Trying to pull the trigger on a debt management company? This is one of the best debt relief options to choose if you are drowning in debt. You may have noticed all the options out there. With consumer debt already adding stress in your life, this decision can seem even more terrifying. What if I choose the wrong company? Which ones are legitimate? How can I trust them with my money and credit? All these questions can be answered with a little research! Taking the time to choose the right company is essential. Use our tips to make an informed choice about debt management companies and protect your financial future.
Do I Need Help With Debt Management?
First, let’s make sure you have done all you can to address your financial hardships. Maybe you only need to make a few adjustments to your money management style rather than getting professional help. And if you know you need help, these tips will be the new foundation for your personal finances.
List of Good Financial Habits
Here are some good financial habits to start doing today:
- Figure out what you owe – Do not live in denial and allow your debt to pile up. Write down every debt you have as well as the amount you owe. Additionally, understand the terms, interest rates and more. With this information, you can create a plan on how to best go about paying off each debt.
- Organization is key – Pull all those bills out of the drawer and get your finances in order. You may want to make a small investment in a file cabinet or another similar organizational system. Look around your house first before making a purchase! Being organized helps motivate you to create a plan to dominate your debt. You cannot start managing debt until you know the details.
- Mark your calendar – Create a calendar devoted to payments. Mark when each bill is due on your calendar and cross it off once it has been paid. Then, look into automatic bill pay to streamline your efforts.
- Look over your bills – Carefully examine your bills to see if there are ways you can reduce them. Maybe you can cut your phone, cable or grocery bill down. Get quotes from other insurance companies to save money.
- Reduce your spending – Shrink your monthly spending to help you get out of debt at a faster rate. Eliminate unnecessary spending, reduce spending in other categories. Use the savings to pay off debt. Make sure you truly need the items you are buying. Create a budget using a budgeting worksheet and stick with it each month.
If you are following all of the above steps and still feel you are not able to pay off your debt, it may be time to seek outside help. A nonprofit credit counseling agency can help. Credit counselors can take a look at your overall financial picture and determine the best options for you moving forward.
Debt Relief Options
In addition to the debt relief options listed above, Debt Management Companies can provide more impactful options with you through a credit counseling session. This is a review of your finances, plus a recommendation on how to move forward to reach your goals or find debt relief.
Additional Debt Relief Options from Debt Management Companies:
- Improve Budgeting & Financial Habits
- Enter a Debt Management Program
- Sign up for a Debt Consolidation Loan
- Pursue Debt Settlement
- File for Bankruptcy
While there are many ways to get out of debt, let’s focus on entering into a debt management program. In a debt management plan, your debt is consolidated into one monthly payment. The payment will be lower than what you would have been paying out to all of your creditors. Credit counseling agencies are a type of debt management company that can negotiate with creditors to lower interest rates and waive other fees. A debt management plan through American Consumer Credit Counseling typically gets consumers completely out of debt in 4-5 years.
Choosing the Right Debt Management Companies
Working with a debt management company is a terrific option for getting your finances back on track. There are so many companies- how can you choose the right one?
Find People Who Worked with Debt Management Companies Directly
The best way is to research the companies online, speak with people who have worked with them directly and spoke with the company. Get your answers directly.
This can also give you a good sense of what the company might be like. Were they helpful? Did they want to rush through your questions? All these things are important since you will probably work with them for a few years. Let’s review what to look for as you search for a company that can work with you to reach your goals.
Debt Management Companies Should Provide Clear Product and Services Descriptions
Reputable debt management agencies are open and honest. It should be willing to provide a clear, detailed description of its product and services. If the agency does not answer your questions or its answers are not satisfactory, that is a red flag. They will give you truthful, useful advice on how to manage your money. The agency will also help you establish a written budget and offer educational materials and financial workshops. Their goal is not to make money, but to educate and help you succeed.
Offer Reasonable Fees
The fees charged by a debt consolidation company should be reasonable. Fees vary among states and can change year-to-year. However, there should be a limit of $50/month for a debt management program. Free ongoing education on how to manage your finances should also be available. Excellent debt management companies will provide this even if you decide against entering a debt management program after going through a credit counseling session.
Debt Management Company’s Longevity and Experience
The agency should have been in business for at least seven years and be a non-profit organization. The advantage of non-profit debt consolidation companies is that they can offer their services for free or low-cost since they are funded in part by contributions from creditors. Their motivation is your success- not profits.
Final Thoughts on Debt Management Companies
By now, you should have a few final candidates. So, what is your next step? Now you can narrow down the list even further. In order to do this, contact the Better Business Bureau or your state’s Attorney General’s office to check on whether any complaints have been filed against each debt consolidation company. If there were complaints, find out how quickly the company responded. Also, find out whether the complaints were resolved appropriately. Armed with this information, you can now select the best debt management solutions provider.
If you’re struggling to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Sign up for a free credit counseling session with us today.