that overly restricts the availability of their funds. So much of debt management revolves around proper budgeting, and the counselor has to be considerate of their clients’ needs. While you should not thoroughly respect any program that allows overly lax terms (minimizing payments without touching the balances of your credit card debts, after all, only increases the eventual sums to be paid once compound interest continually adds up), you have to make sure that the payments are still comfortable for the household throughout the year. As well, you should know that most of the more effective debt management solutions force their clients to refrain from additional borrowing over the course of the program. Once again, this philosophy changes alongside the debt relief approach that you choose, but you’d probably better assume that, while within the debt management proceedings, you will not be allowed to take out further loans.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Comments Off