Finance Globe

U.S. financial and economic topics from several finance writers.
2 minutes reading time (482 words)

Getting Out of Debt

Many financially distressed consumers have found themselves in a bad situation over the past couple of years. It’s the sign of the times.

But consumers troubled with debt should know that the only way to get ahead of their finances is to spend less than they make, and pay their bills and credit accounts diligently.

“Credit repair” agencies often prey on consumers who are financially distressed and loaded down with debt, promising that an easy enrollment in one of their programs is all it takes to knock out money troubles.

But desperate consumers often find that they are in an even worse situation than they were before they enrolled in a costly program that did nothing to help solve their debt program.

The Federal Trade Commission has been cracking down on operations who make claims that are fraudulent, scandalous, and just plain out predatory.

These unscrupulous organizations prey on people who are in the worst situation - the ones who need every dollar they make and can least afford being scammed for their hard-earned money.

Just yesterday the FTC announced they halted three debt relief organizations who allegedly charged consumers up-front fees in the thousands of dollars but did nothing to reduce consumers’ debts as they had promised.

But while we have government agencies enforcing laws that are there to help protect consumers, they can’t catch every scoundrel that’s out there ripping people off. And even when they do find them, there are always more con-artists in line to take their place.

We have to take take responsibility for our own financial matters, and not count on some unknown agency with a TV or internet ad to help us solve our money issues.

There’s no easy way out of a mountain of debt, but it really is pretty simple: Reduce your expenditures so that you spend less than you earn, avoid putting new purchases on credit, and chip away at debts until you’ve eliminated them.

Yes, I know, easier said than done. It can be a slow process - taking months or even years to bring balances back down to zero. But it works.

Paying some company a fee to reduce your debts is rarely the best use of your limited funds; it would be much better to just pay that amount toward reducing your debt.

While legitimate debt relief companies (as opposed to the rip-off scam companies) may help you settle your debts for less, keep in mind that you can do the same thing yourself for free and use the savings towards paying your settled debts.

Remember that bankruptcy is a last resort with serious, long-term consequences. Your credit record will suffer a major blow and it will be more difficult to get new credit with fair terms in the next seven to ten years. But for those who have no other way out, it may be a reasonable solution.
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Thursday, 29 July 2021

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