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With Consumer Debt at a National high, many Americans are faced with increasing credit card interest rates, minimum monthly payments, etc. It is becoming harder and harder to meet our monthly obligations each month and many consumers are looking for answers. This article will give you a brief run-down of the options that are available today to help make the decision a little easier.
The first option is to keep doing what you are doing now. Make your monthly minimum payments, pay increasingly high COMPOUND interest and lose thousands of dollars over the course of several years doing so. According to Bankrate.com, the average household has approx. $30K in unsecured debt. Did you know that paying the minimum monthly payments will cost you $112K in interest and it will take you approx. 59 years, yes you heard correctly, YEARS to pay off? That is a definite financial choice that will put you in the poor house quicker than anything else. When you are paying interest like this, it does not even benefit you to save your money in a savings account, because the interest would not gain fast enough to offset the interest you are paying on your credit cards. So, what should you do? Consider the other options!
The next option is a Debt Consolidation. This is a generic term now being used but true debt consolidation is taking your current debt load and rolling it into a new loan, with interest over a longer period of time. You will either need some security like a home or bank account. You will pay interest that is non-compounded, which is definitely better than compound interest; however, you will spread your debt over a longer period of time and therefore shell out more cash than necessary. If you have a small debt load, under $10,000, This may be a good option for you if you dedicate yourself to making larger monthly payments than are required, paying off early if possible.
Another option is Consumer Credit Counseling . You will recognize these companies because they usually have a non-profit status. They are actually sponsored by the credit card companies themselves and they have what is called a “fair share” arrangement, meaning the credit card companies pay these companies to keep you paying them. Your money is not dispersed into an escrow account, but the cccs companies disperse it evenly amongst your creditors how they see fit.
You will not experience any relief from your monthly payment since they will stay pretty much the same. Interest rates are lowered most often, but are not completely eliminated. I have heard many complaints that payments are skipped and facts show that most enrollees in this type of program quit after the first 12-24 months. The reason being is that your credit report is negatively affected closely to that of a bankruptcy.
When lenders and loan companies see an account managed by CCCS, they view it the SAME as a BANKRUPTCY. These types of programs usually take about 5-7 years to complete. Once the program is completed, the creditors release comments about CCCS on your credit report. To Sum it up, you have no monthly savings relief, you still pay your entire debt plus interest and your credit is negatively impacted for 5-7 years.
The last option I will outline is Debt Settlement. This type of program is becoming increasingly popular because of its many benefits to consumers. Debt Settlement Companies are experts at negotiating your debt down, on average for all cards/accounts, to 40% to 70% of what you owe. One card may settle at 80%, even 100% in some cases, the next card could be 30%. The end result is an overall total average of 40% to 70% of all the cards. This will be based on who your creditors are and their criteria. Creditors are directed to speak only to Certified Debt Mediators once enrolled and the process begins.
Enrollees are set up on monthly payment plans, usually at a savings of 50% out of pocket providing immediate cash flow. You will be set up with one monthly savings amount, which will be deposited into a secured trust account at a Bank. Savings amounts are YOUR money. Settlement Companies have no access to it, beyond their fees, and neither do the creditors. It is a secure, protected trust account. This is the money, as it accumulates, that will be used to settle your debts.
The consumer will have control of their own funds throughout the whole process. The average time a consumer is in the program is 12-36 months. During this time, the creditors will be reporting late pays on the consumer's credit report while this process is going on. As settlements are reached with each creditor, the creditors will report a “settled in full,” “paid with a zero balance.” So, ultimately, at the end of the program, then your debt to income ratio will have improved and your credit will begin to heal itself for the future. In addition, you will not have the long term effect of a public record as you would with a bankruptcy.
Debt Settlement Companies do charge fees for their service, because creditors are not in alliance with DSC's and do not give them kickbacks for payments like in Consumer Credit Counseling programs. The fees average 15%-18% depending on which company you choose and the quality of service they provide. Most established firms will offer an online back office in which you can track your payments and settlement activities. Often times, fees are looked at in a negative light. But if you actually do the math, the savings still add up to substantial amounts and your credit gets back in shape pretty quickly. For instance, for $30K in debt and fees at 15% or $4500.00, you will still have an average savings of approx. $10,500. That is nothing to sneeze at! If your credit is a concern, then you must weigh your priorities.
Becoming debt free will give you many more advantages in your long term financial path, then two years with some late marks on your credit report. You may even consider credit repair after you are out of this type of program.