Almost all modern adults have some level of debt. Loans and credit allow us to buy our homes, our cars, our phones and most other important items for modern living. But debt can easily go from an essential, manageable part of life to an overwhelming monster that consumes us financially.
Whether it is due to medical bills, credit card debt, personal loans or all of the above, having some difficulty in managing your debt is normal. It is obviously not something we like to talk about in public or share with the neighbors, but we all feel the strain of excessive debt at one point or another. Some people are able to nip this problem in the bud and contain the problem before it goes too far, but many are not so lucky or prepared.
In these cases, debt can feel like a hole in which you are constantly climbing or digging, but unable to get your head above ground. If this sounds like your current situation, it may seem like an insurmountable problem, but there are many options available to help you get back to stable financial ground. Before you consider bankruptcy, you may be able to use one of the following techniques to work your way back to a manageable level of debt.
1. Balance Transfer
If you are able to catch your debt problem before it negatively impacts your credit, this may be the best option for you. You can find a credit card that offers zero percent interest for a promotional period and allows you to transfer all of your current debt to this card for a fee. The zero interest period is usually between 12 to 18 months, and this is an ideal option if you can pay it off within this time frame.
Make sure that you are aware of the terms and interest rate after the promotional period, in case you are unable to pay it off within that time. Aside from the transfer fee, there are not many downsides to this option, but you must have good credit to be considered.
2. Home Equity Loan
If you own your home, you can take out a line of credit on the equity that usually has a very low interest rate and use this money to pay off debts. Because of the structure of most of these loans, they can spread your debt out over a longer period, but it should allow you to get things under control.
Since this loan is secured with your home, it also poses this biggest risk, and it could even cause you to lose your house if not done responsibly. Make sure you have considered all of the risks before considering a home equity line of credit. If you are not certain that you can pay it back, you may be better off with another option.
3. Debt Consolidation Loan
Debt consolidation loans are specifically designed to provide enough money to pay off your debt at a low interest rate. These types of loans will last for a designated period of time– usually between three to five years– and allow you to roll all of your current debt into one monthly payment.
Your options for a debt consolidation loan will depend upon your credit. Obviously your options will be better with good credit, but there are also many options for unsecured debt consolidation loans for bad credit. These programs are designed specifically for the purpose of paying off your debt, and they often come with financial advisors and other helpful resources.