If You Need More Help Climbing Out of Debt
If you've added up all your debts, plugged them into an online debt reduction planner, and are still feeling completely overwhelmed, perhaps it's time to get in touch with a pro. Debt Counselors of America (http://www.dca.org) is a not-for-profit group that has a special program for individuals who are overburdened by debts. Its service could help you avoid more drastic actions such as bankruptcy.
Figure 3.5 The Debt Counselors of America Web site should be your first stop if you're feeling overwhelmed by your debt load.
When you visit the DCA Web site, click the One-Pay link to learn more about this service. When you enroll, DCA works with your creditors to help stop collection calls and organize your debts into one manageable monthly payment. Often, they can get the interest rates you pay significantly reduced or eliminated, as well.
If you decide to work with a credit- counseling agency such as Debt Counselors of America, some creditors may add a comment to your credit report that indicates you are working with a payment service. This negative factor is certainly not worse than filing for bankruptcy, however.
If you enroll in the DCA's program, you will have access to your account information on their Web site to see complete information about payments received and individual payments sent to creditors.
The Debt Counselors of America Web site features plenty of materials and publications to help you learn more about ways you can deal with unpleasant experiences like bankruptcy, repossession, and collection agencies.
Unless you get your debts under control, your saving and investing plan will be impossibly bogged down.
Develop a plan to reduce your debt, and then stick to it. But don't put off starting a plan of regular saving--start setting aside a small amount for your long-term savings even while you whittle away at your debt load.
As a last resort before bankruptcy, consult a credit-counseling agency to help get your financial affairs in order. You can reach out to these groups on the Web, and they can help you develop a strategy to eliminate your debts.