I have around 24k of credit card debt and am living paycheck to paycheck. I am thinking about getting rid of this using a debt settlement program. Is this better than a credit counseling program? What are the differences? Which one is better?
Averi,There's quite a bit of really great info on this board if you read through past messages. Many Fools have struggled and paid down debts larger than $24k.I'm sure if you posted some more details (how many CCs, balances, monthly income, expenses..etc) the regulars around here would be more than happy to point you in the right direction.
I have around 24k of credit card debt and am living paycheck to paycheck. I am thinking about getting rid of this using a debt settlement program. Is this better than a credit counseling program? What are the differences? Which one is better? Debt settlement will completely screw up your credit for 7-10 years. It's just about as bad as bankruptcy, and you end up paying extra taxes to boot.Credit counseling companies do nothing that you cannot do for yourself for free. They also oftern screw up your credit, by not paying on your cards if the companies are willing to work with them, in hopes that they will give in.I suggest you call your creditors and work out arrangements with them, get them to lower rates, etc.
I would not go through Credit Counseling. I had thought about it until I became a fool and there is alot of great advice on this board.Take a look at the snowball spreadsheet, plug in your numbers and see how long it will take to become debt free. I was really surprised at how little amount of time it will take me (3.75 years) to get rid of $40,000 of CC debt.I have taken a part time job and completely stopped using the cards.You really have to make a committment to become debt free and stick to it. You will find a lot of advice and support here.Good LuckLisa
Pretty painful stuff. However, have you examined the habits that lead you towards that 24k of debt? My thought is that you hand this off to someone else and continue doing the same things that got you into this to begin with. Really it boils down to this: wants vs needs. A need is something that you must do regularly to keep yourself alive and well, like shelter, food. A want is merely a want. Do I really need another pair of shoes???Have you stopped using the cards? If you continue don't you only dig yourself in deeper. Give your self some money every week (like 15 dollars) and when that money is gone, don't get more. Have you examined your budget and taken away the things that are absolutely not necessary? Like cell phones, call waiting, getting the grass cut, newspaper delivery and eating out. I am sure that you are getting the idea. Have you made yourself a budget and started snowballing calculator? Have you asked for lower rates at the various cc's? Many here can tell you that if you don't do this work yourself, then you wake up and find yourself in the same situation. Good luck.Catleen
You really have to make a committment to become debt free and stick to it. You will find a lot of advice and support here.I can vouch for that. I have been struggling with the same three grand (and then some) for a few years now. It's not really the same--it's sort of like yo-yo dieting with me. I get it down to $1,000 and something happens. I even have been working a second job since September. Barely anything paid down to show for it. ARGH!Make sure you have an e-fund, too, or you'll get stuck in the same sick cycle I am.
I am thinking about getting rid of this using a debt settlement program. Is this better than a credit counseling program? What are the differences? Which one is better? First - BREATHE - then - put away the cards- shred them/freeze them/mail them to me - whatever - make them inaccessible to YOU.Change your behavior first.Read old threads with HELP as the subject matter ;-)Settling a debt is an option - not IMHO the best one.Here's how it works (using one creditor for the example)- you have $24K in CC debt - you offer the CC company $8K in exchange for closed accounts with zero balances.1) big black mark on your credit report (BIG)2) you will receive a 1099 at the end of the year in which you pay off that 8K for $16K. The Difference between what you pay and what you owe is considered income taxable at 28%. So you will also need another $4500 for the tax portion of it.Counseling is where a third party contacts the CCs and negotiates lower rates for set payment amounts in exchange for @ $10 per month per Creditor.So you are paying them to make payments for you - when that extra $20 a month should be going towards the debt.This truly is something you can do ON YOUR OWN. Just takes time and you have to resort to doing everything in writing - NO PHONE CALLS. No agreeing to anything via the phone or believing what soemone tells you - write a letter- get your offer/payment arrangement/new interest rate in writing.peace & doing it yourselft
Where can I find the "snowball spreadsheet"? Thanks - John G.
Well, somepeople can do it themselves. Several years ago I used Consumer Credit Counseling services in my community. They are a nonprofit organization, designed solely to help people get rid of consumer debt without resorting to bankruptcy. I was single, had around $8500 in debt, not including another $40,000 in student loan payments to make -- and I was making very little money at a nonprofit agency. The benefit to me was twofold: (1) they do handle the creditors for you -- which can be a daunting task and you may be too afraid to do it yourself, (2) they offered support and counseling and classes on budget management and how to use credit wisely (after you're done). It took me a little over three years to pay off those cards. But I couldn't have done it without them. Sure, I could have made those arrangements and paid the creditors -- but I hadn't done that. I paid the CCC every month (they probably even have automatic debit from your account now) and they paid my creditors. I monitored it every month, and only a couple of times in three years did they make a mistake. In the end, my credit was NOT ruined. In fact, in less than a year I was buying my first house. Yes, I had to pay them $10.00 a month to handle it, and yes, the creditors knew that I was using the service. But so what? It wasn't a black mark on my credit, and the creditors have had no trouble since sending me cards or trying to entice me to use them again. Other than an American Express card which I pay off every month, I don't use credit cards. My partner had a lot of credit card debt when we met, and systematically we have been paying them off, although I must admit that it is really hard. The best thing I can say about the nonprofit services (and I would only go to one like this) is that they do not judge you -- they've seen it all and they are compassionate people. It doesn't matter how much debt it is, or how much you make in relation to what you spend -- they will help. Good luck.
Dear averi100,Welcome to the Motley Fool!! Great question (it's one of our Hot Topics, too).In addition to the fine replies on this board, I thought you might benefit from this informative article about the credit counseling/consolidation industry written by Dayana Yochim (TMF School).http://www.fool.com/news/commentary/2003/commentary030415dy.htmGood luck, and Fool on!Karen KosoyTMF Karen
I say the best bet is try to resolve this with your creditors first. They have a vested interest in helping you succeed in paying off the debt you owe to them. You don't need anyone else's help to make that phone call. The one major benefit these Credit repair services seem to offer is the requirement that you relinquish control of your credit cards. I will admit however that I have never actually used one of these agencies but several of people I know have. This seems to be one of the more consistent requirements. Of course you don't need anyone else to do this for you either.Regaining good credit is a long uphill battle but one that is totally winnable if you stay focused on the objective. Good Luck!
First off be very carefull of the credit cousneling agencies, there are difference between and if youdo go that route, at least visit a couple if not more to compare them.I am a bankruptcy attorney. I will tell you that I see a lot of clients who have gone to credit cousneling and end up in bankruptcy. Not particularly bad in of itself, except that they wasted their time and money with no result. Unfortunately, most credit counseling agencies have a vested itnerest in enrolling people in their porgrams, so they do not always give the best advice to every person.I also would recommend contacting a couple of bankruptcy attorney and if this might be an option for you. (warning bk attorney also have a vested interest in enrolling more clients!)In regards to your credit score, bankruptcy is often a muh better option than credit counseling. Initally bankruptcy might lower a credit score more than counseling (although not as much as you would think, credit counseling is a bad mark on the credit report) However, some bankruptcys can be done in 3 1/2. If you spend a year after that working on your credit score, it will be much higher than if you are still involved in a credit counseling programs. So my advice is to definetly shop around and also consider all of your options and see which is best for your situation. I think the bankruptcy option is often overlooked on the MF boards, which is unfortunate b/c sometime that is the best option for many people.good luck,
Does the use of a Credit Counseling Service looked upon as a bad thing to do? I have heard some collectors say this is a bad thing to get into because it appears that you don't pay your bills or notresponsible. I personally feel if a person took the steps to pay back the creditor, at least it is a good faith effort to pay off that debt. thoughts?
My understanding is that credit couseling is BIG bad mark because ultimately even though you are trying to pay back upr debts you are still not honoring the terms of your original agreement. I have been tol a couple of times that for scoring purposes, a bankruptcy and credit counseling are basically the same.However, I have never received a very good verification of this. The important people to talk to here are loan officers. Any loan officer out there have any opinion on this? How much leeway can you give a person who is in credit counseling?
I have been tol a couple of times that for scoring purposes, a bankruptcy and credit counseling are basically the same.Only for purposes of getting a mortgage. It does not factor into other types of loans.Leviathan
I used the credit counseling services of BUCCS in New York City, a non-profit organization, and I found it EXTREMELY HELPFUL! I got free and clear of my $26K debt in 18 months.My situation was not that of a profligate spender suddenly waking up. I was in divorce proceedings and had no money for a good lawyer to represent my interests. My job didn't suffice for supporting myself alone plus my two kids. -- Really scary situation. Anyway, my husband and I settled that I would get the second co-op apartment we owned jointly (he stayed in our residence and had me too frightened to assert my rights). After buying out the long-term tenant (on credit) and doing basic renovations, I found myself with a $26K debt.As a newly single mother the bank had denied me a home equity credit that would have gone beyond $12K. As soon as I had my renovations finished (financed on credit cards), I called each CC company and tried to "freeze" the interest rates. I had some moderate success with that, but only for about 4 to 6 months each. I lived very frugally and had a whole repayment schedule worked out. However, it was tough.I finally went to BUCCS, who managed to reduce some CC balances to ZERO PERCENT INTEREST, other balances to 3% or 5%. BUCCS had the bargaining power that I lacked. We worked out a payment schedule, and after 18 months I was free and clear. I only kept one credit card and hardly used that.
Really? Geez... My Wife and I are currently in this to clear our debts to qualify for a mortgage. We have maybe 4000 in debt but a lot of small medical bills and some other stuff that was truned over to ccollections in the past. We had so many we figured the Debt management would be easier. What about School Loans? My wife has alot to pay back in loans.. is that looked upon as a negative debt?
sorry that was a typo. I would say about 4-$5000 in Credit card but a total debt of about $15,000. Thats not including a car that i still owe $14,000 on. I am totally ready to try to tackle this on my own but my wife doesn't see it the same way. I am trying to show her that this Debt consolidation may not be the best thing for us.. I don't but I am confused.
Does the use of a Credit Counseling Service looked upon as a bad thing to do? I have heard some collectors say this is a bad thing to get into because it appears that you don't pay your bills or notresponsible. I personally feel if a person took the steps to pay back the creditor, at least it is a good faith effort to pay off that debt. thoughts? Being in a CCCS program will only affect your credit while you are in the program. Once you have completed your program, the creditors will either voluntarily take off the notations on your credit report that refer to credit counseling, or will do so upon request. I finished a CCCS program about a year and a half ago and it took a few months to get the notations off my report, but now that they are off my credit is great.Erin
First off I cant believe how many people are so scared!.. The peoplethat say bankos are ok and ccc is not, or debt settlement is best dont really know! they just know what they hear...trust me bk is the last resort and ccc takes to long! just for the fun of it I did a debt settlement.I have perfect credit with alot of cc debt so I had the cash to doA ONE TIME CASH OFFER I had to get thought a few tiers of peoplebut I gave them a story and the $19,900.00 went to 11,055.00 andit shows that the account was closed by customer and shows debt settled.There are many reasons the debt could have be settled. and for taxesthey might send you a 1099, but there going to charge off the debt.so a flat 28% is full bore you have write offs! and I would rather havea 0 balance than a big balance! There are deals to be made you must benice,forcefull at the same time! its all about neg.!
I really don't know but here is how I look at it. The creditor is the one whom you need to speak to for a few reasons; the first is they are the ones whom you have the relationship with. By the time you call the credit service, set up a meeting with them, gather all the outstanding credit information they need, let them figure out who is most important to deal with first and then begin making the phone calls on your behalf, you may end up being an additional 30 days past due. Your creditor doesn't know any of this is going on behind the scenes, and just assumes you are continuing to neglect your debt obligation.The second is that the debt you incurred is owed. There are a myriad of laws and loop holes that bankruptcy lawyers and credit services can and will use to eliminate your debt with out actually paying it. That is terrible for everyone in the process. The creditor loses their money, they retaliate by hammering your credit report, and the rest of the world ends up paying higher interest rates to cover the loss.The third is that the creditor is the one who makes the decision what and when to put something on your credit report. If you are working with them in good faith they are by far more likely to go easy on your report. Remember, it is a heck of a lot easier to move past a 90 day past due report than a bankruptcy or absolution of debt report.
Hi all,Remember that there's a BIG difference between DEBT CONSOLIDATION and using a CREDIT COUNSELING SERVICE. For many people, debt consolidationg (refinancing all/much of consumer debt--CCs, personal loans, department store CCs etc--at a bank or credit union with very low rates) is an extremely smart move. Pay one payment at a rate as low as 7% (far cry from many CC rates of 18% and OVER) for a fixed term...you'll know exactly when you'll be debt free. And best part---your credit will look lovely!I see a lot of people (Erin--you may be an exception to the rule) saying how wonderful the CCCS places are because they don't have all that debt anymore (which feels great)...but have you seem a copy of your credit report???? Consumers are able to get one free credit report a year (see www.equifax.com or www.experian.com) to check up on our credit. It's worth a look---I found a Mastercard with a $5000 limit that I never applied for! Creditors don't just look at what you currently owe...they look at what you COULD owe (a $10,000 CC that only has $2000 on it could easily become a $10,000 debt in a matter of one swipe). The loan officers at the financial institution where I work ABSOLUTELY look "down" on CCCS places AND bankruptcies when someone is applying for a loan. Lending guidelines can be pretty strict.If you can...try to "consolidate" your consumer debt at a credit union (can you tell I work for one? credit union rates really are the best!) for fixed period of time...guarantee you'll save several hundred a month and put yourself on the fast track to becoming debt free WITH pretty credit. At least look into it before resigning yourself to CCCS!Good Luck!-Brea
I have paid down debt quickly with credit union consolidation loans. My husband and I had about $20,000 that we were making HUGE payments on- $500 a month at a very low interest rate, and we knew exactly when it would be paid off. There are a few things, however, to be careful of. One, this kind of consolidation may not be a good idea to attempt if you are considering buying a home, as the mortgage lender looks at your total committments as far as minimum payments. My husband and I made the choice to make huge monthly payments at a low interest rate but it messed with our debt/income ratio. So basically, because of this and the fact that I am newly self-employed, meant that we qualified for much less than our friends who had much more REAL debt (lower minimum payments) and earned less money than we did(I could not even use my self-employed income for consideration for getting a mortgage) But this is not necessarily a bad thing- we don't need a big house anyway- much less stress. I LOVE our low-stress condo, and we can use it as rental property in the future.
Yes, a huge difference between DEBT CONSOLIDATION and CREDIT COUNSELING.I have used DEBT Consolidation with GENUS Credit Management since July of 1997.(plug here: http://genus.org/) I was $26,000 in Debt on Credit Cards. Divorce, no Job, angry but totally Foolish about my future (well, didn't seem like it at the time). 9 credit cards total. This June of 2003 after 6 years I will BE DEBT FREE. I am making my last payment of $433 bucks. I highly recommend those GENUS guys.What I did - first I put all 9 cards on the Debt consolidation program. I called each credit company and told them to freeze my accounts and that I am moving them to Gensu for repayment. All the cards were 18% and 22% (my goodness, what a waste of capital). After 3 months on the program Genus Negotiated with the credit card companies to lower the percentage on cards by showing that I am successfully on the program and that the accounts have been frozen, the cards cut up and I will not be using them to be further in debt. This was a crucial move to renegotiate the percentage and none of this was reported on my credit report. I got 3 cards with 0%. 3 at 12%, 1 at 9% and 2 at 6%. And I set my monthly lump payment at $433 with minimum going for the low percentage and the maximum to the highest percentage. I am down to 2 cards now. Both at 0%. They will be paid off on June 18th, after 6 long years and I have a 3 inch Binder of statements to prove it. On June 18th I will make a bonefire out of all this paper and dance like a madman. I will be free. Only one more payment.
" They will be paid off on June 18th, after 6 long years and I have a 3 inch Binder of statements to prove it. On June 18th I will make a bonefire out of all this paper and dance like a madman. I will be free. Only one more payment."You ought to make copies of them all first before burning. Then, if you ever start abusing credit again, take out the notebook and read through.Stockbuyer2
Wow.ccc takes to long! just for the fun of it I did a debt settlement.I have perfect credit.... I had the cash to doA ONE TIME CASH OFFER...but I gave them a story and the $19,900.00 went to 11,055.00 and...there going to charge off the debt...There are deals to be made you must be niceSo let me get this straight.You borrowed money and bought a lot of stuff. Darn near $20K worth of stuff. Then decided that "for fun" you would force the folks you borrowed the money from, to take a loss of over $8K on the money you'd borrowed. Even though, had you wanted to, you could have paid it off in full, given a little time. It's not like you got sick and couldn't work or had huge medical bills. You just gave them a story and said, "take partial payment or nothing at all." This qualifies as being "nice."On what planet?Where I live, if I deliver $800 worth of goods but my customer then refuses to pay more than $450, I call it dishonesty and think of that customer as a swindler. He has the ability to pay in full, but won't, so I'm forced to take a loss instead of a profit. If I have many customers like that I will either have to go out of business, or make my honest customers pay higher prices in order to offset my losses from the deadbeats. Somehow I suspect that if someone did to you, what you just did to your creditors, you would be very angry rather than admiring their savvy in making a "deal" with you.Mare
Some years ago-before I discovered the Fool and began to reorient my fiscal thinking-I subscribed to Consumer Credit Counseling Services (CCCS). I was given a payment plan and told how and when to make my payments. After a month, with calls from creditors 2-3 times per week, I found out that they needed a copy of all my recent card statements. They hadn't bothered to make a copy when I showed them during my counseling sessions. This typified their handling of my case. They would contact me periodically-about once a month-to increase the amount of my payments. The breaking strain for me was when they jacked up my payment to the point where I would only have had $9.00 a week to spare. I was living at home with my parents at the time so I wasn't concerned about homelessness, but I couldn't abide having THAT SMALL an amount to live on. I borrowed some money and filed bankruptcy at that point. My advice to you is, if you're financial situation is so dire that you're considering going to a Counseling Service, don't sign up without thinking about just filing Chapter 7. Of all the stupid money tricks I've pulled, going to CCCS was hands down the most stupid.
Once I found myself in a similar situation. I consulted all the "experts" who said it could be done by negotiating with the companies. At the time I was a timid novice and the Big companies ignored and sucker punched me and my little credit. Fortunately I was able to get good honest free help from a Consumer Agency. I learned much during the process. I paid my debt down, learned to manage credit wisely, and how to stand up to the FICO score and challange the report.As with all consumer choices, research,old fashioned good record keeping and knowing thyself worked well.And I admit I became a FOOL and have not looked back! Fool On.
MareI think you may be assuming that this person got the credit/goods and then IMMEDIATELY negotiated with his creditors to lower the total debt ammount. But his note doesn't specify how long he had the debt.In my case, we've been paying off the same debt for years. One of our creditors has offered us a lump sum payoff amount. They can afford to do this, because they have already made thousands on us. Brenda
First, congrats on paying down the debt. I did Genus too, and have had no complaints. They negotiated my largest account down to 0%, the others went to 2% and 6%. The combined monthly minimum went down tremendously (even with the roughly $7 service charge each month). I was still paying more towards the principal each month than I had been when I was trying to pay back the cards at their original rates. In addition, now that I have paid in full, there is no indication on my reports that I had been in a repayment plan.When I got a bonus from work, gifts from parents, or just had a little extra cash lying around, I sent more than the minimum. I started shortly after I graduated college, with more than $10,000 on three cards. I paid off the total in less than four years. When I started the program, they told me if I made the regular payment, I'd be done in eight years. As an aside, I owed more than $30,000 on student loans; as a result of having manageable credit payments, I have never missed a payment on the student loans in five years of repayment.No one ever said you can rebuild your credit in an afternoon. But, if you are struggling with mountains of consumer debt, you probably shouldn't be looking to take on a significant new obligation (mortgage) until you have found a way to stabilize your situation. If you have the option to consolidate to a lower interest personal line of credit, I would go that route first. If not, a debt management program might be a reasonable choice.
I'll finish up my Genus program in September. We were $55,000 in debt with credit cards when we started in February 1999. Overall, I've been pleased with Genus but did have a few problems. (Admittedly, if I had read some of the articles about Genus back then that I've seen lately, I would not have sought their help.)I changed the date of my payment to Genus but didn't change the date my creditors expected their payment (no one at Genus told me I should do this until it was too late). So for one month several payments were listed as 30 days late. Since that time, I've written those creditors and all but one have removed those notations.Another time I made my payment on time to Genus but they said one of the creditors returned the payment they sent them. That was a big pain but they did get everything square without affecting my credit report.During this repayment period we've gone through a divorce. My ex took the cards in her name only so that is why I'm able to payoff the rest before the full 5 years of my payment plan is complete.Currently I've got about $2400 left to pay one creditor through Genus. My credit score is in the mid 700s and I'm pleased. I've got an e-fund and don't use credit cards at all. My only other debt is a car payment incurred late last year.Vic
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