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September 21st, 2009:

How To Get Out Of Debt

Every year consumer debt in the UK increases and so more and more people are asking themselves the question how do I get out of debt?. At this point it may seem like an impossibility which is why this article provides some very sensible guidance to help you get your-self out of debt and the financial nightmare that you are presently in.

Currently interest rates are low due to the low state of the bank of England base rate. This has encouraged people to take on more and more credit in the belief that these debts are affordable. What this actually means is that at present even those people that think they can afford the repayments of credit may begin to struggle should interest rates begin to rise which is what they are predicted to do shortly according to leading experts in this field. If however, you are already struggling with your debts the situation is only likely to get worse.

Today is the time to begin to think about how you are going to get out of debt and build an action plan to reach your goal of making yourself ‘debt free’.
Congratulations! The very fact that you are reading this article means that you have made the first step to facing the problem and getting rid of your debt. Make no mistake your credit is your debt. You should begin to call it this as this will help you to realise your situation.

How bad is your debt situation?
The next step is to build a table of your current financial situation. List on the left hand side all your monthly incomings including your wages (after deductions like tax and national insurance), benefits, rent and any other income you have. Next on the right hand side list all your monthly outgoings apart from your debts. This should include your mortgage, rent, bills, food expenses, car or travel expenses, insurance, childcare and any other outgoings that you have. Now deduct your total outgoings from your total incomings and the figure that you have is your ‘maximum disposable income’ (MDI). Next write down all your debts and your monthly repayments. This may be scary but the sooner you face up to these and acknowledge these the sooner you can begin to do something about it. Now compare your total debt repayments to your maximum disposable income figure (MDI). You will find yourself in one of the following three situations;
1) Your MDI figure is more than your monthly debt repayments.

Should you find yourself in this situation you should consider increasing your debt repayments. Do not increase them to more than your MDI figure or you will be over committing yourself. However, by increasing your repayments you will pay off your debts sooner and so will pay less overall interest. This is far more cost effective that putting this extra money into a savings account.

2) Your monthly repayments exceed your MDI figure.
If you are in this situation you will be in a ‘state of increasing debt’. This is a worrying and scary place to be. You are probably struggling with your repayments which are likely to be causing you significant stress. If not, you are perhaps only at this stage realising the situation you are in. Don’t panic as this is the time when we will begin to recontroll your finances effectively. Often those in this situation resort to drawing cash on one credit card to make minimum payments on another. This is what we call ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’. STOP! This is not effective management of your finances don’t kid yourself. In fact what you are doing is making the situation worse. Credit card companies charge high fees for withdrawing cash from cards. You are also paying interest on this money twice. You are therefore getting yourself in more debt and this will snowball your finances further out of control. Let’s have a look at how to turn this around.

3) The two figures are more or less the same.
Don’t for one moment congratulate yourself. You are in debt. You are just about managing to make your repayments. You need to ask yourself some of the following questions;
* Where is money going to come from to deal with emergencies? Your credit card is not the answer.
* How would you cope if interest rates rise? This will increase all your repayments.
* What would you do if child care costs rise.
* What would you do if your travel costs increase train, petrol and insurance prices?
Any of your outgoings could and probably will rise. Wages don’t tend to rise at the same level as rising interest rates. They mostly tend to get left behind with inflation. You could soon find your self in situation number 2. You are effectively walking a tipe rope and need to get yourself on safe ground.
Let’s have a look then at how you can improve your situation with the following guidance.
Guidance Increasing your income
* Ask for a pay rise. If you don’t ask you won’t get!
* Consider working more hours or doing regular overtime.
* Look for a promotion or to change jobs to higher paid employer.
* Look for a second job to supplement your income.
* Claim every state benefits as you can call the benefit enquiry line on 0800 88 22 00.
* Consider a lodger a great source of additional income to the household.
* Sell any unwanted items. This could be through a car boot sale or over the internet on www.ebay.co.uk or www.amazon.co.uk/marketplace
*
Guidance Reducing your outgoings
* Reduce your food bill by buying stores own branded products instead of more expensive brands.
* Use supermarket vouchers and coupons and take part in their award schemes.
* Cut down on takeaways these are expensive and unnecessary.
* Take a packed lunch to work. This is far cheaper than buying lunch from the local sandwich shop every day.
* Give up smoking this will save you a small fortune.
* Cut down on child care costs by asking friends and family to help.
* Switch utility providers. Shop around for the cheapest deals on phones, electric, gas and water it costs nothing to change suppliers.
* Set up direct debits. This can gain you substantial discounts particularly with utility companies.
* Shop around for insurance you will be surprised at the savings you could make.
* Ask yourself ‘do you really need all the things listed on your outgoings list?’. Cancel things like gym memberships. It is a lot cheaper to pay for the facilities at your local authority leisure centre when and if you use them.

Guidance credit cards

There are two main credit reference agencies in the UK. These are Experian and Equifax. You can write to these and request to see a copy of your credit file. Under the Data Protection Act you can ask to see any information companies have on you at any time. These two agencies normally ask you to send a £2 cheque for administrative purposes with your request for the file. Go through your file carefully. If there is incorrect information on the file about you there is an appeal process you can follow to get this information removed. You can also ask that notes be entered on your file therefore giving explanations to issues that show on the file. Visit their websites for more information.
If you have exhausted the above advice and guidance and you are still struggling with debt you may find the following contacts useful;

Debt Consolidation is Possible for Non-Homeowners

There are different ways of consolidating debt and even without the aid of a consolidation loan, a debt reduction of up to 60% is easy achievable. There are professional negotiators that can agree with your creditors new repayment programs along with reductions on the interest rate you pay for your outstanding debt and sometimes even a cut on your debt’s principal.

Debt Consolidation Agencies

Before contacting a debt consolidation agency you need to be aware of what they are capable of doing and compare that with your financial needs. Using the services of a debt consolidation agency is a decision to be taken as last resort. Once the fact that you’ve got into a debt consolidation program is reported, your credit history will reflect this and your ability to get finance will be considerably diminished.

However, if your current bills, loan installments, unpaid credit card balances and all other debt have become an unbearable burden, then a debt consolidation program might be your only chance to avoid other more extreme measures like bankruptcy.

A debt consolidation agent will be assigned to your case. He will gather all the information available about your credit, your outstanding debt, your income, your assets, etc. and with that information he will design a plan. He will contact your creditors and negotiate with them. Since your creditors want to get paid, they’ll agree more flexible conditions and they will resign to charge high interests on your debt. They know now that if a consolidation agent is taking care of your debt chances are that if they don’t cooperate, they might get nothing.

There are mainly two different options after negotiation. You may obtain new repayment schedules with lower rates and lower monthly payments you’ll be able to afford or sometimes the agent agrees with the creditors a reduction on the whole amount of debt in exchange of immediate cancellation of their bills, balances and loans. If the agent takes this second path, he probably has arranged for you to get approved for a consolidation loan. The money obtained will be used to repay the new negotiated debt and you’ll end up with a single monthly payment: The loan installments.

Consolidation Loans

With the aid of a debt consolidation agency, it is much easier to get a consolidation loan in order to cancel your debt. The lender knows for sure that the money will be used to repay and cancel all your debt. Probably, the agency will arrange for the money to be directly transferred to the creditors. The lender will then be your only creditor which lets him in a privileged position when it comes to recovering his money if he has to take legal action in order to do so. And that is the main reason why with the help of a consolidation agent non-homeowners can get approved for debt consolidation loans too.

Is Non-Homeowner Debt Consolidation Possible?

There are different ways of consolidating debt and even without the aid of a consolidation loan, a debt reduction of up to 60% is easy achievable. There are professional negotiators that can agree with your creditors new repayment programs along with reductions on the interest rate you pay for your outstanding debt and sometimes even a cut on your debt’s principal.

Debt Consolidation Agencies

Before contacting a debt consolidation agency you need to be aware of what they are capable of doing and compare that with your financial needs. Using the services of a debt consolidation agency is a decision to be taken as last resort. Once the fact that you’ve got into a debt consolidation program is reported, your credit history will reflect this and your ability to get finance will be considerably diminished.

However, if your current bills, loan installments, unpaid credit card balances and all other debt have become an unbearable burden, then a debt consolidation program might be your only chance to avoid other more extreme measures like bankruptcy.

A debt consolidation agent will be assigned to your case. He will gather all the information available about your credit, your outstanding debt, your income, your assets, etc. and with that information he will design a plan. He will contact your creditors and negotiate with them. Since your creditors want to get paid, they’ll agree more flexible conditions and they will resign to charge high interests on your debt. They know now that if a consolidation agent is taking care of your debt chances are that if they don’t cooperate, they might get nothing.

There are mainly two different options after negotiation. You may obtain new repayment schedules with lower rates and lower monthly payments you’ll be able to afford or sometimes the agent agrees with the creditors a reduction on the whole amount of debt in exchange of immediate cancellation of their bills, balances and loans. If the agent takes this second path, he probably has arranged for you to get approved for a consolidation loan. The money obtained will be used to repay the new negotiated debt and you’ll end up with a single monthly payment: The loan installments.

Consolidation Loans

With the aid of a debt consolidation agency, it is much easier to get a consolidation loan in order to cancel your debt. The lender knows for sure that the money will be used to repay and cancel all your debt. Probably, the agency will arrange for the money to be directly transferred to the creditors. The lender will then be your only creditor which lets him in a privileged position when it comes to recovering his money if he has to take legal action in order to do so. And that is the main reason why with the help of a consolidation agent non-homeowners can get approved for debt consolidation loans too.

Debt Settlement – Realistic Expectations

It never fails to amuse me to hear critics of debt settlement warning those who are considering this form of debt relief that they may be facing a tax liability as a result of canceled debt. Even funnier are the warnings about the effect that debt settlement will have on your credit score.
Why do I find this amusing? Well, apparently these so-called “experts” have never been in a situation where they’re forced to choose between bankruptcy, debt consolidation, debt settlement or consumer credit counseling. When you’re faced with tough financial decisions, and you’re unable to make ends meet, the last thing you should be concerned with is your credit score. Rather, it’s time to find a solution to put your debt and sleepless nights behind you.
If you’re contemplating debt settlement, but have heard some negative feedback you may have some legitimate concerns. That being said, please understand that your concerns relating to debt settlement should lie strictly in the area of some debt settlement firms out there who want nothing more than to take your money and provide little to no service. This should be your number one concern, not your credit score or tax liability. We’ll talk more about debt settlement firms in a moment, but first let’s take a look at those factors which seem to have the critics so concerned.
Will you have a tax liability if you should decide to seek relief through debt settlement? You may or may not. Creditors are required to report all canceled debt over the amount of $600 to the IRS, and you will be required to report that canceled debt as income, and will likely be provided a Form 1099 from each creditor from whom you have received relief in the form of debt settlement. Keep in mind, however, that an “insolvency” rule exists for individuals who are considered insolvent at the time they settled their debts. This means that if your liabilities exceed your assets at the time of each settlement with your creditors, you are classified as insolvent, and will not likely face a tax liability. I highly recommend that you talk with a professional tax advisor to see where you stand with regard to the insolvency rule. Even if you are faced with a tax liability, what’s the big deal? Owing taxes due to debt settlement is simply because you realized a savings, and no doubt you’ll be much further ahead than would be the case if you remained thousands of dollars in debt, barely keeping your head above water each month.
As for your credit score, again, I don’t quite understand why this would be a concern. You’re in debt, you’re losing sleep and you don’t know how you’ll do it from one month to the next. Why worry about your credit score? One of the major perks of good credit is to obtain more credit – I think you’ll agree that you probably don’t want or need anymore credit at this particular time. Put your debt behind you and then start thinking about your credit score. In any case, the impact on your credit score through debt settlement is only temporary, and most people see a much improved score within 6-9 months of completing a debt settlement program. As a matter of fact, I talked with a former client just eight months after she paid off her final settlement, and she already had a 681 credit score. Not bad, considering had she not chosen to negotiate with her creditors she would still be borrowing from one credit card to pay another, and the cycle could have continued for several more years.
Some critics wonder what the actual savings through debt settlement really is, considering that interest and late fees continue to accrue prior to reaching a settlement agreement. Well, in most cases people do realize a significant amount of savings – even after late fees and interest, tax liabilities and debt settlement firm fees. Let’s say, however, that you’re $50,000 in debt, enter a debt settlement program and in the end (after paying taxes and professional fees) you only end up saving $10,000 (which is not very likely). So what? You still saved $10,000, which is a lot of money. You’re no longer paying minimum monthly payments, which could take up to 40 years to pay off. You saved thousands and thousands of dollars in interest that you would have ended up paying had you decided to continue making your monthly payments. You’re out of debt much sooner than you would have been if you had chosen another path. And best of all, you’re out of debt – period.
So, as you can see, debt settlement in itself is not necessarily the evil that some people would like you to believe it is. Some debt settlement firms, however, are. Because of this it’s very important to properly research this area prior to hiring a firm to represent you. First, please check the Better Business Bureau record of each company you’re considering. After you’ve narrowed it down, talk to those remaining companies and find out how their fee structure works, and if it sounds like they can be trusted. If a company you’re considering wants their fee up front – prior to providing a service – move on. It may take some extra time, but you can find reputable firms that will not charge you a fee until they have reached satisfactory results.
Hopefully I’ve cleared up some misconceptions about debt settlement for you. If you have additional questions regarding debt settlement, please visit http://donaldsonwilliams.com/Debt_Settlement.html. Congratulations on taking the first step toward a debt-free lifestyle.

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