Check with your state’s attorney general to find a credit counselor in your area. Credit counselors can also be found through the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC). Prepare to speak with a counselor for at least 30 minutes, either over the phone, online or in person.
Prepare any critical financial information, such as your household income, monthly expenses, and overall indebtedness.
4. Participate in a debt management program.
Credit counseling agencies frequently provide debt management programs that combine monthly debt payments into a single fee that is made to the counselor, who then distributes it to your creditors.
The counselor negotiates with your creditors to potentially cut interest rates and waive or minimize fees, allowing you to gain control of your debt. Debt management programs usually run three to five years and are designed to help you get out of debt. These plans may include a one-time or monthly price unless your household income is less than 150 percent of the poverty line.
This could be a viable solution for individuals who…
- Are you feeling overwhelmed by monthly debt payments?
- Are you willing to commit to a three-year or longer payment plan?
- Are you willing to close some credit lines to limit further debt during the program?
When considering debt consolidation, compare your borrowing choices first. You can prequalify with lenders to determine whether you’d be eligible for a loan or line of credit and under what circumstances.
The pre-qualification process does not affect your credit and requires basic information such as your name, address, income, and loan amount. Prequalify with many lenders and weigh your possibilities.
Examine fees and APRs, which accurately represent your borrowing costs. Once you’ve found a lender that works for you, you can file a formal application, which will have a minor impact on your credit.
You can use your new loan or credit line to pay off your existing debt if you are authorized. Some lenders will take care of this for you.