5 ways to get debt relief from credit cards

5 Ways to Get Debt Relief from Credit Cards

Credit card debt is a problem for many Americans. For many people keeping up with monthly credit card payments is increasingly difficult. Causes vary. An illness, job loss, low income, or poor spending habits may be at the root. Spending more than you earn is very easy to do, especially with the convenience of a credit card.

If you cannot make your monthly credit card payments, act immediately! It’s easy to get caught up in increasing debt. You may not be able to break free without the help of a debt relief professional.

What types of debt relief help are available? We’ll discuss some options that may help you pay off debt. Hopefully, you can use these options to pay off your debt and start enjoying a debt free life.

What is Debt Relief?

Debt relief wipes out some, or all, of your existing debt. You may be able to negotiate, or settle, your loan amount with the creditor. You may be able to lower the interest rate or even eliminate your entire debt.

Your situation is unique, and no one method fits everyone. Explore your options carefully and pick the one that makes the most sense for your situation.

Get a Free Consultation and find out how our Debt Settlement Program can start helping you live a debt free life today!

What Are My Debt Relief Options?

  1. Make Your Monthly Payments – Use our Credit Card Interest Rate Calculator to see exactly how much you’ll be paying on interest and principal.
  2. Debt Settlement – negotiate a lower balance on your debt amount
  3. Debt Consolidation – taking out a loan to pay off other debts
  4. Debt Management – working with a credit counseling agency
  5. Bankruptcy – a legal remedy to settling out of debt. Make sure to consult a lawyer in your area for more information

The last four options come with credit consequences on your Fico score. However, not paying your debt on time may also result in negative credit consequences. The biggest benefit of paying off your debt is that you will be able to rebuild your credit later. You can improve your credit score with effort and learn better money management skills.   

There are several types of debt that can not be eliminated or settled. These include child support, student loans, and other secure loans.

What Do Debt Relief Companies Do?

Debt relief companies negotiate on your behalf with your creditors to help settle your debts. The debt specialists have worked with thousands of creditors. They know which creditors are willing to work out solutions and which are completely unwilling to settle.

Debt specialists know state and federal laws that govern lawsuits, collections, and statutes of limitation. Your debt specialist will guide you through each step of the process. The credit repair program takes two to four years and you’ll be in contact with your debt specialist at least once a month.

Once your debt is relieved, a reputable credit repair company will help you repair your credit rating. A good credit score makes it easier to buy a car, get a mortgage or even get better rates on credit cards and loans.

Steps Debt Relief Companies Take

  1. Your debt specialist will access your free annual credit report from Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. You are entitled to one report each year, but they can be confusing. A debt specialist will guide you through the report.
  2. A debt specialist will go through your budget with you to see how much you can afford to pay each month
  3. Your debt specialist will work with your creditors to help settle your debts. They may be able to lower interest rates, settle on a lower amount, or even get the entire debt erased.

Who’s the Best Debt Relief Company For Me?

Pacific Debt has an excellent track record with credit repair. In business since 2002, they are in downtown San Diego. Pacific Debt has earned an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and is a BBB Accredited Business. They have settled over $200 million dollars in consumer debt. BestCompany.com ranks them as one of the best debt settlement companies.

Pacific Debt offers a free consultation. Their debt specialists will perform an in-depth analysis of your debt and advise you on your options. They ensure that you understand all options and all the program details. Depending on your financial situation, Pacific Debt works with you to have you debt free in one to two years. The company does not make money unless your debt relief program works for you. You have nothing to lose and every to gain by contacting Pacific Debt for your free consultation.

Read real reviews from people who have used Pacific Debt to settle their credit.

A Certified Debt Counselor can help you from Drowning in Debt!

FREE CONSULTATION

How to stop drowning in credit card debt

How To Stop Drowning in Debt – A DIY Guide

Learn How To Stop Drowning in Debt Yourself

People fall into debt each day – it might just be a national epidemic. The problem with being in debt is that once you’re in, you’re in! It’s very difficult to get out of debt because it can be a financial trap.

If you can’t keep up with your credit card payments, or miss a payment, your credit will take a nose dive right into the toilet.

Cash is king, but good credit is just as important! Most people do not have cash reserves for a big purchase and must depend on credit. This is where good credit can be a godsend. Let’s discuss the necessary steps to take to keep you from drowning in debt.

Figure Out Your Debt Situation

Your first step in getting out of debt is to identify all your debt.

  • Get a copy of your credit report from annualcreditreport.com or creditreport.com. This gives you a list of all your creditors
  • Figure out the current debt amount, interest rate, monthly payment, due date and any other important information
  • Record all this so it is very clearly laid out

Once you have all the information you can make an informed decision. It might be depressing but it is important to know.

Most experts encourage you to pay off the highest interest debt first. Others suggest paying off the smallest debts first. Sometimes paying off the smallest debt makes you feel like you are making progress. It depends on your unique financial situation.

You may be able to refinance or renegotiate terms, interest rates, and other debts. Many people are drowning in student loan debt. Student loans are difficult to renegotiate, but refinancing can be done.

If you need help learning what your interest charge on purchases will be, try our finance charge calculator.

Start a budget

Next, find out where all your money is going. Write everything down. Include where your cash is going, where you use your credit card, and what you can eliminate.

This is the basis of your budget. Budgeting doesn’t have to be a chore, but it is the only way you are going to get out of debt.

Your budget should include necessary and discretionary expenses. Your budget should consider the following, although you may not have expenses in every category. Don’t forget annual expenses like car registration.

  • Housing
    • Mortgage/Rent
    • Property Taxes
    • Household Repairs
    • HOA Dues
  • Utilities
    • Electricity
    • Water
    • Heating
    • Garbage
    • Phones
    • Cable
    • Internet
  • Groceries
    • Food
    • Alcohol
    • Toiletries
    • Cleaning Supplies
  • Personal Expenses
    • Gym Memberships
    • Hair Cuts/Salon Services
    • Cosmetics
    • Babysitter/Child care
    • Child Support
    • Alimony
    • Subscriptions
  • Transportation
    • Fuel
    • Tires
    • Oil Changes
    • Maintenance
    • Parking Fees
    • Repairs
    • DMV Fees
    • Vehicle Replacement
  • Healthcare
    • Primary Care
    • Dental Care
    • Specialty Care
    • Medications
    • Medical Devices
  • Clothing
  • Gifts
  • Emergency Money
  • Entertainment Money
  • Household Supplies
  • Insurance
    • Health Insurance
    • Homeowner’s Insurance/Renter’s Insurance
    • Auto Insurance
    • Life Insurance
    • Disability Insurance
    • Identity Theft Protection
    • Longterm Care Insurance

Figure out how much you spend in each category. Be honest. If you eat out every day, include that! Now you have a good picture of where your money is going and how much/where you are spending it.

Your next step is to decide necessary and discretionary expenditures. You may have to give up eating out, drop a gym membership, or stop buying coffee for a while. It won’t be forever.

See if there are places you can cut down your necessary expenses. Could you get a less expensive car, move to a new place, or save money on other expenses?

Do What You Can Yourself

  1. Consider refinancing debt
  2. Call credit card companies, etc. and renegotiate your interest rates
  3. Drop or decrease expenses
  4. Consider consolidating debt through a home equity loan
  5. Use cash to avoid the temptation to whip out a credit card
  6. Wait 24 hours before purchasing a non-essential item
  7. Add another/better job if possible

Get Professional Help Paying Off Debt

A debt elimination agency may be able to help you set a budget, renegotiate interest rates, and teach you how to manage money more effectively.

Ask about

  • Services offered – look for a range of services
  • Free educational information
  • Developing a plan for the future
  • Fees/Contributions – get them in writing
  • Contracts or Agreements
  • State Licensing
  • Counselor qualifications and how they are paid (commission, etc)
  • Security of personal data

Getting into debt is easy. Paying off debt is what takes work and effort. Following these suggestions can definitely help you to stop drowning in debt.

A Certified Debt Counselor can help you from Drowning in Debt!

FREE CONSULTATION

Financial Anxiety

Financial Anxiety and How to Battle It

Financial Anxiety

Current internet articles, posts, and headlines are filled with descriptions of the financial issues troubling many Americans. Layoffs, tax debt, and bankruptcies can add to the financial stress, and according to the American Psychological Association (APA), it’s taking a huge toll on our health.

While the country continues to recover from the recession, many of us still feel the weight of crushing debt. Unfortunately, prolonged financial stress can negatively affect our physical, mental, and emotional health. The good news is that help is available. Options like relief from tax burdens, debt management programs, and budgeting strategies can provide hope for anyone feeling the pressure of financial stress.

Managing that stress and finding support are essential to a journey towards financial wellness. Here are some tips for battling financial anxiety:

Know Yourself

No matter what you are going through, there is one person that you can always count on — yourself. Money problems aren’t necessarily your fault. However, your attitude will be one of the greatest determining factors for success. When you are surrounded by debt, with no end in sight, you can do two things: you can worry and stress about your problems, or you can embrace the experience as an opportunity for growth and learning.

Think about your financial problems as financial bloggers think about their money problems. They look at their finances as a resource for learning; once they learn what they need to thrive, they turn around and teach others. This learn-then-teach attitude is a healthy way to approach debt and desperation. Your debt is both an obstacle to overcome and an opportunity to become financially savvy.

Look for Support

Dealing with financial issues is stressful. However, perhaps the most difficult part is accepting help (either financial or emotional) from those around you. The APA lists social support as one of the most useful tools in the journey to battle financial anxiety. The APA recommends the following strategies to grow your support network:

  • Cast a wide net. Nurture relationships with all types of people, e.g., co-workers, friends, family, religious leaders.
  • Be proactive. Be confident enough to approach others about your struggles.
  • Take advantage of technology. Use apps, blogs, and other resources available to reach others. Find the best budgeting apps to increase your savings and create a plan to escape your debt.
  • Follow your interests. Use your hobbies to connect with others.
  • Seek out peer support. Blogs are a great way to connect with people in the same situation.

Help Others

Teaching others what you learn can be an important step on your path to financial peace. Consider sharing tips, strategies, and experiences through a blog. You will discover two things when you seek to help others learn how to establish financial goals: support can be found by supporting others, and the fastest way to learn is to teach. And who knows? You may even find another career path offering online financial advice.

Aggressively Seek Financial Freedom

The options for escaping debt are as numerous as the avenues for falling into debt. You should be seeking any and all viable options for relieving your financial burdens. Debt management and debt consolidation are feasible options for those with considerable debt. Budgeting, investing, job-seeking, raise- or bonus-seeking, and side hustles are all good ways to save.

Your journey to financial wellness will likely start out slowly. Yet, if you use the right money-saving methods, then before you know it, you’ll be racing down the road to a brighter financial future.

Debt Settlement – 3 Marketing Tricks to Avoid

Debt settlement can be a stressful process, even before you enroll. Doing the research can add to your anxiety as you visit different sites, read reviews and try and determine who is the best debt settlement company for your needs. If you haven’t done so already, I suggest reading “5 Important Questions to ask Before You Sign Up.” 

As you do your research, it’s important to know that many debt settlement companies use misleading marketing tactics. To help you spot these deceptive tactics, we’ve put together a list of three common marketing tricks used by debt settlement companies.

Trick 1: Being deceptive about the fees. Most reputable companies charge no up front fees these days. In fact Federal law mandates it. If you shop around, most companies charge anywhere between 18-25% of the debt you enroll. However, some companies have recently started quoting these figures on an Annualized basis. So if the fee is 24% of the debt, but the program is 4 years, they quote “approx 6% per year.” Six percent sounds a lot better than 24% right? The fact is it’s misleading and our employees are hearing it more and more when consulting with consumers.

What Does Your Debt Relief Program Cost?

Trick 2: Bait and switch from personal loan to debt settlement. This is one of the most common tactics being used today by debt relief providers. Debt Settlement companies are sending out direct mail pieces offering a consolidation loan that sounds too good to be true. Unfortunately, it is too good to be true. After the consumer calls in to apply for the personal loan, they are told that they don’t qualify. Most consumers won’t qualify. The sales agent then presents the consumer with “good news!” The “good news” is the debt settlement program, which the consumer conveniently does qualify for. Here is an example of what these mail pieces typically look like:

Deceptive Marketing Tactics

Trick 3: All the Client Reviews are from recent enrollments. Many companies, including Pacific Debt, solicit reviews from customers on sites such as TrustPilot, BestCompany and Google. To read reviews about Pacific Debt, you can visit our website here, check out our blog or simply google “Pacific Debt reviews”. Reading actual customer reviews is a great way to hear what others are saying about a company. However, it is important to read several reviews to determine the quality of those reviews. Is the company simply asking for reviews from customers who just signed up or from those who have actually completed the program? Debt settlement is usually a 3-4 year program, so clients who have been enrolled for more than a few days are better suited to give an actual review of the service.

At Pacific Debt, we ask for reviews from new enrollments, active customers as well as recently completed clients. Some of our competitors only ask for reviews from recent enrollments. Recently enrolled customers are more inclined to hand out a 5 star review because they are happy to get help. Reviews from consumers who have experienced settlements and dealt with customer service over the course of many years, should carry more weight than reviews from brand new customers. So be mindful when you scan through the reviews of the debt settlement company you are researching, you should be able to read at least some reviews like these:

Pacific Debt is the Best Debt Relief Company

Review from BestCompany.com 3/17/18

Pacific Debt is the Best Debt Relief Company

Review from Google Feb 2018

 

So as your embark on your quest to find the best debt settlement company, please be mindful of these common misleading marketing tactics. If you’d appreciate a free evaluation of your situation, from a company that has been helping consumers for 16 years, call our team today at the number above. We can help you assess your situation and see if debt settlement is right for you. If not, we can connect you with a Trusted Partner who might be better suited to help. We are also happy to pass along some free advice and point you in the right direction.

Get Budget Help With Budget Apps

What Are The Best Budgeting Apps of 2018?

The Best Budgeting Apps of 2018

Most people believe in the power of budgeting; some people think it’s just an excuse to avoid the real solution. Richard Quinn, a retired VP of Compensation and Benefits with over 50 years of experience in managing pension and 401k plans for a fortune 200 company, offers some profound advice about budgeting. One particular thing he mentioned about budgeting apps will strike a chord with most budgeting experts. According to Quinn, “Nobody needs an app. They don’t even need a budget. They need to do a few simple things: Take their net pay and save 10% or more, throw away all credit cards, buy what you can afford only and spend all you want after fixed expenses. No budget needed.” What Quinn suggests may shock some at first, but it makes sense. Essentially what he is asking is for you to be smart with your money. Stop spending it first and start saving it first.

Yet, there remains a virtue in budgeting apps that might be overlooked in Quinn’s suggestion. What a budgeting app does is it disciplines and trains you to be the type of spender that Quinn envisions. If you have already achieved a high level of self control, you don’t need an app; in that case, as Quinn says, you don’t even need a budget. For the rest of us—those who are still learning to spend wisely and save regularly—we need a bit of help. Here are the best budgeting apps for those who need extra help in 2018.

YNAB (You Need a Budget)

Budgeting apps come in all shapes in sizes. The best one will mostly depend on your personal taste, but for Larry Ludwig, Founder of Investor Junkie, “YNAB is the clear winner.” Ludwig explains that YNAB is his favorite for its simplicity and lack of confusing “bells and whistles” and notes that “for a first time budgeter, it’s important not to intimidate them with a complicated user experience.” The app’s website explains its method in three simple steps: “Get some dollars, prioritize those dollars, and follow the plan.” Those who are in debt are often swamped by numbers and projections of how much they need to spend or save. YNAB is a simple solution to get you back on track or stay on track.

Honeyfi

One of the coolest new budgeting apps is called Honeyfi, made for not only helping one person manage finances, but helps two at the same time. Most married couples have a hard time negotiating spending limits, individual allowances, and other finance rules. In the words of Sam Schultz, Co-Founder of Honeyfi, the free app seeks to solve that problem by helping “couples save more money, pay down more debt, and make better decisions.” Featured in HuffPost, MSN, and Entrepreneur, Schultz explains that the app does “spark a lot of communication IRL” and that it also allows “users to decide how much to share with their partner for each account (balances and/or transactions).” If you’re a couple looking to manage not one, but two different budgets, Honeyfi is a great option.

Mint

According to Brian Bartold, a licensed insurance professional with VFG Associates in Livonia, MI, the best overall budgeting app is Mint. This app lets you link “everything to the app including your credit cards, bank accounts and any brokerage or IRA accounts you have.” Though it might not have the speciality in helping couples like Honeyfi, Mint allows for more in-depth budgeting. Bartold also explains that Mint “also works with TurboTax and QuickBooks, two very popular programs for managing your taxes and bills.”

Even though Mint isn’t quite as cut and dry as other apps, it does simplify more complicated budgeting issues, like losing a job or going through a divorce, in a very helpful way. This simplification is possible because the app puts all financial processes in one place. Bartold explains this, saying “you may work with an insurance agent, stock broker, someone in your 401(k) department, all while doing stuff you are doing on your own. All those things are not being managed in one specific area. Using an app that combines everything you’re doing can make planning and budgeting simpler.” Mint is a great option for those with more money to budget and more financial issues to maneuver.

PocketGuard

The best part of the PocketGuard app is that it lets users link directly to their bank accounts so that all transactions and balances are current. As opposed to many other budgeting apps, PocketGuard is more focused on spending projections than it is past history. Because of this, the app can let you know how much pocket change you have to spend on any given day or even month. The app is a great alternative to Mint or YNAB if those apps aren’t to your liking.

As Richard Quinn pointed out, the best budgeting system available is your own persistence and determination. The purpose of a budgeting app should be to make your savings methods become habitual. Whether it’s Mint, PocketGuard, Honeyfi, YNAB, or some other budgeting app, make sure you are learning self-sufficiency and responsible spending. The most efficient budgeting tool should be your habits.

 

How Katherine in Michigan Retired Debt Free

Name: Katherine

Age: 62

Location: Michigan

 

When did you enroll in our debt settlement program and how much debt were you facing?

I had about 23,0000.00 worth of debt with 2 credit cards.

Why did you choose Pacific Debt over the options and companies you researched?

When I was looking for a company, basically, I went thru and saw Pacific Debt, I called and was put in touch with Josh Hallas.  In just speaking to him and his reassurances, I knew this was the company I was supposed to deal with.  Josh explained the company and just what we would have to do and he sent me the paperwork, and that was that.

Tell us about your journey through the Pacific Debt program? Are there any special team members you would like to recognize?

I have had Josh Hallas primarily throughout my whole journey.  There was another gentleman that I was dealing with, but then I was transferred back to Josh.  The last person I dealt with was Bethany R.  She was very helpful, but I was always transferred back to Josh.

How does it feel to be debt free? What are your financial goals moving forward?

It feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and now I can retire knowing that I don’t have any financial debt hanging over my head.  That was and still is my primary goal.  Without the help of Josh and the other folks that had my case, this probably wouldn’t have been possible  – for me to retire without any debt.  I want to thank all the people at PDI who were there for me when i needed that little push to get myself out of a sticky situation.  I would recommend PDI to anyone who was in the situation.

We know we are not perfect. What suggestions or advice would you offer to help us improve our program? All advice is welcome.

I can’t think of anything that you would need to change, all of your people are very kind, courteous and helpful.  I thank them all from the bottom of my heart!!

Meet Christopher – Now Debt Free Thanks to Pacific Debt

Name: Christopher

Age: 35

Location: California

 

When did you enroll in our debt settlement program and how much debt were you facing? How did carrying all of that debt make you feel?

We enrolled March 2016 in Pacific Debt’s program, with $23,176 in debt. Carrying that much debt made it almost impossible to make ends meet. We could make only minimum payments, and would immediately be checking balances and available credit to see which card we could use next. Purchases were for necessities, not fun or frivolous items. We lived credit card limit to credit card limit.

 

Christoper, Debt Free, Pacific Debt

Tell us about your journey through the Pacific Debt program? Are there any special team members you would like to recognize?

Our journey through Pacific Debt’s program was worry free and easy. We were contacted immediately whenever something was needed, and we were informed of every step taken along the way. Brian LoBianco was amazing to work with! He took care of our account and our debts in the fastest way possible, never neglecting quality service, and ended up getting us great settlement agreements with our creditors. He was professional at all times, and we could tell that he cared about us and the assistance he provided.

 

How does it feel to be debt free? What are your financial goals moving forward?

It feels amazing to be debt free! One thing this program allowed us to do is learn how to live without using credit. By not being able to use our cards, and by lightening the load that we carried, we were able to manage our budget in a credit free way, realizing what we really needed, and what we could do without. Our financial goals are to continue to live completely free of revolving debt, not having to worry about paying high interest for what easily could have been the rest of our lives doing what we were doing before.

 

We know we are not perfect. What suggestions or advice would you offer to help us improve our program? All advice is welcome.

I honestly was completely satisfied. I will say, the first 6 months to 1 year of creditor/collector phone calls was nerve racking. Understanding that things had to get worse before they could get better was key, though it was still a time that worried us. Pacific Debt made sure we understood the process, and what to do with those calls and contacts, and that made all the difference. We knew Pacific Debt was in our corner the whole time.

Pacific Debt Inc. Debt Validation

Read Over 1300 Real Pacific Debt Client Reviews

At Pacific Debt, we’ve always focused on providing an awesome customer experience and delivering great results. Over the past 15 years, our team has settled over $200 million in consumer credit card debt and helped tens of thousands of individuals and families. Read our Pacific Debt reviews on our review page, or on the bottom of this page.

A couple of years, ago, our team started actively asking our customers to share their experiences online, so that others who are struggling with debt could see for themselves the power of our program. In that time, our customers have shared over 1300 online reviews, with an average weighted user score of 9.47 out of 10.

Consumers who are struggling with excessive credit card debt are often unsure where to turn for help. Being an Accredited Debt Relief provider is no longer good enough for consumers who are living in the age of Yelp and Amazon, where real customer feedback and reviews are easy to come by. We’ve found that these first-hand experiences, from real customers, really make a big difference for consumers who are weighing their options and evaluating different companies.

While the majority of reviews are overwhelmingly positive and validate our program, we don’t turn a blind eye to opportunities for improvement. Any negative feedback received is used as a customer service opportunity and we follow up with our clients to better understand their situation and see what can be done to turn things around for them.

Read Recent Pacific Debt Reviews

To highlight the power of our online customer reviews, here is a recent review from Marissa in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania via BestCompany.com:

“After doing some research and reading online reviews, I decided to reach out to Pacific Debt for help with my credit card and loan debt. I worked first with Rian to go over who they are as a company and how they were going to help. After being setup and starting their program, Kimberly B. became my account manager and main point of contact throughout this program. She’s awesome and keeps me in the loop regarding my account and settlement progress. It is easy to get in contact with anyone at Pacific Debt with questions or concerns. They understand your situation and answered any and all questions that I had.”

Read More of Our Reviews from our debt relief clients

For consumers interested in reading our online reviews, a compilation of our real client reviews can be found below:

What you're doing wrong with your debt

What You’re Doing Wrong With Your Debt

It’s likely that you only use credit cards to make everyday purchases. People don’t often carry around cash anymore simply because credit cards are more convenient. You might even have several cards for specific stores. You make payments here and there and wonder why all the sudden, you’re thousands of dollars in debt. $40 on gas + $100 on groceries + $5 on coffee + $15 on lunch during the week will definitely add up. I can also bet that you’re not just at the coffee shop or sandwich stand next door once a week. Then take that credit card debt and add it to your car payments, student loans and mortgage and you’re likely drowning in all the numbers next to that dollar sign. There are several ways to pay off your debt, but some methods are more effective than others. If several years have gone by and you’re still making payments on credit cards and loans, you’re probably doing something wrong.

Here are some of the common mistakes people make when paying off debt and how you can get out of that trap as soon as possible:

You don’t have a plan

It’s great that you are putting payments on your credit cards, but without a smart plan, you won’t really see your efforts pay off as much as they can. If you have several credit cards, it’s smart to make a list before you tackle them. Write down the credit card name, balance due, interest rate, minimum payment and due date. Some people have made the mistake of putting the minimum payment on all their cards or focusing on the credit card with the most balance. While this is a plan, it’s not the best one. Instead, focus on the card with the highest interest rate as that the one worth paying off first and the pay the minimum on the rest of your cards until you can solely focus on them. You’ll pay off your debt quicker in the long run when you’re paying off bigger amounts on a single card. Mainly focusing on one balance also makes your debt seem less overwhelming as opposed to throwing $50 here and there on multiple cards at the same time.

You’re missing payments

 

While you’re devising your plan, set up all your accounts to automatically pay by the due date. This will ensure that you’re not hit with late payments. If you know exactly how much will be coming out of your bank account and when, it’ll be easier to make sure you have the right amount of funds for that payment every time. You can even change the payment dates to work around your paychecks. Noting all of your debt information on paper or on a spreadsheet will help you see things in a bigger picture so you’re prepared every month. If you are charged with a late fee, call the credit card company and kindly ask if they will waive it for you. They’ll be more likely to reverse the fee if you tell them you’ll be setting your account to automatic payment, if this is your first late fee or if you’ve been a long time valued customer. It never hurts to ask.

You keep a balance on your cards to build credit

Keeping up your credit score should definitely not be a priority over paying off your debt and it’s likely that your good credit score got you into this debt in the first place. Carrying a balance on your card each month that you’re being charged interest for is actually ruining your credit. Pay off your debt now and stop worrying about hurting your credit score. There are several ways to boost your credit when it’s time, but for now, paying off these cards should be number one on your list. Also keep in mind that just because you have a high limit on your credit card doesn’t mean you should be maxing it out. A $15,000 credit limit does not equate to a shopping spree. In fact, you should be keeping your utilization rate low and your balance should not exceed 30% of your credit limit. For example, a card with a limit of $15,000 should never have more than a $4,500 balance. Doing this will definitely protect your score later.

You’re putting it off until you make more money

“When I make more money, I’ll pay this card off. When I make more money, I’ll clear all my debt. When I make more more money, life will be great.” Well when will that be? The time is now. The longer you procrastinate paying off your debt, the more debt you’ll be in. Simple as that. An emergency might come up. Your company might downsize. You might decide to pursue a different career and end up working a lower paying job until you learn the ropes. Who knows what can happen, but you don’t want to have all this debt acquiring on top of it all. Start paying off as much as you can starting now.

You don’t know your options

Stuck paying a high balance on loans you simply cannot afford right now? Got a balance with high interest rates? You have options and asking what they are is where you can start. If you’re paying off student loans and don’t make enough money to pay the monthly payments, don’t have a job as a recent graduate or recently got laid off, you can request a deferment or forbearance for a certain amount of time. Stopping payments on student loans for now can help you focus on your other debt. Refinance your car to reduce the amount you pay each month, reduce your interest rate and change the length of your loan. Also ask your credit card company if you can reduce the interest charge on your monthly payment. Some companies will grant this request if you’ve been a loyal customer who makes payments on time. It also helps if you have a good credit score or if it has recently improved. These companies want to keep you as a customer so simply request a lower interest rate and hope for the best.

You always give into your friends’ invitations

We’re not telling you to live like a hermit crab until you’ve zeroed out all your cards and loans, but you need to be smart about where you go out and how often. As much as you want to and as hard as it is to break bad habits, don’t accept every invitation your friends throw your way. Lunch here, coffee there, brunch on weekends and happy hour during the game can cost you hundreds of dollars a month when you add it all up. Plan accordingly, choose the events and be ready to decline if it’s something you can’t afford to do. Only try going out to celebrate your friends’ special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries and avoid the random “Wanna grab a drink?” invites. If your colleagues always go out for lunch on Fridays and you don’t want to miss out, vow to eat a packed lunch for the rest of the week and choose an affordable option on the menu. If you’re invited to watch the game at a bar during happy hour, eat at home first and you won’t be tempted to order something at the restaurant. You also don’t need to order a drink to enjoy the game. Be smart and disciplined (almost like you’re on a diet). When you’re on a diet, you watch what you eat, you create a meal plan, resist temptation and create incentives when you achieve your goals, like if you lose 10 lbs. in 2 months, you’ll buy new workout shoes. When you’re on a spending diet, you need to decide what’s a necessity and what’s a splurge. Create incentives the same way and treat yourself without breaking the bank. For example, for every $1,000 you pay off, reward yourself with a Netflix binge, a drive to the beach, a homemade pancake breakfast or a lazy day to sleep in and do absolutely nothing. Having a reward system for your goal to pay off debt can help you achieve it faster.

It’s not a priority

Having large amounts of debt can be extremely detrimental to many factors in your life. It can affect you buying a house, buying a car, going on vacations, changing your career, opening up a business or going to grad school. It can even cost you landing your dream job as a larger percent of employers check your credit along with running a background check. According to a 2012 study from the Society for Human Resource Management, 47% of U.S. companies conduct credit checks and if they see that you have poor credit history, have missed payments, filed bankruptcy or have large amounts of debt, it could cost you the job.

Your life will benefit greatly when you learn how to manage your money, pay off cards in full and on time, and experience what it’s like to live debt-free. It’ll feel like a huge weight has been lifted off your shoulders and you could be a lot closer to it than you think. Just make paying off debt a priority, cut out the bad habits that are costing you money, make a plan, find out your options and be disciplined. This can be hard, but it can be done. You just have to start somewhere. Don’t let debt run your life and the sooner you start paying if off, the sooner you can start living your life to the fullest.

How to get out of your debt quickly

How do I get out of debt quickly without hurting my credit?

Each day our enrollment counselors at Pacific Debt are posed with this question: “How do I get out of debt quickly without hurting my credit?” The answer, unfortunately for most, is that there is no easy way out, and depending on the option you select, as well as your prior payment history, your credit may be impacted. The reality is that it took a long time to accumulate the debt in most cases, and it generally takes even longer to dig yourself out, due to the interest and fees charged by credit issuers.

One of the fastest ways to get yourself out of debt, is to enroll in a debt settlement program, which is an alternative to bankruptcy. For those struggling with over $10,000 in unsecured debt, it can be a turning point in their financial lives and put them on a path to a debt free future. Unfortunately, many individuals and families don’t get the financial relief they need because they are paralyzed by the fear of their credit score dropping. This relates back to the original question posed in this post, which is that most consumers are looking for a solution that is “quick” but that will also not “hurt their credit”.

For the record, your credit score is important. Individuals with a FICO score of 720 or higher generally can borrow money at the lowest rates available, meaning car loans, mortgages and credit cards will carry lower rates of interest. If you own a television or surf the web, you have been exposed to countless advertisements and financial gurus all espousing the virtues of a high credit score. The fact is, credit is important.

However, I would argue that for most individuals struggling with excessive unsecured debt, their low credit score is not what keeps them up at night. Nor is their credit score what prompted them to call us for help.

No, just about everyone that picks up the phone to call Pacific Debt for the first time is concerned with their actual debt. Clients often have a combination of credit cards, high interest personal loans and payday loans. We often hear stories of clients borrowing from one creditor to pay another. For some, this is a cycle that they have been trapped in for years, possibly decades. Many of the people we consult with are excellent candidates for debt settlement; however, many still opt to not get the help – even when the problem involves over $40,000 in credit card debt. The primary reason cited for not proceeding is “affect on credit”.

For those of you who are stuck on the fence with your decision, here are three points to consider when weighing your DEBT versus YOUR CREDIT:

  1. How much is your “good credit” costing you? The reality is, your good credit is probably what enabled you to accumulate the debt in the first place. Now, consider how much interest you are paying each month. Are you making any progress on the debt? If you are paying $400 per month in interest and seeing little to no progress, that translates to $4800 per year, $19,200 over four years, and you will STILL likely be in debt! If the above situation resembles your own, it’s clear to see that maintaining your “good” credit is a cost that you simply cannot afford. Alternatively, if you choose to stop throwing away your money, you could be DEBT FREE in as little as 3-4 years. Upon completing Pacific Debt’s program, that $400 per month could then be used to fund a retirement account, college savings or down payment on new home or car.
  2. Have you had any recent late payments? Are you close to being maxed out on your cards? Do you have collection accounts? If you have answered “yes” to any of these, your credit score probably isn’t as good as you think it is. Pacific Debt has a relationship with Experian and can actually run your credit and pull your score for free to let you know where you stand. Once your debt is resolved, you can then begin focusing on improving your credit score by borrowing and using credit wisely.
  3. If you are struggling with debt, the last thing you probably need is MORE debt! The primary reason people maintain good credit is so that they can borrow money at favorable interest rates. While enrolled in a debt settlement program, your score will be negatively affected and you should avoid borrowing more money. Like all things, time heals all wounds and your score will improve through proper credit management. With that said, one of the many benefits to debt settlement is that our clients learn to live without relying on credit. Upon completing their programs, our clients have spent two to fours years budgeting and managing their finances without depending on credit cards to finance their monthly expenses. As a result, our clients have learned new financial behaviors to avoid falling into the debt trap in the future.

As with all decisions concerning your finances, it’s important to weigh all of your options. One of our professional staff members would be happy to complete a thorough budget analysis with you, and review your debt situation. Based on this information, we are happy to review your options and help you to decide if debt settlement is right for you. Please call us directly at 1-877-722-3328 for a free, no obligation consultation.

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