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Debt Consolidation And Debt Management For Bad Credit - 5 Must-do Items

Jan 29, 2008
Anybody who is saddled with heavy debt will tell you that being in debt is not only no fun - it can be downright painful. Having too much debt can occupy your thoughts to the point where your relationships, your ability to focus at work, and your leisure time can suffer tremendously. Here are 5 must-do items for people considering debt consolidation and debt management and who have bad credit:

Item One: Nail Down How Much You Owe with a Free Debt Calculator:

Do an online search using keyword "debt consolidation calculator" and follow the steps. The good calculators will give you a choice for how to calculate what it will take to get you out of debt. The first choice allows you to ask the calculator how long it will take to pay down your debt (given the monthly payments you are willing to make, your current interest rates on loans, and your current balances). This is the way to go if you are on a relatively fixed income and just want to know how long you have before you will be debt free.

The second choice allows you to ask the calculator how much money in monthly payments will be required in order to pay down your debt within a certain number of months or years. This is the best option if you are trying to get out of debt by a certain time, such as an upcoming wedding, birth of a child, move, or job change.

Item Two: Try a Free Online Counseling Service:

There exist a number of reputable, free online communities whereby people with heavy debt can get in touch with experts who can help them figure out the best way out of debt. These services work in a number of ways, one of which is for you to post your questions about getting out of debt online and seeing what types of responses you get. And, it can be helpful just reading the questions of others like yourself who are in debt and how they are coping with their debt.

Item Three: Research Whether a Debt Consolidation Loan is Right for You:

While a debt consolidation loan is not right for everyone, it is an option well worth checking out. Here's how it works: you sign up with a consolidation loan specialist who walks you through their offerings step-by-step. They are used to dealing with people in your shoes, and they will treat you with respect given the delicate situation you are in. The service will offer to pay off all of your current creditors in exchange for a single loan which will be at a lower interest rate than most of your existing debt such as credit cards, medical bills, department store cards, student loans, and personal loans. As a bonus, consolidators will take over communication with your creditors on your behalf, so you do not need to deal with them (or collections officers!) anymore.

As a word of caution, note that debt consolidators will often try to set up a very long-term loan which may take a long time to pay off. Also, you may be asked to set up a secured loan whereby you put up your house or other items of value as collateral. Also, anytime you are dealing with large amounts of money such as is the case with debt consolidation, it is best to check out the reputation of the debt consolidation service. For example, check with the Better Business Bureau in your area and choose from a list of member companies.

Item Four: Take Advantage of Low-Interest and No-Interest Credit Cards:

While you are in the process of determining whether debt consolidation is right for you, a smart short-term fix for your debt situation is to transfer your debt from high-interest to low-interest credit cards. This is a great way to save up to $100s per month on interest payments, allowing you to shift any excess income you have toward paying down loan principals or outstanding bills. Try to avoid cards that charge you high balance transfer fees or that charge an annual fee, since those fees will eat away at some of the advantage you are enjoying by shifting your debt away from those high-interest cards.

Item Five: Improve Your Credit Score:

A stellar credit score and not being in debt go hand in hand - which is not good news to hear for people with poor credit scores and a large amount of debt. As you know, your credit (FICO) score ranges from 0 (no credit) to 850 (perfect credit score), with any score over 750 being considered excellent. Fortunately, there exist proven ways to increase your credit score by 100 to 200 points or more within periods as short as 3 months or less. To improve your credit score, start by understanding how the credit agencies calculate your score and how to improve it. Then, get on the road to improving your credit score: an improvement of even 50 points can save you $1,000s per year in interest payments, which can put you on the road to being debt free much more quickly.

Debt consolidation and debt management can be very smart moves for the savvy man, woman, or family who is saddled with too much debt. By doing a bit of homework now and taking the right actions, in a month or so you can already be on the road to a much healthier financial future.
About the Author
To become debt-free much faster than you ever thought possible, focus on raising your credit score. For insider tips on driving your credit score up as much as 249 points in less than 90 days, check out the Credit Secrets Bible: Top-Notch-Credit
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