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Three Things to Know Before Managing Your Debt

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Debt is a serious business in the United States: according to CBS News, American debt rises by $75 million each hour, creating a total of $11.13 trillion in money owed. This shocking amount has a number of causes, from medical costs to unpaid credit card debt and student loans. For this reason, many people in the U.S. will find themselves turning to debt and credit management services for debt management advice and other help. However, a select few will choose to act as their own debt manager.

In order to act as your own debt manager, you will need to have some degree of financial fluency and be willing to take time to train yourself about debt management. You will also need to be detail-oriented and prepared to handle additional debt if your plans go awry. And if you are still confident in your ability to manage your debt, you should be ready to take certain steps to protect yourself. Use this debt management advice to help you complete your debt management plans.

If you aren’t planning to work with a debt management program or service, you should expect to pay at least some portion of your debt up front; in fact, some creditors will refuse to negotiate until some money is paid. However, once discussions begin, do whatever you can to avoid committing to a payment plan that isn’t feasible for you. If a creditor offers one deal, suggest something slightly better to see if they are willing to meet your situation in the middle. Many creditors will even settle for less than the whole amount of the debt if it means reclaiming some of their money. You won’t know how far they are willing to go until you ask.

Prepare to Work With a Lawyer
In many cases, a credit company will bring in a lawyer only when a debtor owes a significant amount of money. But even if the creditor does not seek legal help, you may find it helpful to hire an attorney with experience in financial matters or even a representative from a debt relief agency to prevent a lawsuit or other problems that can hamper successful negotiations.

Make Sure the Process is Documented
If you reach an agreement, request that your credit report include terms like “paid in full,” “debt satisfied” or “fully paid,” as statements showing that the debt is still active can only cause problems for you in the long run. Likewise, making credit payments through money orders can help provide proof of payment while preventing a creditor from obtaining your bank account information. By creating a paper trail, you can better defend yourself in the event of legal action and also certify that your debt management plan has been successful.

Statistic Brain reports that the average American household has $117,951 worth of debt. With such a large amount, it’s natural to feel as if you should work out a way to recover from this financial situation yourself. However, managing your own debt can often be more complicated, expensive and confusing than working with a debt relief center, especially if it results in legal action. Don’t be afraid to take on the challenge yourself, but you also shouldn’t be afraid to seek help if you need it. Begin your negotiation process, but if your self-management plans go awry, seek debt management advice from a program near you.

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