Debt Handling Solutions
By Charles Hopkins
Published 04/21/2006 | Finance
Sometimes debt can seem overwhelming. In those instances, or even before things get that far out of hand, get back to basics and try some of these debt handling solutions.
BASICS Lower insurance deductibles for your homeowners, renters and vehicles policies where appropriate and save money. Dont take chances on bouncing checks; instead get covered with overdraft protection and pay about the same as what it would cost for one bounced check to cover our account for an entire year. Ask your banker about packaged account services. Many offer free savings and checking accounts with free overdraft protection and checks, free online bill paying and more. When you shop, check your receipts, even for groceries. Many times items ring up at incorrect prices. Sometimes store policy allows for no errors, meaning you get the items free if it wrings up wrong. So carry along a handheld calculator or pencil with small notepad to tally up your charges.
REACH OUT- If you have medical debt, the first thing healthcare offices try to do is get you to charge the bills or refinance your home, etc. STOP. Before you take such a drastic step, check with legal counsel. There are often other steps to take first. For example, notify the billing parties and tell them you need to apply for financial aid. Many have forms to complete, and although they may be lengthy, remember theyre for free money to pay your bills. Reach out, take forms and fill them out. Then set up minimum payment arrangements for the remaining balances, even if its just 10 a month for 30 years. Healthcare bills are not like credit card debt and do not need to be reported to the credit bureau in the same manner.
Also reach out with merchandise and return any recently purchased items that you can for a refund. Credit cards and mail order companies generally allow you 30 days to inspect your purchase. Return any you can for refunds. If purchases are beyond the 30 days and for various reasons dont hold up to their end of the bargain; i.e. they broke already or never worked right to begin with, get on a letter writing campaign pronto. Write the place of purchase and copy the manufacturer, the distributor, the Better Business Bureau and your state Attorney Generals Office. State the reasons our product is faulty and that you want a refund. Its often rewarding to get help with other entities like these. No need to go it alone!
So before your debt gets out of hand, take charge and get back to basics. Put some of these debt handling solutions into practice and make the most out of what you have.