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Debt Consolidation Explained For the Rest Of Us

By Charles Hopkins Published 06/14/2007 |

We've all seen the commercials touting that you can consolidate your debt, get out of debt, and have just one payment. To some people this doesn't mean much, however, when you are paying on more than three credit cards and the annual percentage rate keeps climbing on each of them, this starts to look extremely enticing. Detailed here, we will step through some of the processes that are entailed in this kind of program.

First off, about the commercial that the prospective customer responds to, they are only a middle man. They will collect your debt information, contact information, and have you sign a preliminary contract. Following that, you will be forwarded to the actual entity that will be handling your accounts... so don't waste too much time asking the first contact your questions, as they are likely to tell you what you want to hear - just to get you into the program so that they can get their commissions.

The reality of it all comes clear once you've made contact with the law office that will be handling your case. They will go over the details of how much you owe and to whom it is owed. Once they get in touch with your creditors, the phone calls will begin. Your creditors will be contacting you trying to settle the debts without the new entity (usually a law office) being involved. And, you are told by the law office not to respond to the creditors. It's a hassling couple of weeks until the creditors realize they must deal with the law office instead of you. But, once they get the drift, the calls will stop pretty abruptly.

Given time, your consolidated payment will accumulate into enough money for the law office to offer a settlement to one or more of your creditors. Once the settlement amount is reached for one creditor, the office will contact and ask you if you are ready to settle the debt. And then you begin the process of saving up the money again, to settle your next creditor debt. This continues until all creditors have settled for less than what they are owed... being happy that they got anything at all.

One thing that sometimes is not explained up front, is that the law office is not working for free. They will be charging you a percentage of the amount they saved you, based upon the original debt you came into their program with.

Overall, these programs will save you heartache and money. So, if you are in financial disparity, looking into debt consolidation programs may be well worth your while. Just be sure to change your spending habits to be sure the same debt problem does not happen again.

The key is to live on less than you earn. It really is as simple and plain as that. Take the steps to fix what needs fixing.