Need help to reduce your bills? What kind of credit or debt relief can you afford?

Is your current monthly cash flow either now, or in the near future, not enough to meet your monthly debt obligations while allowing for a set amount of savings taken from income each month? If not, you are currently, or soon could be, in a financial bind.

What can you do about it? What is the right debt solution?

Providing an answer to these two critical questions often requires a detailed individual analysis that is best delivered one on one. That said, here is a list of general questions and criteria to help you determine which path is most suited to your specific set of circumstances when starting on your journey to healthier finances:

Will Debt Roll Up (Debt Snowball) Work For Me?

Can you consistently pay 20% or more over your minimum payment toward your unsecured debt each and every month? If yes, a debt roll up program (sometimes referred to as debt snowball) can work for you.

Can I Consolidate My Credit Credit Card and Other Unsecured Debt Into One Debt Consolidation Loan?

The goal with debt consolidation is to take multiple higher interest credit card debts and consolidate them into one loan, with one payment, at a lower interest rate. In today’s tightened credit markets, it is increasingly difficult to get approved for a debt consolidation loan with major banks, especially when already carrying too much debt. If you have a credit score of 660 or higher, you may be able to qualify for a peer to peer loan through LendingClub. I will have more on LendingClub in an upcoming post.

Will a Credit Counseling Service Debt Management Plan Work for Me?

Can you consistently (without any skepticism) pay roughly 2 to 2.5% of your current credit card balances monthly? Can you commit to doing so for the next 5 years? If yes, look into credit counseling where you can lower your monthly payments through available interest rate reduction programs.

Here is a simple tool you can use to calculate what your debt payments are just making the minimum payments compared to the average lower payment with credit counseling. Compare the monthly payments and time it will take to be credit card debt free in the red, yellow, and green sections.

Will a Debt Settlement Plan Work For Me?

Can you identify sources of funds in order to raise approximately 50% of your current balances over the course of a set period of time? If so, debt settlement can work for you. If not, look into bankruptcy.

Typical sources of money you can seek in order to fund credit card debts you settle:

  • monthly savings
  • supplemental funds from home equity
  • retirement accounts (IRA, 401k, etc.)
  • insurance policies or annuities
  • sale of unneeded vehicles or household items
  • private assistance from friends and family
  • side jobs
  • tax refunds.

Should I File Bankruptcy in order to shed debts I cannot afford to keep current?

Can you qualify for chapter 7 given your states median income means test? If so, will chapter 7 force the sale of your home or other items of value that could have been sold and assisted in funding settlements in the prescribed debt settlement program time frame thereby allowing you to stave off filing for bankruptcy? Consult with an experienced local bankruptcy attorney and find out.

Bankruptcy is too often incorrectly considered a consumers last resort when dealing with problem debt. For many, it will prove to be the most obvious solution and option of first resort. Chapter 7 bankruptcy provides the most immediate relief and the quickest path to a financial fresh start.

You need to learn how each of these options fits in with your current financial ability and you’re future goals. Choosing the correct path at the beginning of this journey could mean the difference in reaching your destination, or remaining lost in a jungle of debt.

If you need a guide and reliable directions, consider CRN membership.

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Food Stamps Responsible Corporate Citizenship and Bacon Cheeseburgers

I have long had an addiction to reading economic blogs. I mostly visit blogs and sites that have daily commentary while enjoying my morning coffee. The sites that I visit tend to have a no holds barred approach in their writing and commentary on daily economic trends. One such blog I have enjoyed reading on a near daily basis for several years now is: http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/

Mish has a post up today: Food Stamp Usage Up Nationally

It shows my state of Idaho having the largest year over year increase in residents receiving food stamps, or what is now referred to as SNAP. SNAP stands for: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Reading the post was timely for me, as you will understand in a moment. After reading some of the comments to the above linked post by Mish, I was motivated to post a comment of my own.

I am writing this post and sharing the contents of my comment with readers of DebtBytes because many may not know the policy we at Consumer Recovery Network adopted to help feed those who often go hungry inside the communities of many of our customers across the nation.

Here is the comment I left:

“I have been reading Mish for years and assume this post is intended as a real time representation of deflation.

Reading the comments (and the fact that I am really hungry right now), prompted me to add to the discussion.

Today my family is participating in “Feel the Hunger“.
I made my daughters each a 1/2 cup of rice before school. It’s all they get to eat for the whole day. My youngest ate 2 tbls prior to leaving and took the rest with her. My oldest held off from eating any, but took the full 1/2 cup with her.
All I can think of right now is bacon…

There are many locals in my small North Idaho town participating.

This is a good learning tool for my daughters.

There are local answers to hunger, but they depend upon the participation of those better situated.

The work I do at my company focuses on assisting mostly middle class families in financial turmoil. For those suitable to use the approach we advocate, we provide a good alternative to bankruptcy (mostly alternative to chapter 13). Our fee since opening our doors for any direct hands on service is wholly contingent upon our success. In over 20 states we do not collect the fee, but still provide the service. In lieu of collecting the fee we encourage our customers donate the calculated fee to low income legal aid in their area, or to their local food bank in the form of nonperishable food items.

We are not a nonprofit. We like profit as much as the next guy, but we keep our fees low and our results and retention high. Our reputation is exemplary in an industry known to scam and leave people in a lurch.

We do the work we do, the way we do, for a myriad of reasons.

We do not advertise, as the cost would be borne by our customers who are not in the best position to fund higher fees. We mostly rely on word of mouth and organic exposure.

My point: Be part of the solution when and wherever you can.

Man… I could go for burger right now…”

The people we help here in Idaho and in Mish’s state of Illinois are included in that list of over 20 states where we encourage donations to those in need.

I will cover why we designate low income legal aid offices as donation recipients in a later post.

Companies like Consumer Recovery Network exemplify, in our chosen unique way, good corporate citizenship. If you have the ability, next time you stop for groceries, consider picking up a few extra food items and drop them off at your local food bank.

Oh, and if you happen to be in Sandpoint Idaho, I could go for a bacon cheeseburger right now….

Double Oh, check out Mish’s blog. He gives a rip about the state of economic affairs in this country.

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When to Request Debt Validation From a Debt Collector

The debt validation and verification topic is deserving of much more time than I am going to give it in this post. I am covering this briefly due to the question I received yesterday after publishing part of our charge off series. where one of the bullet items states:

“Avoid some of the nut job advice on the internet about handling this stage of collection”

Requesting validation of debt is a consumers right under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). More specifically section 1692g of the Act.

Debt validation requests have absolute applicability in many circumstances. You have the right to ask that a debt be validated if you do not think you owe it, or the amount asserted as due and owing is in question. In fact, your right to dispute a debt and request it be validated is required to be spelled out to you in virtually every debt collection letter you may receive from a collection company. That makes it pretty damn important!

I do not disagree with those who point to the importance of it. I absolutely disagree with nut jobs on the internet who wax on and on about how you should always request validation NO MATTER WHAT!

Here is the deal with debt validation requests by someone who wants to resolve a debt:

Don’t do it. It can back fire.

What do I mean by back fire?

Let me be clear here; I am talking about a person who wants to RESOLVE a debt placed with a debt collection agency after charge off who knows they legitimately owe the debt. When sending in a debt validation request in response to a dunning letter you receive from a debt collector, who is simply an assignee of your creditor, you may see your file get immediately kicked back to the creditor. Your creditor may then decide to escalate your account for more aggressive action such as placing the account with a debt collection law firm, which can then lead to you being sued in order to get you to pay credit card debt and other loans.

See, it backfires. Not all the time, but do you take that chance if all you want to do is get the debt behind you and move on with your life? Settling the debt while it is with the debt collection agency would allow you to put the matter to rest.

I should point out that requesting debt validation can be a useful tool when navigating tough financial times. For someone who cannot access the needed money, or commit to a payment plan due to limited resources, or who does not want to file bankruptcy, or needs to delay filing for some reason, debt validation has its place. Also, disputing a debt or requesting validation has great applicability when dealing with a debt buyer.

As an aside:

Consumer advocate organizations have been vocal about the need for the Fair Debt Collection laws to be updated. The FTC announced the need to update the law. The FTC effectively subpoenaed the largest debt buyers in the nation earlier this year. Collection laws and practices are being looked at in detail. This scrutiny will almost certainly result in changes to the 30 plus year old consumer protection law, bringing it current with the realities of today’s society and advances in technology. I will go out on a limb and suggest that changes to federal debt collection laws will lead to changes in how debts are assigned and what information gets passed on to a debt buyer. As a result, debt buyers will more readily be able to validate debts upon request.

If you would like to ask a question about unpaid debt and what options may be best considered for dealing with your circumstances; Click here and ask your question. Your question will be answered by an experienced professional for FREE.

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