For thousands of people debt has become a part of their everyday life. People fall into debt in different ways: some may have lost a job while others may have experience an unexpected medical emergency that caused them to fall behind on their bills. In other instances, people may have simply overspent and got caught up in a credit card crisis. Whatever the means debt is a difficult situation, but its certainly one that can be resolved.
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Many people can consolidate debt on their own by searching for low interest rate credit cards, but they must be sure to do their research to make sure the rate will not skyrocket to an outrageous annual percentage rate (APR) after a relatively short period of time. Its wise to move the balance of current credit cards to the new, low-interest card to avoid continuous accumulated interest. However, there may be fees involved with balance transfers, so be sure to understand the consequences before making any decisions.
The due diligence process a person must conduct to understand credit cards and their rules can be the difference between drowning in debt and chipping away at it. Many people disregard the importance of investigation; they would rather place the blame on someone or something elsetheyre playing the financial blame game. For decades advertisers having been pushing the philosophy of, if people want something, then they should have it. Budgeting or living a frugal lifestyle is not a component of that message, and by association, its not a component of the supposed American Dream.
The past few years have been really tough on people who dont want to take the responsibility for their finances and, unfortunately, its been more difficult for those whove lost their jobs or suffered a medical condition. The latter may not have the access to the resources that were once available to them because of governmental budget cuts.
There is plenty of help available to people including debt consolidation companies, credit counseling agencies and the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The CFPB provides Americans with the information that they need to make proper decisions about credit, mortgages and loans while keeping an eye on the providers fairness, transparency and clarity. Credit counseling agencies help consumers consolidate their debt, give advice and offer tools on how to better manage money and form an debt-reduction plan. They also talk to creditors and negotiate lower monthly payments as well as interest rates, they can also help reduce or eliminate fees.
At the end of the day, the real answer of getting out of debt lies in peoples desire to change their spending habits. There may not be a magic potion to make debt go away, but for those people who have difficulty putting their credit cards away when theres a sale at the mall, there is a message financial responsibility, not debt, is a surer path to the American Dream. Get rid of the debt, live a more frugal lifestyle and enjoy the things that money or credit cant buy; theyre everywhere, you just have to look.
Howard Dvorkin, CPA, is the founder of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services, Inc., and the author of Credit Hell: How To Dig Out of Debt. He is also personal finance expert and consumer advocate who has been helping people for more than 15 years.