Debt - Resources
Given the availability of credit and the passionate consumer culture of the 21st century, it is hardly surprising that we are taking on more debt and at earlier ages than ever before.
Thirty years ago, taking out a mortgage was something women were nervous about and took very seriously. Today huge numbers of women have a mortgage secured on their home and accept it as a matter of fact.
The use of credit cards has also exploded over the last few decades. Out of a random sample of 3 million Americal consumers (included in Experians's National Score Index) 51% of them have at least 2 credit cards and 14% of them have 10 or more credit cards. Americans carry about $5,800 of credit card debt from one month to another according to Cardweb.com.
Nearly 34 million people have been late making a credit card payment and 18 million people have missed a payment entirely. MOre than 13 million adults report that their household carries credit card debt of $10,000 or more from month to month and the same number have debts in collection, are seriously filing for bankruptcy, or have already done so within the past three years.
There are all sorts of theories about why we spend money we do not have. Whatever the theories, it is a fact that overwhelming debt can cause great shame and frustration for many women. It doen't take a reckless person or a wild spending spree to create a debt crisis. Loss of income due to unavoidable situation such as death of a partner, divorce, redundancy or long term sickness can spark a crisis. Often it is simply an accumation of debt that causes the problem. This can creep up on us, in the form of a number of store cards or a couple of credit cards and some buy now pay later offers. When we add them all up we are shocked by the total accumulated debt that we are carrying.
Thirty years ago it was much harder to get into this situation. Credit cards were not the norm back then. They were less dangerous option available to get what you wanted on a drip feed basis and without the high interest payments. Many countries had their own version of these alternative payment methods. Stores would run their own savings clubs or scheme whereby you paid a deposit on the item and then paid it off as you could afford to do. Once the final balance was paid you could then take the goods home.
These systems were readily available in the majority of stores and were an accepted way of securing what you wanted and paying for it. Today the buy now pay later credit arrangements are very different. They are backed by finance companies and impose hefty interest penalties if you fail to pay on time. They involve credit checks and of course offer you a credit limit way above the value of the item you originally purchase. It is a huge lure to make you spend more than you bargained for.
In the current economic climate it may be a good time to revisit the in store clubs and lay by systems. Governments really wanting to get to grips with the credit epidemic could do well to give incentives to the stores offering these schemes.
If you have problem debts - Act NOW
Whatever the cause of your debts it is vitally important that you do not avoid the situation. Many women get into serious problems because they leave it too long before contacting their creditors. Don't worry if it seems a bit daunting at first. Visit our learning centre and take the free online debt course. Take it one step at a time and follow our 5 step process.
Step One - Your Income
Work out all the money you have coming in, so you know just how much you have to spend in total.
Step Two - Your Outgoings
Work out all your regular outgoings other than your debts. Don't forget to include things you only pay for once or twice a year.
Step Three - Your Priority Debts
Which debts are the most important to pay first? Anything that is secured on your home has a priority. Then take a look at credit cards or other loans that are accruing the highest interest and tackle them.
Step Four - What is left for the debts?
Work our how much you have left after making arrangements to pay your priority debts.
Companies that charge for debt advice.
The television and internet are littered with adverts that promise a quick and easy way to get out of debt. These commercial so called debt settlement companies advertise to reduce your debts in some cases by 75% by talking to your creditors. Whilst some geniune companies exist in this field, some adverts are misleading. These do not make clear that you need to pay the settlement company a large upfront fee. Be very careful to look at what the company is promising to do for you before sending any money. Some of these companies say they will get creditors to write off part of your debt but probably this may not happen. Unless you have special circumstances that is unlikely.
Free debt advice
Professional advice on dealing with your debts is always available free from non profit making agencies such as the National Foundation for Credit counseling on 1 - 800 388 2227. They are available in every state and provide free independent services.
In conjunction with corporate bailouts and various relief programs to help mitigate the mortgage crisis, the Federal government has also instituted new policies to help individuals struggling with tax debt or mortagage debt. Consulting with an accountant or a financial planner familiar with the new tax relief policies may signigicantly reduce your debt burden.
Although the economy may look grim at the moment, in fact it is a good time to be trying to sort out your debts. Creditors would probably be more open to a repayment offer now that say 18 months ago.
Remember you could be better spending the money you pay in fees off your debts.
Where to get help
In a recession many new debt consolidation companies spring to life. Some are offering a good service, but many will charge fees that you could do without.
If you are struggling with debt, there are many non profit services available to you. The NFCC promotes the national agenda for financially responsible behavior and builds capacity for its members to deliver the highest quality financial education and counseling services. Call 1-800-388-2227 to speak to a local counselor now. The agencies are staffed by professional certified counselors that provide online personal assistance to people who need help with stressful financial situations. Their website is www.nfc.org
US Department of Housing and Urban Development call: (202) 708-1112 or visit their website at www.hud.gov
Bill Consolidation Direct 541-420-2531
Bill Consolidation Care 800-964-0445
Bill Consolidation - 877-994-0998
Consumer debt solutions 866-231-5668
New Life Debt Relief - 888-269-0888
FIrst Choice Debt Relief - 877-956-1500
Christian Debt Consolidators 866-958-3328
Debt shield 866-902-5956
Aegis Debt Consolidation 203-438-7275
Debt America Relief 800-681-7157