More than ever, people are feeling money-crunched. The holiday season brings additional challenges and stress, and the new year traditionally is a time to re-examine one’s financial situation and debts. Many people are, for the first time, facing difficulties in critical areas such as managing loan payments and dealing with home foreclosures and bankruptcy. A growing number of people are seeking professional help in navigating the management of their credit and debt. The decision to enter into a debt relief program can be a stressful one in itself. How do you decide if a debt relief program is the right solution for you? How do you decide where to go?
If you have been gathering advice and sifting through personal finance educational material, you know there are more points of view and theories on growing your savings, money-saving and managing credit and debt than one can count. You hear everything from… the ultra-frugal approach to take care of the pennies and the dollars will follow, cut back on everything, bypass that morning cup of coffee purchase, sweat over every penny at every turn, be vigilant with clipping coupons and bargain hunting, and whenever possible do-it-yourself…. to… those who say forget the pennies; save on the big-ticket items like interest rates and insurance premiums… to.. focus on growing your income… to… recognize your motivations and plan your budget to include goal-related items that you consider to be fulfilling and enjoyable and saving will be practically effortless. How do you know which approach is right?
In addition to the multiple personal finance approaches, there is an onslaught of questions to navigate through, like… which credit cards should I pay off first? Should I act on a zero-interest credit card offer? Should I consolidate my debt? Close credit accounts? Re-finance my loan? How do I effectively negotiate with my debtors and get my credit rating back in good standing? What are the differences between the various debt relief options? What are the right answers?
The truth is, what will work for you is relative to your particular situation and your abilities at any given time. So, how do you know which answer is best for you, now?
The internet, television, radio, magazines and newspapers are full of resources that provide answers; advice is everywhere – including here. SpendLessTV.com has an inventory full of helpful videos with pointers from experts that address dozens of personal finance and budgeting questions. You may be able to tackle debt management and negotiation yourself. Many people have been able to achieve this. But, perhaps you have been utilizing the many available resources in an effort to self-manage your debt, and still you feel unsettled. How do you decide if the time is right to enroll in a debt relief program?
If you answer “yes” to the following questions, a debt relief program may be for you:
- Is all the information you’ve gathered starting to seem contradictory?
- Do you feel the need for more clarity and direction?
- Even after trying, are you still living paycheck to paycheck?
- Have your savings dwindled?
- Are you feeling overwhelmed?
- Do you feel an urgent need for immediate assistance?
Should you determine that the time is right to consider a program, how do you choose where to go and who to listen to?
Here is important information from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission that you can use to help you evaluate and choose a debt relief counseling service:
- Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if the organization you are considering is positively rated or if there is a history of complaint against it.
- Are they willing to provide informative insights and educational material up front, at no charge?
- Are they willing to answer questions and discuss your personal situation with you, disclose what they might or might not be able to do for you, before you enroll?
- Are they available in person or by phone, as well as online?
- What services do they offer? Do they offer ongoing support?
- What are the qualifications of their counselors? Are they accredited or certified? By whom? If not, how were they trained?
- What are their fees?
- How are their employees compensated? Are they paid more if you sign up? If so, consider this a red flag and look elsewhere.
- How can you be assured your private information will be kept confidential and secure?
- Read everything, and ask questions before signing anything or enrolling… even online.
- More tips on selecting a credit or debt relief service at Federal Trade Commission.
There are many qualified and reputable debt relief agencies out there. While we cannot provide input on every one, we would like to draw your attention to one group we feel clearly meets this FTC criteria and more, CareOne Debt Relief. CareOne Debt Relief Services have helped over 5 million people, providing resources to help customers be financially fit. SpendLessTV.com often makes use of the CareOne Debt Relief’s easily accessible and valuable educational online resources. Their budging tools, articles, forums and blog posts are free to everyone and require no sign-up to access. We’ve gained a lot of knowledge from reading their blog posts (which we share here from time to time), and we are impressed that their founder, Bernie Dancel, their own counselors, and many of their clients readily share their own personal stories of both the challenges and successes they’ve experienced in managing debt. Here are a few blog posts offered by CareOne Debt Relief which you may find helpful:
- Free Money Management Tools: Debt Payment Pro, The Learning Center, Calculators and Budget Planner
- Money and Life Changing Events
- How to Manage Your Debt
With any financial resource you work with, monitoring your account, staying up-to-date on the progress, and making sure any of your concerns are addressed as quickly as possible remains your responsibility. It’s important to stay in touch and stay connected with whatever resource you choose.
As with any challenge, the key is to take the first step. And in the case of searching for a debt relief program, that first step is just a simple online inquiry or phone call. If you are considering a professional debt counseling service, shop around and ask questions to find a program that you feel comfortable with, and step-by-step, you will succeed.
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We only recommend brands we respect, and we are proud to be a compensated affiliate of the CareOne brand of debt relief services.