Friday, October 15, 2010

Have Too Much Debt? Think smart

Five debt strategies you may want to avoid:

The first advice of experts in the field is to be sure you don't make your situation worse by making common mistakes. In particular try to avoid:
  • Paying only the minimum payment on your debt.
  • Relying on friends and family.
  • Unscrupulous credit counselors that demand cash upfront or high fees for help they promise.
  • Using new high-interest loan to pay off lower interest rate loans.
  • Declaring bankruptcy.
I've had a couple of times in my life where I had to consider these things. One after I got out of the military. After years of being in charge of millions of dollars of your taxes, and more importantly, people's lives, I felt I couldn't even get a job at MacDonald's. After I got out of college, I had been living in part on credit cards for food. After a divorce where I took all the debt and had child support payments, because I wanted my child to have all that could be available for them; even though it meant, in the beginning that I didn't eat every day.

The first time, after the military, I struggled through it all myself and eventually paid everything off. After college, I heard about a group that helped people that were over their heads in debt. They, were incredibly helpful. I couldn't believe how much they helped. They negotiated with the companies I owed, gave me a budget to follow, a single payment a month to give to them, and it was far sooner than I could ever have imagined that I was out of debt again.

The last time, was after my divorce to my son's mother. As it turned out, I went back to the same group and again, they helped me out of debt and I swore I would never get into that situation again. And I haven't. Times have been hard, as we've all been going through these past years, but I've been lucky and educated in my choices. I may only be treading water at this time, but I'm not (yet anyway) sinking.

Plus, this time, part of the reason I don't have much spending money form paycheck to paycheck, is that I have money being deposited to a 401k and other money going to my stock broker, and a little more money going into my credit union account. I love credit unions and highly suggest you having one yourself.

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