Many people get into serious problems with the level of debt that they have to live with, and the bad news is that there is no easy way out of debt. The ways out involve hard work, saving and having a plan to get to the point where you can consider yourself debt-free. Refer to 51 Ways to Get Out of Debt for objective to-do list.
For some people this will mean clearing all debts except for the mortgage, for others they’ll want to clear that too before they feel they can breathe easy. However, as with most things in life, every person’s own perception of their financial situation is different. Some people might be quite happy paying off the minimum each month and accepting the constantly rising interest that is adding to their existing debts, others like to pay their credit cards in full every month and not incur even the smallest amount of interest.
However, most people who are reading about debt on the internet are unlikely to fit into that last category, and will have a level of debt that they are finding very difficult to handle. If you can’t seem to make any headway on your debts through strict budgeting and frugal living, it may be time to take professional advice from a debt management company.
Usually, the advice they offer comes with a fee, but they can really help take away the stress caused by the administrative hassle that comes with debt, and having them construct a plan for you can really help. For smaller amounts of debt, they may suggest a debt management plan. This is where you and the debt management company look at your income and outgoings and your existing debts, and work out a budget for you to live on, and set a fixed monthly payment that you make to the debt management company which then redistributes that payment to your creditors.
For the person in debt, this can really help take the stress out of the situation as you’ll have just one point of liaison for various debts rather than being chased by individual creditors.
If you have debts that are significantly larger, it may be that you are advised to get a debt consolidation loan but this should come with a health warning. A debt consolidation loan is basically a larger loan that you take out to pay off all your existing unsecured debts, but once those have been cleared, some people then feel tempted to start spending again before they have paid off the new loan, and end up back where they started.
However a debt consolidation loan can be a good choice if you are self-disciplined enough to handle it as interest rates are often lower than on various store and credit cards. You may be in debt for longer this way, but if you stick to the payments, you’ll work your way clear in the end.
For really serious debts, bankruptcy may be a last-resort option, but it’s not something you should even consider until you’ve tried other methods to get out of debt. And before entering into any kind of agreement with a debt management company, get some independent advice from a third party.