I generally begin any debt relief consultation I do with people who reach out to my company in search of help with credit card debt with this question:
“What has you reaching out to a perfect stranger? What is going on with you financially”? Then, I shut up and listen. I am sometimes the first person the caller has ever spoken to about the situation they are in.
The responses I hear vary, as does the time someone will take to outline the details of their hardship. By listening closely, I am able to hear the stress and fear they have about their credit card debt. I often hear the struggles they have gone through to try and keep current with credit card bills, or the difficulty they have had in communicating with creditors and collectors.
The other day, I heard one of the simplest and shortest answers to my initial question that I have had to date.
“My Debt Is Crippling Me.”
While this response does not provide details I generally look to key off of in order to identify the debt pieces or solutions to putting the person’s financial puzzle back together, it said a great deal in a very powerful way.
Struggles with debt and credit can feel crippling.
Overwhelming debt debilitates in the same sense that someone with a physical disability is forced to deal with every day of their lives. The stress and fear with credit card debt problems can often manifest into actual maladies. The worry and frustration about bills, and the lack of money, carries over from one day to the next. What am I going to do at the end of the month when these other bills are due? When will I ever be out of credit card debt? How did I get trapped in a home now worth far less than I owe? What if I get laid off with no savings? How would I get by with maxed out credit cards and no income?
One of the overwhelming benefits to people we talk with is that we can reduce, or even remove the stress and fear they have about their debt problem in one phone call. How do we do that?
For most debt problems, there is a debt relief solution.
This gentleman did not feel crippled when we finished talking about his problem because I plainly laid out the facts of his finances (after several additional questions to be sure), and was able to point out to him the mathematical rational solution to his debt. His solution did not involve needing to engage my company for a product or service, as he was past the point of debt settlement or a creditor sponsored hardship plan being a viable option.
He learned that, unlike someone who has a physical disability for the rest of their life, his crippling debt could actually be cured and with little fuss or expense. He was not at all excited to know that his only real option was to file for chapter 7 bankruptcy, but he saw the wisdom in doing so and hung up the phone with no fear and less stress.
I asked him before we hung up from the call “How crippling is your debt now?”.
He replied “Not at all.”
5 debt management tools that can provide a solution.
There is nearly always an answer to recover from debt. The answers do often involve tough choices and some action steps that are not exactly a thrill to take, but can be arrived at through the process of elimination. Generally, I can walk through the following things and eliminate 3 or 4 out of the 5:
- Monthly payment concessions through hardship plans.
- Debt Management Plans through a credit counseling service.
- Debt Settlement.
- Doing nothing (sometimes the right thing for brief period – couple months).
Knowledge removes the fear of the unknown, and unemotional, boring, old arithmetic is the compass to find your way to healthier finances.
My advice to anyone feeling crippled by credit card and other debt boils down to the “Four Gets”:
- Get real about your finances;
- Get informed about your debt relief options;
- Get a plan in place; and
- Get started