What to Look for in a Debt Settlement Company

Not all Debt Settlement Companies are alike. In fact, most do not offer the personal and professional service you will need.  

Here are the most important things to look for:

 

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Most people will experience a time in their lives when due to circumstances beyond their control, they fall victim to the easy access of credit card debt!

Just to name a few, these circumstances may include:

  • Death of a spouse or loved one, cutting your income dramatically
  • Trying to survive on a fixed income after retirement
  • Too little income after a serious illness or disability
  • Divorce
  • Unemployment
  • The ever increasing rise in the price of rent and products and services!

After helping people examine their options when faced with too much debt for almost 15 years now, I've noticed some common patterns that led to this situation:

At first, a credit card is used to make up the gaps or shortage of income.

There are certain things that you just have to have.... such as...

  • Gas for the car
  • Groceries
  • Unexpected repair or replacement of a major appliance

So, you use the credit card, planning on paying it off as soon as your financial circumstances change.

But, when they don't or you can't, then your may be forced to use another credit card to help make the minimum payment on the first card.

Or, you may need help paying the utility bill or another necessary expense. (sound familiar?)

This should be the most obvious warning sign that your are in serious financial trouble!

What can you do now?

Although your options are limited, YOU DO HAVE OPTIONS:

Credit counseling or a Debt Management Program

If you qualify (it may be too late), a Debt Management Company will contact each of your creditors and arrange a repayment plan that may include a reduction in interest rates and possibly the minimum required payment.

The problem with the Credit Counseling or Debt Management Program is that if you could not keep up with the minimum required monthly payments before, you most likely will not be able to meet the minimum monthly payment required now.

So now what?

Debt Settlement

In a Debt Settlement Program, rather than continuing to "rob Peter to pay Paul" as they say, you stop using your credit cards.

Most likely, you have stopped making minimum payments, but if not, now you are going to.

You make a monthy deposit into an FICD Insured bank account that will be used to negotiate settlements with your creditors and/or debt collectors.

A professional, top ranked Debt Settlement Company will spend time going over your particular circumstances to determine the best program and course of action you need.

There are several very important factors that must be considered before enrolling with a Debt Settlement Company.  Such as

  • How long has the company been in business?
  • Are they registered with the state?
  • Are they accredited with the Better Business Bureau?
  • Accreditated and A +  by the Better Business Bureau 
  • What is their record of complaints?
  • Can you speak with the same representative each time?
  • Does the representative seem knowledgeable, patient and understanding?
  • What about "testimonies"  from clients?
  • Can you see some actual settlements?
  • Recent Settlements See what we have  done for our clients!
  • If you change your mind after enrollment, can you not only opt out, but also receive a refund of your net reserve account?

 

A qulified,BBB accredited Debt Settlement Company will provide ALL OF THE ABOVE!

If not....keep looking!

But, what if you cannot qualify for a Debt Settlement Progam?

It may be time to consider Bankruptcy.

Yes, I know it sounds terrible, but in the right situation, it may be the fresh start you need!

But, be careful when looking for a qualified bankruptcy attorney!  

Make sure that bankruptcy is their only specialty and that they are willing to meet with you for an initial consultation, FREE OF CHARGE!

Finally....

Dealing with the stress of a financial hardship requires information and help.

A qualified Debt Settlement Company may be just what you need, but you need to do a little homework first!

free-debt-relief-summary

 

 

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Tags: credit card debt, debt settlement, debt management, bankruptcy attorney, better business bureau

Should You Be Afraid of Debt Collectors?

A recent newspaper article in Portland, OR from The Oregonian stated that as many as 33% of all consumers will be dealing with debt collectors!

Although dealing with a debt collector can be frustrating and annoying, there is really no reason to ever fear a debt collector.

Believe me, I certainly understand why most people who find themselves in a financial situation that has caused some or all of their accounts to be turned over to a debt collector are nervous.  The thought that you might lose your home, possessions and/or bank accounts would cause any sane person to be afraid.

fear of debt collectors


Well, the good news is that in most cases, that FEAR is not necessary!

In this blog, I am talking about dealing with unsecured debts (credit cards, store cards, medical bills, etc.) and not secured debts such as a home mortgage or auto loan.

So, here are a few things to remember and tips on how to deal with debt collectors:

It rarely does much good to talk with a debt collector on the phone.

Once your account is 60-90 days past due, you can expect a call from either the RECOVERY DEPARTMENT of the creditor or from a DEBT COLLECTION COMPANY.

While your account is still with the original creditor, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or FDCPA laws that allow you to put a stop to collection calls do not apply...yet!

Most of the time, when the original creditor's agent calls, they are just trying to find out what your situation is and may offer a plan to help you get back on track.

BE VERY CAREFUL!!!  They may offer what is called a "HARDSHIP PLAN", whereby you agree to allow them to deduct a certain amount of money (usually less than the total amount your last statement DEMANDED) from your checking account for say, 6 months. 

At the end of the 6 months, they promise to "REVIEW" your case and get you started making regular payments again.  But usually, after you have paid the agreed upon amount for 6 months, your have barely made a dent in reducing your balance and are right back to where you started!

If you take the call from the original creditor, be very calm and simply say something like:

"I realize I've fallen behind on my bill and fully intend to get caught up soon. But, at this time, there is nothing I can do, so please stop calling me."

Yes, I know I just said that they have the legal right (at this point) to call, but they may honor your request and leave you alone for a month or so.


If the recovery department of the original creditor is unsuccessful in getting your to start making payments, the account most likely will be charged off and sold or transferred to a debt collector after about 120 days.

You most likely will get a letter from the debt collector and no doubt will start getting phone calls!

A Debt Collector's job is to get you to pay...period!  Although there are plenty of "decent" debt collectors who actually may show some empathy for you, there are many that are just the opposite.

These debt collectors will use all kinds of tactics to get you to pay up!  Although most debt collectors follow the laws and/or guidelines of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, there are always a few "bad apples".

Don't get into a dialog with a debt collector!

While I think it's OK to have one short conversation with the original creditor, it's usually a whole different story now that your account has been turned over to a debt collector!

If they have sent you a letter demanding payment, etc., get the address of the debt collector and write them a letter demanding that they cease calling you at home.

Here is a sample letter you can use:

STOP Collection Calls Free Sample Letter

If the calls don't stop (it will take a week or so) then you can file a complaint with your state's attorney general's office.

Usually, the debt collector will stop calling as they can be fined very severely!

NOW WHAT?

After a reasonable period of time (varies with each debt collector), if the debt collector is unsuccessful in getting you to start paying , the original creditor may:

  • Recall the account and turn it over to another debt collector and the process will start again.  Yes, you will have to send another letter to the new debt collector to stop the calls!
  • Turn the account over to a Law Firm that only practices debt collection.

 

If your account is placed with a Law Firm that practices debt collection, you will get the same letters and calls, but now, you need to be careful.

If the Law Firm decides to FILE A CLAIM for the debt you owe on behalf of the original creditor or the debt collector, you will get a SUMMONS.

I've written several blog articles over the years on what to do if you receive a summons, but in short:

  • DON'T IGNORE THE SUMMONS
  • DON'T PANIC!

Most people think that a debt collector and/or debt collection law firm can just garnish your income, levy your bank account and/or put a levy on your home or other property.

While it's true that they can AFTER they are awarded a judgment, they cannot do anything until then.  That's why it is so important to take action if you receive a summons!

In most cases, you can prevent the CLAIM from moving on to a JUDGMENT by contacting the attorney's office and working something out.

Most "judgments" are awarded to the creditor/debt collector/plaintiff because the debtor didn't take any pro-active steps.

If you are employed and receive regular W-2 income, then you can't let

If you...

  • Are retired, with only Social Security and/or Retirement Income, or
  • Disabled and receiving Disability Income only, or
  • Are unemployed and receiving unemployment income, or
  • Receive child support or alimony payments, then...

These sources of income are exempt from garnishment. Notice, I didn't say exempt from state or federal taxes you may owe, but from garnishment for unsecured debts.

The best way to put an end with dealing with debt collectors is to NEGOTIATE A SETTLEMENT of your account. That is, if you have some funds available to make an offer of 40%-60% of the balance. 

If not, you can still usually negotiate a settlement by agreeing to make monthly payments rather than a lump sum payment, but you may have to pay a little larger settlement.

Click here for some very useful information on how to negotiate a settlement:

FREE EBook Debt Settlement  Basics

One final thought...

If your financial circumstances are such that you have no ability to offer a settlement, either in a lump sum or payments, then you may need to consult a bankruptcy attorney.

Bankruptcy is a way to help those who qualify to put and end to debt collectors and get a fresh start.

If all of this sounds a little overwhelming, we can help:



 


 

Photo credit: 

Kevin B 3

milwaukeemakerspace.org/2012/12/fear/

Tags: debt collection, fair debt collection practices act, credit card debt, debt settlement, Bankruptcy, debt, credit cards, Oregon, PORTLAND

When is Debt Settlement Your Best Option?

Too much credit card and other unsecured debt?  Not able to keep up with the payments?  You may be a prospect for Debt Settlement.

But, before you decide, consider the following:credit cards cut up

Debt Settlement is a very effective program to help people settle unsecured debts for less than the total balance due.

  • The unsecured debts I'm talking about are:
  • Credit Cards
  • Store Cards
  • Home Shopping Club accounts or cards
  • Personal Loans
  • Repossession Deficiency Judgments
  • Medical Bills
  • Personal Student Loans (although there are programs to help on Federal Student Loans as well)

When faced with too much debt and not enough income or cash flow to keep up with at least the minimum payments due, there are only a few options to keep the debt collectors at bay:

A Debt Management Program

A Debt Management Program used to be called a "Credit Counseling Program" and sometimes it is still called by that name.  In a Debt Management or Credit Counseling Program, a person signs up with a "non-profit" (only for taxable reasons, YES, you will be paying fees!), and they will have set up a program with each of your creditors.

Usually, the interest rates are reduced or sometimes eliminated, late fees and over-the-limit fees are usually forgiven after you have made a few payments, and your account is now classified as being paid as agreed or on time.

However, the problem with a Debt Management or Credit Counseling Program is that there is very little forgiveness if you miss or are late on a payment!  I've seen people who had been consistent for many months, and then, due to an emergency, just couldn't come up with the total due that month.  The Debt Management Program was canceled or voided and they were back to square one!

Also, in a Debt Management or Credit Counseling Program, the total monthly payment may be more that the total minimum monthly payment you are required to make now!  And, the company is charging you a monthly service fee as well!

So, if you go through the process of trying to enroll in a Debt Management Program and find out you cannot qualify, what now?

A Debt Acceleration Program

A Debt Acceleration Program (sometimes referred to as a Debt Snowball Plan) is perfect for someone who is making the minimum monthly payments on each of their debts and yet, due to high interest rates and annual fees, realize that at this rate, it will take 15-20 years to pay off those debts!

A person who should look into a Debt Acceleration Program also could add another $100 - $200 each month to help reduce or accelerate paying off these debts.

Most people in a Debt Acceleration Program are DEBT FREE in 48-60 months, saving thousands of dollars in interest and fees!

I prefer the Debt Acceleration Program to a Debt Management or Credit Counseling Program because as far as your credit report is concerned, you were a very consistent debtor and not only paid all of your payments on time, but actually did so sooner than required!

 

 

OK, but what if you are one of so many people that due to:

  • Job loss
  • Divorce
  • Disability
  • Death of loved one
  • Major Financial Emergency

...just cannot meet the total minimum payments due on your unsecured accounts and cannot qualify for a Debt Management or Debt Acceleration Program?

Then, you should consider a:

Debt Settlement Program

Debt Settlement is designed for people who have a severe financial hardship, have tried to keep up with all of the bills, but some or all of their credit card accounts and other unsecured debts have been turned over to debt collectors.

These debt collectors are calling all day and even harassing you at work. But, before I explain how a Debt Settlement Program works and could help you, here's how to put a stop to those collection calls:

STOP Collection Calls Free Sample Letter

In a Debt Settlement Program, you will go through a thorough financial overview to determine several things, such as:

  • Type of employment (self or W-2)
  • Basic Monthly Budget
  • Retirement status
  • Type of income you are receiving (disability, social security, unemployment, etc.)
  • Assets (mainly do you have equity in your home)
  • Are you renting?

Once you know where you stand, you will have an amount (that you can afford) deposited into your Debt Settlement Reserve Account (FDIC insured bank) monthly.

The Debt Settlement company will be contacting your creditors and/or debt collectors to arrange settlements.  As you reserve account grows, each of your accounts should be settled for much less than the total balance due.

Recent Settlements See what we have  done for our clients!

But finally, what if you just are barely making ends meet on your basic bills and have little or nothing left over to put towards a Debt Settlement Program?

Then, you should consider:

A Bankruptcy Program

There are basically two types of Bankruptcy Programs for individuals:

  • Chapter 7
  • Chapter 13

The Chapter 7 is not used as much these days as it is basically designed for someone to liquidate any assets they have (obviously, not very much) and that small amount is paid to each creditor, and the balances of your debts are "forgiven".

In a Chapter 13, a bankruptcy attorney will present a type of repayment plan to the bankrutpcy court based on your financial status.  Usually, a person will be making a monthly payment of $200-$400  (or whatever your bankruptcy attorney comes up with) for about 3-5 years.  Each of your creditors receives a small portion of the balance due.

At the end of the Chapter 13, the balances of your debts are forgiven.

Oh, by-the-way, if you receive a 1099-C, in most case, you should not be liable for any additional taxes due on the amounts forgiven.

Debt Settlement is a great program for the right person.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 Photo Credit:  Daniel Oines

Tags: credit card debt, debt settlement, Credit Score, Bankruptcy, credit report, debt relief in Portland Oregon, chapter 7 bankruptcy, chapter 13 bankrutpcy, credit card debt relief oregon, credit cards, credit card debt help

When It Comes to Debt Settlement, One Size Does NOT Fit All!


A recent article in our Portland, OR newspaper, The Oregonian, stated that one in every three people in America are facing debt collection.  If you are one of the 33%, what are your options?

shop now pay laterSadly, when faced with the annoying and often harassing tactics used by many debt collectors, people are often given only one choice...debt settlement.

But, after over 11 years helping people deal with having too much debt, I want you to know that although debt settlement is often a very viable choice, and often the only choice to prevent bankruptcy, it is not the only choice. In other words, ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL!

 

Unfortunately, many debt settlement companies ONLY offer and therefor ONLY recommend debt settlement as the solution to dealing with a severe debt load.

Let's briefly look at the various options:

There are so many different possible scenarios or various financial circumstances that people are facing that a quality, experienced company that assists people with debt will do a thorough analysis to determine the proper program.  It is much like a doctor who should do a thorough exam before prescribing a drug or procedure!

The first step is to determine what kind of "DEBT" you are dealing with.

For example, SECURED DEBT, such as a mortgage, auto loan, or any other loan that is secured by property (usually the property itself), must be dealt with differently than UNSECURED DEBT.

Some of the more common forms of UNSECURED DEBTS are:

  • Credit Cards
  • Store credit cards
  • Personal or Signature bank loan
  • Medical bills
  • Private (not Federal) Student Loan
  • On Line shopping sites such as QVC, EBay, and others that offer credit

Once we have identified what type of debts you are facing (and there are usually a combination), then we need to determine where you are FINANCIALLY.  In other words, after you pay all of your basic bills to live...mortgage or rent (all secured debts), as well as... food, utilities, gas, medicine, insurance, etc., is there any money at the end of the month to pay towards those debts?

The easiest way to determine where you stand is to complete a simple, Household Budget Worksheet.  

Budget Worksheet FREE Download here!

Once you've detemined where you stand, then we can look at the various options.

A DEBT MANAGEMENT PROGRAM (often referred to as Credit Counseling), has been used by people with debt problems for years.

This program is designed for someone who is currently making all of the minimum payments required on their unsecured debts, but because of the HIGH INTEREST RATES (APR) and ANNUAL FEES and OTHER FEES (late fees, over-the-limit fees, etc.), realize that they are not making any progress to actually paying off these debts.

For example...

Did you realize that if you have a credit card with a balance of say, $5,000 and an annual percentage rate (APR) of 19%, it may take you 15-20 years or more to pay the card off by making the monthly minimum monthly payment required.

For more information:  DEBT CONTROL: 4 PROGRAMS THAT WORK!


If you are barely making all necessary payments (secured) as well as your monthly minimum payments, but there is nothing left over, then a Debt Management Program may be best for you.

But, if you actually have (or can make some living adjustments to find) and extra $100-$200 per month to put towards your debts, then you should consider:

A DEBT ACCELERATOR PROGRAM

Originally called by various names such as a "Snowball Plan" or a "Roll Up Plan", in a DEBT ACCELERATOR PROGRAM, you are going to pay off your debt in an average of 4-5 years without enrolling in a Debt Management Program (which may or may not harm your credit score).

Basically, in a Debt Accelerator Program, you will be making the normal minimum payments each month as before, but you are going to increase one of your debts by say $150/month.

There are several theories about whether you should accelerate the highest balance or interest rate first, but I don't want to get into that here.

I recommend that you start with the lowest balance first, make the minimum due plus the additional $150, and pay that one off quickly...you'll be amazed!

And, not only amazed, but excited to go to the next debt!

Now, you take the former minimum payment (say it was $50) and after adding the $150, were making $200 per month instead of just the $50 and you add that $200 to the next card or debt's minimum due.  Let's say the next one is $75.

Now you are making a total of $275 towards the next card ($50 + $150 + $75 = $275).

Get the idea?  Soon, you keep "Accelerating" each debt and you will be DEBT FREE in a much shorter time and save thousand of dollars in interest and fees!

SOUND GOOD, BUT...

What if not only do you not have any extra money to put toward a Debt Accelerator Program, you can't even make the minimum monthly payments your unsecured debt require now?

THIS IS WHERE A DEBT SETTLEMENT PROGRAM MAY COME TO YOUR RESCUE!

Rather than opt for bankruptcy, millions of people have used a Debt Settlement Program to pay off all of their unsecured debts and avoid bankruptcy.

Debt Settlement is a program designed for those who are really in trouble, fincially.  Usually, most or all of their debt have gone to debt collectors who are are calling severaly times a day and sending threatening letters!

STOP Collection Calls Free Sample Letter

You will be making a monthly contribution to a bank insured (FDIC) account to hold those funds until there is a reasonable amount built up to make a SETTLEMENT OFFER.

Again, depending on several factors, most settlement offers are going to be around 50% of the balance.  Some are for more, other less.

Recent Settlements See what we have  done for our clients!

People often ask if a Debt Settlement Program hurts their credit score.  But, they are not thinking the process through.  If you're accounts have gone to debt collectors or judgments, your credit score has all ready suffered!

Once you get all of your debts settled...ie., you have $0 balances, your credit scores will improve!

OK, but what if you can't even afford to make a contribution to a Debt Settlement Program?

Then, it is time for you to seek BANKRUPTCY PROTECTION from your creditors!

Again, unfortunately, their are many Debt Settlement Companies that only offer one solution to everyone's debt problem.  But, as you can see, ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL, when it comes to dealing with debt.

Seek the counsel and advice of a qualified Bankruptcy Attorney.  You should be able to have a FREE Consultation and hear about your options.  In fact, good bankruptcy attorneys will work with you as far as their fees go. If not, seek out another bankruptcy attorney!

I hope I have made my point that when it comes to DEBT SETTLEMENT, one size does not fit all!

 

Photo by: DRNW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Tags: debt collection harassment, credit card debt, debt settlement, Bankruptcy, debt collectors, debt management, credit cards

Credit and Debt...Good or Bad?

According to an article in The Oregonian recently, about a third of Americans are facing debt collection!  If you are one of the three facing this debt crisis, here are a few tips on how to control your debt.

Wipe Out DebtWhy is that?  Why do so many people, according to the article...1 in 3...have debt issues.  Notice, the article didn't say they just had debt, the article stated that 33% of Americans have DEBT COLLECTION PROBLEMS.!

While I am not in favor of carrying too much debt, there is a difference between GOOD DEBT and BAD DEBT.

 

For example, for most people, it is almost impossible to buy a home without incurring debt.  Depending on where you live, a home will cost around $200,000 these days (some more, some less).  With so many of us just trying to pay the bills, much less save any money of significance, if you want a home, your going to go into debt...for a long, long time!

But I believe having a mortgage payment that you can afford (and that's another whole story) is not actually a bad debt but rather a good debt.  In the long run, most home will appreciate in value. 

Sure, we all are still coming out of the home mortgage fiasco over the last several years, where most home values in America plummeted.  But, if you look at the history of home values, for the most part, they go up over time.

So, when you send in your mortgage payment, yes, a very large part of the payment is going to interest and very little to the principal in the early years, but you are in part, paying yourself.

Let's say you have a home that had a purchase price of $185,000.  You were able to qualify for a loan and after 10 years, the balance on your mortgage was about $140,000. At year 20, the balance should be around $80,000.

But, if your home appreciated at about 5% (could be higher or lower) each year, your home could now be worth approximately $475,000! 

That's a good use of debt!

On the other hand, what about a automobile loan?

Most people rent homes and buy cars.  Sure, I understand that it is much easier to qualify and afford a car payment vs. a home mortgage, but let's think about that for a minute.

You see the ad on TV and convince yourself that you need, deserve, it "just makes sense" to go out and buy a new car.  Yes, your old "clunker" barely runs and needs a couple of thouands in repairs, but does it make sense to spend $2,000 to repair the PAID FOR car or spend $20,000 or so (of debt) for a brand new car)? 

Cars DEPRECIATE!  That simple means that every year you own the car (I'm not talking about exotic or collector cars), the value goes down.

If you haven't experience it, you probably know someone who bought a new car (they didn't buy it, they started making payments on it) and for whatever reason wanted to sell or trade it in.

While the original sales price was $20,000, and they had been making payments of, say $375 each month for the last 3 years (on a 5 year note), the loan balance is about $8,600, but the value of the car is only $10,000- $12,000.

Let's say they sold the car (usually much better than a trade in) for $11,000.  They had made 36 payments of $375 or $13,500:

Total of payments              $13,500

Sale price                        -  11,000

Net profit/loss                  - $ 2,500

That looks like BAD DEBT to me!

Now, I'm certainly not an expert and there are plenty of sites available to check out, but what do you think about this...

Rather than purchasing a new car at $375/month and seeing it's value go down, down, down... you saved $375 a month.  OK, try to stay with me on this:

You BORROW (friend, family, bank) $2,000 to repair you current car.

Pay back that loan at $375/month for about 5.5 months.

Now you start saving the $375/month towards purchasing another car 3 years from now.

At only 2% (now much paid in savings interest these days) after 3 years, you should have close to $16,000!

You sell the old "clunker" for at least a $1,000 and now you have $17,000 to pay towards another (most likely not new) car.  You will be amazed at what $17,000 can when talking about cars!

I don't even want to start talking about Credit Card Debt.

I've been helping people with too much credit card debt for over a dozen years now and I believe that there is only one instance I could recommend using a credit card.

If you are have your financial affairs in order, meaning that you have all of your bills paid on time with a reasonable amount left over, then you may be a candidate to take advantage of some of the offers from credit card companies.

If you like to travel, there are some credit card companies that will give you airline "points" or "mileage" by using their card.  The creditor estimates that for every "free" ticket they give a customer that pays the entire balance every month  (they lose money on this guy)they will be a "zillion" times compensated by the majority of credit users who only pay the minimum each month!

Here's what I mean...

I have a good friend who owns a small auto-repair business.  He pays for all of his parts orders with one credit card that offers great mileage and bonuses.  He then pays the entire balance off every month before any interest is charged! THAT IS THE KEY!!!!

Let me repeat...HE PAYS THE ENTIRE BALANCE OFF EVERY MONTH BEFORE INTEREST IS CHARGED!  He receives lots of ticket and bonus offer from his credit card company.  I'm sure they don't like a guy like that, but in reality, he is probably only one in a thousand anyway!

So, CREDIT AND DEBT...GOOD OR BAD?

It really boils down to how you use it!



Photo by:  TaxRebate.org.uk

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: debt collection, credit card debt, debt collectors, debt, credti, credit card companies

Debt Control: 4 Programs That Work!

Debt...although a necessary evil in today's economy, it can be devastating.  Here are 4 Debt Control programs that may work for you!

controlling debt control

Are you having a hard time with any of these?

  • Credit Cards
  • Medical bills
  • Utility Bills
  • Personal Bank Loans
  • Auto Loans
  • repossession Deficiencies
  • Judgments

 

If you do (and millions of people are just like you), you should consider one (or more) of these programs:

DEBT ACCELERATOR PROGRAM

There are all kinds of estimates or studies that have been done to try and calculate how many people are carrying debt loads that are becoming difficult to handle.

The average US household credit card debt is estimated to by around $15,000.  Now, some families are carrying very large amounts of debt and some have less, but the point is... we (most people) are carrying far too much debt. 

I  believe it was Dave Ramsey who either first developed or made popular the idea of the Debt Snowball Plan.  Sure, there are some critics of this type of plan, but usually those critics have not been dealing with people (and especially people's emotions) for very long.  While I don't agree with everything he promotes, the fact that he is helping people get control of their debt is admirable, and I applaude his teachings.

Basically, in a DEBT ACCELERATOR PROGRAM (my term for a Roll-Up or Snowball Plan) you are going to be paying a little more that the total required minimum payments of all of your accounts. Don't think you can find a "little more" money each month?

  • How about making a few changes in your lifestyle?  For example:
  • Daily StarBucks coffee = $5.00 x 30 days/month = $150 per month
  • Fast food lunch at say $6 bucks x 30 days/month = $180 per month
  • Health club membership you never (or rarely) use = $25/month

Get the idea??? If you are serious about finding some extra money to pay off your debt in a shorter period of time, you can do it!  OK, I'll get down from my "soap-box"! 

Let's say you have a total monthly minimum required payment of $500.  Although you have been paying consistently for several years, the balances are barely going down!

Of course, you know (or should know) why.  The credit card industry has tricked the average consumer into thinking that they are "repaying" their debt by making the minimum required payment each mont.  But, if you will take a close look at your next credit card statement, you're going to be shocked (outraged is better) to learn that your balance was hardly reduced at all.  Here's why:

Hypothetical Credit Card:

  • Balance                                    $7,000
  • APR                                             19%
  • Minimum Payment is 2.25% of balance

$7,000 x 2.5% = $175

19% / 12 (months in a year) = 1.583% interest on $7,000 = $110.81 (THAT'S RIGHT...DO THE MATH)

So, when you send in your "minimum payment" of $175, here's what next month's statement will look like:

Previous Balance                      $7,000.00

Interest charge                         $  110.81

Payment received                    -$   175.00

New Balance                            $6,935.81

YOU GOT IT!  You sent $175 and your balance was only reduced by $ 64.81!!!

No wonder it takes peope 10, 15 or more years to pay off the average credit card (especially if you continue to only make the "minimum payment required"!

But, by making a few changes in your spending habits, you find an extra $100 per month.  By adding an additional $100 per month to the $175 (and not reducing the $175 as you balance goes down), you can pay off that credit card in just 33 months, saving you thousands in interest!

Now that you have that one paid off, YOU DON'T LOWER THE TOTAL MONTHLY PAYMENT, you just reallocate or add it to the next credit card, and so forth, and so forth until all of your credit cards are paid off!  DOESN'T THAT SOUND GREAT!

But, what if you not only can't afford the total minimum payments, you don't have any extra funds for a Debt Accelerator Program?

Then, a DEBT SETTLEMENT PROGRAM may be the answer!

So many people have run into some very difficult times, financially.  This may due to:

  • Loss of employment
  • Too little fixed income after retirement
  • Death of a spouse or partner
  • Disability
  • Divorce
  • And many other "financial challenges" that you may be facing

Does that mean that you can never recover or be DEBT FREE once again?

No, in fact, debt collectors are usually more than willing to SETTLE a debt for less than the total balance, depending on your particular circumstances.

When you fall behind on your payments to your creditors, as you know, the calls start becoming more frequent and frustrating! 

Did you know that once your account has been transferred to a debt collector, you can legally make them stop calling?

STOP Collection Calls Free Sample Letter

After you account is with a debt collector (may be a "debt purchaser"), you will need to make a SETTLEMENT OFFER of much less than the total balance.  Now, here's where it get's tricky.

A professional debt collector usually receives a bonus or commission depending on how much they can get you to pay.  In some cases, they start out very firm and tell you that they cannot offer a discount at all (not true).  Sometimes, they are willing to offer 70% or so, and you may have received a letter with the offer.

My experience with dealing with debt collectors over the last 12 years is that they are all working on different "numbers" (for lack of a better word), meaning that they have certain goals their bosses give them and they may or may not be able to go as low as you want.

If you get an offer that works for you, MAKE SURE YOU GET IT SENT TO YOU IN WRITING! I don't know how many times we get a client who made a "settlement agreement" over the phone, made all the payments as agreed, but found out that the debt collector denied ever making the agreement and demanded the remainder of the full amount!

For more information about "how" and "if" Debt Settlement really works, CLICK HERE.

FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN FORGIVENESS PROGRAMS

If you are like thousands upon thousands of current, former or parents of students with too much Federal Student Loans to repay, we have SOME GOOD NEWS!

Again, as with any "government" program, depending on your particular circumstances, you may qualify for one of these new programs. Basically, if you income falls within certain parameters, you may be able to have anywhere from NO PAYMENTS to maybe only a $100 or so.  Make these payments for 20 years, and the remainder of the balance will be forgiven! 

And, if you are in or go into some sort of "public service" career, you may only need to pay the reduced payments for 10 years!

Trying to determine not only IF YOU QUALIFY, but HOW MUCH YOUR PAYMENT WOULD BE, is not very easy (remember....government...). Let us help:

877-492-4109

Finally, if your financial circumstances are so bad that you cannot qualify for any of the programs above, then you should consider BANKRUPTCY PROTECTION!

Notice I said "bankruptcy protection", as in PROTECTION FROM YOUR CREDITORS!

If you ignore the collection letters and calls and are not able to work out a repayment plan or settlement, the creditor or debt collector may decide to FILE A COMPLAINT and then you would receive a SUMMONS.

If you ignore the summons (as so many people do), then the creditor (or PLAINTIFF), will most likely be awarded a DEFAULT JUDGMENT.

Now the credior has the legal right to apply for a WRIT OF GARNISHMENT, not only for your INCOME, but possibly your BANK ACCOUNT(S).

You should seek the cousel of a BANKRUPTCY ATTORNEY right away.

So, there are 4 Programs to control you debt:

  • Debt Accelerator Program
  • Debt Settlement Program
  • Federal Studen Loan Forgiveness Programs
  • Bankruptcy

You don't have to live in fear or frustration. Get some help today!

 

 

Photo credit:

Jason Rogers

 

 




 


 

 



Tags: credit card debt, Bankruptcy, debt collection in oregon, debt collector, stop the collection calls, debt settlement in oregon

Dealing With Debt, Part 1, Debt Management

Does Debt Management really work?  Will I improve my credit score with Debt Management?  Will debt collectors start leaving me alone?

These are just a few of the Frequently Asked Questions about Debt Settlement.  We get them all the time, even though we have numerous blogs about all of the aspects of debt management.

Confused about credit card statement

The truth is, anytime someone gets into trouble having accumulated too much debt, fear of the unknown and misunderstanding about what debt collectors can, and can't do, takes over.

Almost everyone in America has some form of debt. Many people use debt wisely and are OK.  But many people (people just like you and me) have gone through, or are going through a very tough time, financially. 

  • How do you deal with to much debt?
  • What are your options?
  • What can debt collectors do to me?
  • Can they levy my bank account or garnish my wages?
  • Will I have to file for bankruptcy?
  • To be honest, I'm scared!

Over the next three series of blogs about Dealing With Debt, I hope I can answer most of your questions and help alleviate some of the fear and misunderstanding associated with having too much debt.

For this series, I will be addressing UNSECURED DEBT, such as:

  • Credit Cards
  • Store Credit Cards
  • Personal Bank Loans
  • Private (not Federally backed ) Student Loans
  • Repossessions (specifically "deficiency balance", which is the remaining balance after your car, boat, etc. was sold at auction)
  • Pay Day Loans

SECURED DEBT, such at your home, auto, Federal Student loan, etc. have to be dealt with differently.  I will address these in later blogs. 

There are really only a few options when it comes to dealing with too much unsecured debt:

  • Debt Management (or Credit Counseling) Program
  • "Debt Roll-Up" or "Debt Reduction Snowball Plan"
  • Debt Settlement Program
  • Bankruptcy

DEBT MANAGEMENT

In the "old-days", well, not really that long ago, when a consumer got behind on their credit card payments, A non-profit, credit counseling (a tax entity title...yes they do make a profit...a lot of profit!) program was created to help people get back on track.

Basically, in a Debt Management Program , instead of making minimum payments to each of your creditors with high or very high interest rates and fees, if you qualify, you will make ONE PAYMENT to a Debt Management Company.  They have established guidelines with all of the major creditors to usually:

  • Lower your interest rate
  • Re-Age or forgive late or over-the-limit fees
  • Stop creditors from calling
  • And, a Debt Management Program IS NOT A FACTOR when calculating your credit score.
  • Most Debt Management Programs last about 4-5 years, depending on how much debt you have, etc.

Although a Debt management Program can help reduce the total amount of interest and fees you will end up paying until these debts are paid off, your required monthly payment may be more than you are making now!

The Credit Card Industry realized several years ago that the worst thing that could happen to them, from a profit stand point, was to have their consumers actually pay off their credit cards.

In the early days of credit cards, the minimum payment could be as high as 4%-5%, depending on each company's policies.

Think about that... 

Let's say you had a balance of $10,000 on your XYZ Credit Card, with an Annual Percentage Rate of 19% and a minimum monthly payment of 4.5% of the balance.  

I know the credit card contracts are almost impossible to understand, so let's keep this simple:

On a balance of $10,000 at 19%, your annual interest charge would be about $1,900!

Divide the 19% interest rate by 12 (12 months in a year) and you get a Monthly Interest Rate of 1.5833%.  $10,000 multiplied by 1.5833% equals $158.33, but's let's round off to $158.

Add the $158 to the $10,000 and you have $10,158, which is the NEW BALANCE.

Multiply that by the Minimum Monthly Payment Percentage of 5%, and you get $507.90 or $508 as a minimum payment.

So, you send in the $508 payment.  Next month, you get your statement, and it shows $10,158 less your $508 payment leaves $9,650. 

But wait...there's that interest charge again!

$9,650 multiplied by 1.5833% equals $152.79 or $153.

Add $9650 plus $153 and you get $9803 as your New Balance (assuming you didn't make any more more charges!)  Multiply that by 5% and you get $490.15 as your minimum monthly payment. Wow!

Yes, in the "old days", your were forced to pay off your credit cards sooner (if you could afford the minimum monthly payment) and therefore saved more money in the long run.

But, the Credit Card Industry got wise and decided to only charge 2% or maybe 2.5% as a minimum monthly payment. 

Without taking a lot of time repeat the above process, you should be able to see that on a balance of $10,158 if you only had to make a 2% minimum monthly payment, your payment would only be $203 instead of $508!  That's $305 less!  Good deal, right?

Well, here's what happened:

For the credit card industry, it was a very, very good deal! But, for those of us who didn't think the process through, we thought, "Wow, I could barely afford the $508 miniumum monthly payment, but at $203, I can CHARGE UP ALMOST TWICE AS MUCH  and still make the payment!" 

So, charge, charge, charge!!!  And we know what happens.  Now you have $20,000 of total unsecured debt at an average annual interest rate of say, 19%.  But, you only have to pay 2% of your "new monthly balance" each month.

OK, $20,000 multiplied by that annual interest rate of 19% divided by 12 or 1.5833% equals $317 of interest.  Add that to the $20,000 and now you have $20,317.  At 2%, that's a minimum monthly payment of $406.  Cool!  Your monthly payment on $20,000 is actually less than it would have been (back then) on $10,000.

Watch out! We all know where this is heading! 

All kinds of calculations are out there on the web that show that if you only make the small minimum payments on your credit cards until they are paid off, you will end up spending 3-4 times as much as you originally borrowed! On $20,000, you could end up paying back $60,000 - $80,000 over many years!

Good deal?  Only for the Credit Card Industry!

So, you call a Debt Management Company.  They go through all the financial consultation (free and if not, hang up!) and determine that your Debt Management Program will be approximately $550/month, which includes their montly fee as well as an enrollment or set up fee to get started!  

But,  if you have an extra $150 (that you could use to qualify for the Debt Management Program), you would be debt free in about 48 months and save thousands of dollars in interst and fees.

Not bad at all, but there is another option.

Debt Roll-Up or Snowball Plan

If you have the extra money, and the self discipline to set up and follow a Debt Roll Up/Snowball Plan, then you should consider doing this instead of using a Debt Management Company.

Why?  Well, of that $550 required in this hypothetical Debt Management Program, $50 (or maybe a little more) may be going to the Debt Management Company to administer the plan.  Now, that's not outrageous, and if the program ends up not only saving you a lot of money in the long run and giving you peace of mind, then go for it.

But, if you are like me, I like to do things myself if at all possible and, I don't like spending a dime more than I have too!

I've written an entire blog about a Roll Up/Snowball Debt Program. Click here.

But what if you are in deep financial trouble?

Maybe you have:
  • Lost your job
  • Went through nasty divorce
  • Lost a spouse, loved one or partner
  • Been Disabled and are permanently Disabled and only receive Disablility Income
  • Are retired and the fixed income from your Social Security and/or Retirement Plan is just not enough to keep up!

Then you should check out a Debt Settlement Program.

I will be writing about that in Part 2, but if you'd like to know more now, click below:

FREE EBook Debt Settlement  Basics

Is a Debt Management Program for you?  It depends on many factors.


 


Photo credit:

Jason Rogers

 

 

Tags: credit card debt, debt snowball, debt, credit counseling, debt management, credit cards, credit card debt help portland or, snowball plan

Texas Debt Collection Exemptions

Not only are things "Bigger and Better in Texas", so is protection from debt collectors!

don't mess with texas Living in Texas (I grew up in Dallas) has a lot of advantages, but none as important as protection from debt collectors.

If you are facing overwhelming problems with too much debt and you are fortunate enough to be a Texas resident, then you have certain protection from creditors and debt collectors that other states do not offer!

 

 

For the sake of this article, I'm talking about UNSECURED DEBTS, such as:

  • Credit Cards
  • Store Credit Cards
  • Personal Loans
  • Private Student Loans
  • Medical Bills
  • "Pay-Day" Loans

When you can't make at least the required minimum payments on your unsecured debt, and miss a payment or two, here's what usually happens:

First, the original creditor (Visa, Master Card, US Bank, etc.) will most likely give you a call and send a letter reminding you that your account has become delinquent.  Sometimes the language is very...let's say, "firm or somewhat threatening".  Something like:

Dear Mr. So-n-so:

Your account with XYZ company has become seriously delinquent.  Missing payments on your account can have a negative effect on your credit report.  We understand that you may be facing a difficult time and want to work with you on this matter. 

Please give one of our customer service representatives a call to discuss your options. It is imperative that you bring your account current as soon as possible, to avoid legal action.


OK, so what do you do? 

If you think you will be able to get your account caught up, then give them a call to see what can be done.  Sometimes the creditor is willing to forgive late fees and other penalties if you can bring your account current.

But what if you know you can't "bring your account current"?

It has been my experience, that most people who need help with their debts are not someone who just "over-spent" foolishly.  They are people just like you and me who got into trouble. It's important to know how this process works so that you (or someone you know) is not taken advantage of by a debt collector.

There are all kinds of reasons why people get in trouble with their credit:

  • Loss of employment
  • Loss of a spouse or partner
  • Prolonged illness
  • Disability
  • Retired and on a fixed income not quite enough to keep up!
  • and many other reasons that are beyond your control!

 

After the original creditor has made many attempts to contact you by both phone and mail, they may decide to write-off or charge-off your account and transfer or sell to a debt collector.

Now the DEBT COLLECTOR starts sending "nasty" letters and making call after call!

STOP Collection Calls Free Sample Letter

If you have only missed a payment or two, and have the means to get caught up, I think it is a good idea to contact your original creditor to discuss trying to bring your account current. 

But, I do not believe it is your best interest to call a debt collector.

There are those that disagree with me on this, but my experience in dealing with debt collectors over many years has taught me that they only have one job and that is to get as much money in the shortest period of time.

They don't really care about your situation and for the most part are not sympathetic at all.  In fact, I had one of my retire clients who had also lost her husband of over 50 years tell me that a debt collector told her that she should go get a job and quit making excuses for her debts.  Really?  72 years old and a widow!  And not only that, rather than file for bankruptcy protection as she could have, she has chosen to settle as many debts as possible.

Many debt collectors are fine, professionals and you can work with them. But some are, well... you know!  So, my advice is not to try and call to explain your situation, especially if you live in Texas!


What happens if a debt collector takes LEGAL ACTION?

A debt collector has the option to FILE A COMPLAINT in your county's court.  This is a legal option they can use in order to scare or force you to pay your debt.

Once the COMPLAINT is filed, you will receive a SUMMONS.  The summons will state that the PLAINTIFF (that's the credior or debt collector) CLAIMS that you owe this debt.  It will also state that you have 30 days (some state 20 days) from the receipt of this summons to file an ANSWER.

An ANSWER is a legal brief explaining why you legitimately do not owe this debt.  There is usually a cost to file the ANSWER, and most likely you will need an attorney to file it so it is in the proper "legal" form. About 99.9% of the time, you owe the debt, so there is no need to dispute it.  The key is to know how to handle it.

I've written several blogs over the years explaining what to do if you recieve a summons.  If you live outside of Texas, I would encourage you to not only read about your options, but you will need to take action.

But hey, ya'll...if your a Texas resident, I've got good news!

The purpose of filing the claim is to get you to:

1)  Take action to pay your debt out of fear of what may happen if you don't!

2)  The debt collector hopes to be awarded a JUDGMENT, so they can either GARNISH YOUR WAGES, place a LIEN ON YOUR HOME or even LEVY YOUR BANK ACCOUNT.

In the great state of Texas, you have laws that protect you from creditors like few other states. 

Your wages cannot be garnished for unpaid, unsecured accounts, but even in Texas, they can be garnished for child support or alimony, unpaid taxes and defaulted student loans, so be advised!

Your home is also protected from a lien with a wonderful Texas Homestead Protection!

Although there a some restrictions to the homestead law, basically it means that a creditor cannot apply a lien against your property for unpaid, unsecured debts.

So, your wages and home are protected in Texas, what about your bank account?

As in all states, if your only source of income is from Social Security and/or a Retirement Plan or Fund, Disabily Income, etc. and those monies are directly deposited in your bank account, THEY ARE EXEMPT FROM GARNISHMENT OR LEVY.

HOWEVER, although your wages are exempt in Texas, once they are deposited in your bank account, they would be subject to a garnishment or levy (after a judgment is awarded to the creditor)!

I advise any client who has earned income to NOT DEPOSIT to your bank account with a judgment against you!  I know it can be a hassle, but think about what it would be like to start bouncing checks on Monday after your bank account was FROZEN over the weekend!

Bottom line for all of you Texas Residents:

  • Your home (including a mobile or manufactured home) is exempt from a LIEN
  • Your wages are exempt from garnishment
  • But, you need to take caution with your bank account!

 

Photo credit: 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/tomjmac/3695294596



Tags: debt collection, credit card debt, debt settlement in Texas, exemptions, can a creditor levy my bank account, can social security be garnished, can a debt collector garnish retirement income, debt collection in texas, debt relief in Texas, exemption from garnishment

Do I Have to Respond to a Summons?

If you have debts that are delinquent, you may get a summons.  Do you have to respond to a summons?

 

Fear

The simple answer is "no", but that doesn't mean you should ignore a summons!

If you have so much debt that you cannot keep up with the payments, at some point, some or all of these debts will become "past due", "delinquent", or "charged off" for non payment.

In some cases, the original creditor or the debt collector or debt buyer may decide to retain an attorney to file a claim against you.

Here's what usually happens:

When you miss a payment or two, you start to get the phone calls and letters.  This is the original creditor trying to get you to start making the payments again.  During the first 60-90 days, the account most likely stays with the original creditor as they continually try to get you to start making payments.

As annoying as the phone calls are, you cannot legally stop the calls as long as the account is still with the original creditor.  You can, however, choose to ignore the calls, but this is not your best tactic.

You can answer the phone and try to explain your situation, but this is usually a waste of time.  It would be better for you to write the original creditor and briefly explain your financial circumstances and that you fully intend to repay this debt, but cannot do anything at this time.

This may or may not buy you some time.  Most likely, the original creditor will offer you some kind of HARDSHIP PLAN, but BEWARE!  Most Hardship Plan offers only delay the inevitable...you will have to repay 100% of this debt plus interest, late fees, annual fees and possibly over-the-limit penalties!

If the original Creditor is unsuccessful in getting you to start paying, they may decide to place the account with a DEBT COLLECTOR.  Here where things are starting to get really serious.

At first, you'll receive some letters, telling you what you already know...

                                  THIS ACCOUNT IS PAST DUE!

It will explain that you must bring you account up to date or face serious consequences (or something like that).

Then, the phone calls start!  Although the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act has helped stop many ruthless and harassing debt collectors, they are still out there!

According to the FDCPA, you have the legal right to make them stop calling you!

Click below:

STOP Collection Calls Free Sample Letter

But now that the calls have stopped, the original creditor, the debt collector or debt purchaser may decide to take legal action.

A word about DEBT BUYERS:

When a debt goes unpaid for a long time and a debt collector (or several debt collectors) are unsuccessful collecting the debt, it normally will be charged off as "uncollectable".  There are thousands upon thousands of these debts out there and there is are companies who will buy large groups or lots of debt at pennies on the dollar, planning on getting paid on enough to make a profit.

So, if they decide to have a claim filed, they would retain an attorney (licensed in your state) to file a COMPLAINT in your county courthouse.

By-the-way...

It's not always logical when or why a debt collector or debt buyer decides to file a claim.

If you are retired, disabled, or unemployed, you are going to be exempt from wage or bank garnishment. 

Back to the process:

The court will prepare a SUMMONS, and it will SERVED or delivered to you.  This is usually done by a sheriff or company paid to serve the summons.  Some people think that they can avoid receiving the summons by not answering the door or by lying to the person or sheriff trying to serve the summons.

I don't advocate this tactic, as you could face legal charges for not telling the truth, and eventually, you will be served.  You may be able to "buy some time".

If you can come up with a lump sum of approximately 50%-75% of the amount of the claim, they may accept that as a settlement.  The amount they are willing to accept will depend on several factors, specifically your financial situation:

  • employed (W-2 or self employed)
  • unemployed
  • retired
  • disabled
  • buying or renting

If you are exempt from wage or bank levy, but are a home owner (or have significant equity in your home), you may want to get this account settled to avoid a lien being placed on your property.

If you do not have funds available to offer a lump sum settlement, in most cases, you will be able to arrange a repayment of the debt by making monthly payments.  Sometimes, this will be called a STIPULATED AGREEMENT before or after a judgment.  As long as you complete the terms of the agreement, no further legal action will happen.

On the other hand, if you start such an agreement and miss a payment, they may deem the agreement "VOID", and start the legal process again!

BOTTOM LINE...

It is not in your best interest to ignore a summons! 

In fact, if you are in a stressful financial situation, take action before your account(s) go this far!  Your chances of successful negotiation are much better if you can get something worked out BEFORE a judgment is awarded!

 


Photo credit: Kevin B 3



 

 

 

 

Kevin B 3

Tags: fair debt collection practices act, credit card debt, debt settlement, summons, how to prevent wage garnishment, exempt income

What Would it Feel Like if You Were DEBT FREE?

If you are living with the stress of too much debt, I have a question...what would you feel like if you were DEBT FREE?.  Regardless of your financial circumstances, you can be DEBT FREE...     How would that feel?

If you were to do a search about the average family debt in America, you would get statistics all over the board.  But, if you were to average them out, here is a basic picture of the average American family's debt:

  • Total debt per family                       $ 17,500
  • Credit card debt                              $   7,500

Now let's think about that for a minute.  If these are the averages, that means that some households have much lower over-all debt and therefore lower credit card debt. 

But on the other hand, that means that some households have much higher over-all debt and therefore much higher credit card debt!  After helping people solve their debt issues for over 10 years, I have found that our average client has credit card debt that totals about $25,000!

Big question...

debt freeHOW WOULD YOU FEEL IF YOU WERE DEBT FREE ? ? ?

Have you ever thought about it?

I'm not talking about dreaming about winning the   lottery, but finally paying off everything and everybody you owe!

No debt...zero...nada !

 

 

  • No more waking up in the middle of the night worrying about the bills!
  • No more standing at the check out counter and praying the card is not declined!
  • No more making excuses because you really can't afford to go with your friends!
  • No more dreading the end of the month,knowing there is not enough to pay all the bills!
  • Get the idea???  NO MORE ! ! !

I was talking to a good friend of mine about this and he said that to him, being DEBT FREE is better than about anything you could imagine!  I think he's right!

When you under the burden, pressure and stress of DEBT, you really can't enjoy life

I mean, what good is driving a new car if you know you really can't afford it?  Sure, you have a nice big home, but the truth is, you can barely keep up with the payments, much less pay for any maintenance or additional "trimmings". 

OK...I think I've made my point.  Are you ready be Debt Free?

Or...are you ready to...FEEL WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BE

DEBT FREE?

 

DEBT FREE SHACKLES

 

STEP ONE

It's time to get down to business...financial responsibility.  (Really...has it come to that?)  Financial responsibility starts with an honest accounting for every dollar that comes in, but most important, that goes out.

Yep, the old BASIC HOUSEHOLD BUDGET.

List everything you are spending money on.  Not just the big items like rent or mortgage, car payment, groceries and utilities... I said you have to be honest!

What about:

  • Daily latte at Starbucks?  Really?  At $4 -$5 per day?
  • Health club membership you rarely use?  Seriously?
  • Buying lunch out instead of making a sandwich?
  • OK...I know I may be over stepping, but what about that smoking habit?  At $5/pack?
  • And yes, you better address all the other little "things" that can really add up!

It's time...and you know it.  Budget Worksheet FREE Download here!

STEP TWO

Now that you've found a few (or several) extra dollars from getting rid of some, if not all, of your "wasteful spending habits", you can start down the road to financial freedom!

Depending on your individual financial circumstances, you most likely will be a candidate for one of the following programs:

  • Debt "Roll-Up" or Snowball Plan
  • Debt Settlement
  • and if none of the above works...Bankruptcy

A DEBT "ROLL-UP" OR Snowball Plan

If you have found an extra $100 or more from making cuts from you "out-go" in the budget and, you have the self discipline to follow through with the program, this might just work for you.

Basically, you are going to list all of your unsecured debt (you can do all debts, but for now let's just tackle the unsecured ones).

List from the smallest balance to the largest balance.  Don't worry about interest rates now.

Le't say the smallest balance requires a $50/month minimum payment and you have an extra $200 (from all of the $ you were wasting).  You are going to pay $250 towards this balance until it is paid off.

After it is paid off, you are going to start on the next balance.  Let's say you have been making $100/month as a minimum payment on this one.  Now, you are going to add the $250 from paying off the first balance to the normal $100 for a total of $350 going after this second balance.

Once it's paid off, you're going to add $350 to whatever the minimum payment is on the next balance...and so on...and so on.

Guess what?  You're going to have all of these unsecured debts paid off before you know it!

HOW'S THAT GONNA FEEL???

Oh yeah, baby!!!

And since this worked so well on the unsecured debts, what about adding the extra money you now have from paying all of them off to your mortgage or student loans?  Wow!

Need some help with this?

 

If you don't have any extra money or if it seems a little "overwhelming", then you should consider a DEBT SETTLEMENT PLAN.

Debt Settlement is for people who, because of circumstances beyond their control, find themsleves in serious debt.  If you can't afford the minimum payments on all of your unsecured debts and/or some have been turned over to a debt collector, you would profit from a Debt Settlement Plan.

Debt collectors are usually willing to accept less than the balance due because of your financial hardship.  This can be 50% or more, again, depending on several factors.

Once the balance has been negotiated and the debt settlement agreement is paid per the debt settlement agreemenet, this account will be noted on your credit report as "paid-in-full" or "paid-as-agreed" or even "settled at less than the balance due". Regardless, the balance is ZERO....$0.

Recent Settlements See what we have  done for our clients!

Let me ask you again...

HOW'S IT GONNA FEEL TO BE DEBT FREE!!!

OK, let's say that things are so bad you can't take advantage of the Debt "Roll-UP" Plan or even the Debt Settlement Plan, then you should consider Bankruptcy.

You will need to find a compentent bankruptcy attorney, but be careful!  You should interview two or three in your area and get some references.

You should not have to pay too much up-front for their services and you should not have to pay anything for the initial consultation.

But even if you have no choice but to file for bankruptcy, life is not over!  The bankruptcy process is not as bad as you imagine.  In fact, once it is completed, not only will you be DEBT FREE once again, you will be able to rebuild your credit a lot quicker than you think.

Sit back, close your eyes...one more time, let me ask you...

HOW WOULD YOU FEEL IF YOU WERE DEBT FREE?

Then do something about it...

 

Photos by eric731

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: credit card debt, debt snowball, debt settlement, Bankruptcy, debt, debt free, debt and stress