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.
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