Debt Management Strategies

Kathy Burns-Millyard

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It's that time of the month again - and you hate it. You're stressed, worried, grouchy - and all because of a pile of bills sitting on your desk. It's always the same; you juggle money around to pay whatever you can, and hope that next month it will somehow all be better. Maybe it's time to take a deep breath, admit you need to make some changes, and educate yourself on debt management.

Debt management is a course of action you will take to lower your debt, and eventually, eliminate it. This is done by learning how to manage your money, how to deal with creditors, and how to create and use a functional budget. The package is simply called a debt management plan. You can work to create your own debt management plan or you can contact a credit counseling agency about assisting you. Regardless of your choice, a debt management plan will likely include the following:

Education on budgeting and financial planning. It is essential to learn where you went wrong and how to fix those areas for the future. If you choose a credit counseling agency, they will work with you to teach you what you need to know. If you go it alone, you'll need to take the steps to educate yourself - whether by purchasing books, software, or even taking a class.

Some type of debt settlement with your creditors. Depending on how far in arrears you are will greatly affect what type of debt settlement your creditors will agree to. They're not as likely to offer to settle for a greatly reduced amount if you are on time with minimum payments; however, if you're considerably late, that's a different story altogether.

If you're 90 to 120 days late on payments, they may offer you a one-time payout settlement. Basically, you pay off a predetermined portion of the debt and the creditor writes the remaining unpaid portion off. However, if you're only 60 days late, they are probably going to offer you a hardship program. This is where they close the account to any additional charges and set up a payment plan with smaller payments than you were paying before. They may even lower your interest rate to assist in the overall debt equation. Realize that any sort of debt settlement will show up on your credit report as a negative rating; though paying on time will show as a positive.

Also, if you decide to use a credit counseling agency, there is an added incentive. They can work as a liaison between you and your creditors to fine-tune any debt settlement agreements. Then, you would pay the agency one monthly payment and they would, in turn, pay each of your lenders. It may be less stressful to write one check to one agency per month instead of many checks to various creditors.

A solid debt management plan needs to have the above elements to be successful. However, each individual's debt situation is unique and there may be additional options available as you continue to educate yourself on managing your debt. If you feel you need more information than you can gather on your own, don't hesitate in seeking the proper assistance in creating a debt management plan tailored specifically for you.

© 2006, Kathy Burns-Millyard. Do you need solutions to your debt problems right now? Visit for help. Also be sure to visit for more debt help articles, tips and advice.


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