With debt becoming an ever greater problem for American families, there are still many households either avoiding the situation entirely or falsely believing that things will turn themselves around. Purposefully ignoring bill collectors or pretending that something will just suddenly come up to remove the consumer debt that has been accumulating on their ledgers for an extended amount of time could only be deemed foolish, but we do understand the temptations that lead people to tackle the credit card burdens that have amassed through what, after all, has been their own efforts (or lack of such). Nobody wants to surrender control of their budget and short term financial destiny to outside assistance from strangers, but, at the same point, you have to take a serious look at your obligations not only as they stand now but over the long haul. This is where debt consolidation may be a genuine solution for you and your household. At the least, you owe it to yourself to give debt consolidation a studied appraisal to decide if the programs could have some benefit.
Think of it this way. How do you want your life to look over the next two, five, ten, even twenty years? Do you still want to be paying off today’s debts decades from now? Of course not. This is absolutely the worst possible scenario – more destructive in the long run even than Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. The longer you postpone a debt, the more you are giving up in money lost to compound interest rather than paying off the principal of your debt. When you take out short term consolidation loans, on the other hand, most of the money you spend upon the program is going toward the actual debt instead of the creditors’ pockets. While the debt consolidation approach may require a temporarily harsh sacrifice, shorter term loans will help to get you out of debt trouble with much less expense over the course of loan when compared to simply maintaining the minimum payments. There’s just no way for ordinary consumers to manage truly large debt burdens spread among a number of different credit cards or accounts without some form of debt consolidation.
Again, as we’ve said, it is more than reasonable for borrowers to insist that they can take care of their own debt by themselves without resorting to consolidation techniques. Indeed, one of the reasons credit card companies have been so successful in creating the modern society of revolving debt has been the sheer powers of abstraction needed to fully understand precisely how difficult it would ever be to better your position without greatly changing the framework of your financial obligations. Nevertheless, the magnitude of debt management within a better existence should not be diminished. Instead of putting food on your creditors’ tables, you’ll lead yourself into a position where you can improve your own chances for success and use all that you earn to help your own family struggle through our uncertain economy with some degree of security. By taking out the right sort of debt consolidation loan, you are giving yourself the opportunity to renegotiate the terms of your loan payment in a way that shall prove far more beneficial for all future endeavors. When working with the right companies and agreeing to loans that have the right terms, debt consolidation will allow you to think not just about next month, but also to realistically plan out the rest of your life.
Of course, things are a bit more complicated than simply undertaking an examination of the debt consolidation alternatives. It’s highly important when looking at all of the varied consolidation loan options to find out what approaches are likely to be the most beneficial for you and your family, and this can be a trek that takes months to be fully realized. For one thing, there are just so many variables to be studied at before even the most basic fundamentals are addressed. Personal loan consolidation programs are heavily dependent on credit history, for example, and your ultimate interest rates will to a large degree be dependent upon the FICO scores offered by the three main credit bureaus. Employment history is also a good determination of what sort of debt consolidation program would allow admittance. For debt settlement negotiation, to take just one example, the specific lenders and nature of your unsecured debt – above and beyond the credit and income qualifications – could well make or break debt settlement as a workable notion for your household. Within the boundaries of an article such as this, it’s just too difficult (and, for your authors, ultimately irresponsible) to attempt to accurately predict which form of debt consolidation could be the right fit for your own family. In the following piece, we merely wish to show a few different tips and strategies about the larger consolidation approach so that those interested borrowers may have some sort of map through their own hard fought discoveries about the realities of debt consolidation.
It is certainly true that the process of searching out debt consolidation loans and learning about the various benefits and drawbacks of the consolidation process could seem daunting to consumers who have never before bothered (or, in many cases, needed) to take the time to learn much about debt management and the various forms it may take. If you are worried about your credit history and just want to make all of the bill collector calls go away, it can seem all too tempting for borrowers to simply take the first loan that’s offered in order to solve short-term problems. Still, this has to be said to be one of the most common mistakes you could make. More importantly, it’s a mistake that could have destructive effects far into any unwary borrower’s future. The best thing to do in any of these situations is just to stop, take a deep breath, and understand that you don’t have to agree to any loan consolidation program right away. You will almost certainly be able to get a better offer from other debt consolidation specialists if you take your time and investigate every last alternative. For this reason, you want to always make sure to wait until the last possible moment to commit to a debt consolidation program.
To paraphrase a truism from carpenters and tradesmen, analyze twice and sign once. As every borrower should know, the lenders’ quoted prices may be quite different from what actually turns up on the eventual papers, and, if you should remain dubious (and, trust your authors, you should remain dubious) that the consolidation quotes will barely resemble what you will see once you actually apply for the loans, the only logical thing to do is to compare prices among multiple lenders. The debt consolidation professionals that you work with will argue this decision, to be sure, and they will ask, with no small amount of practiced guilt projection, that you leave everything within their hands. An experienced debt consolidation specialist will make you leave their office feeling like a discussion with one of their competitors would be somehow cheating, but this is not infidelity. A serious attempt at debt consolidation, not to exaggerate things, could make or break your household finances for up to a decade afterwards and, with egregious malfeasance on the part of the consolidation firm, perhaps even longer. The only person who really understands your own best interests is you, after all. This may sound obvious, but many borrowers considering debt consolidation somehow forget the practicalities behind the procedure, and, in order to make an enlightened choice, you need to really understand what options are on the table. By comparing offers from a number of different lenders, you can only then allow yourself an accurate picture of what options have been made available. Furthermore, only then can you make a truly informed decision about debt consolidation that will best help you and your family prepare for the future come what may.
Remember, the real perspective to look at as regards debt consolidation should always involve the long game. You should not be seeking to get ahead for just the next month. That’s what credit card companies count upon. When considering consolidation programs, you should be looking to decide on the best option that will let you get ahead in life through eliminating the debts that hamstring household finance without artificially crippling any larger dreams or unfairly limiting your family’s comfort. For the sake of argument (one offered hourly by telemarketers, we should add), let’s say that someone offers you the chance to reduce your monthly payments by half. This would mean that, instead of paying five hundred dollars a month you would only be paying two hundred and fifty dollars, but, in order to do this, the debt consolidation company may be extending the terms of your loan from five to fifteen years. Let’s even assume there shall be a significant cut in interest rates for the time being. When you calculate the actual terms of the loan, you will end up paying a good deal more money – perhaps twice as much, depending upon rate and amount – than you would have had you left things alone.
This is why it can be so difficult for those borrowers who’d never pretended to be financiers to understand just what the greater consequences of such consolidation loans may be. In the last case mentioned, you would spend far more in interest through the course of the consolidation, and, even without the costs of said consolidation added alongside, what you’d imagined to be a positive action will leave you even farther behind in debt than what you could have achieved by merely paying every dollar toward eliminating those burdens. With a good consolidation loan boasting proper terms, you should not only be reducing those monthly payments, you would be decreasing the total amount of debt that needs to be repaid through the entirely of the loan. You work hard for the money you earn, we assume, and you do not want to throw it away simply because you feel an inexplicable loyalty to one smooth talking consolidation salesman. Read the details carefully for every document, pay attention to the fine print, comparison shop with competitors in the industry, and always make sure that you know what you’re signing on for before they hand you the pen. In the end, the future is always up to you, and there is no reason to blame anyone else for your laziness or sloppy analysis if your debt consolidation should be handled poorly.
We cannot say this too many times: always know precisely what you are signing. It’s hard to even estimate how many correspondents have written us complaining that they attached their names to contracts without taking the proper amount of time to understand the documents completely. In times such as these, particularly when debt collection agencies are breathing down your neck and even the minimum payments of credit cards seem depressingly our of reach, it may seem easy to just sign your name to anything that seems at first glance like it might solve all of your problems. No matter how convincing the debt consolidation professional may be within his beautiful office and how articulate he may be during his glowing presentation, you cannot just take his words at first glance. Look twice, look a third time, look as long and as hard as you need to until you understand every single word of the debt consolidation contract. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification from other consolidation specialists at the company you have been working with or even to bring the terms to a professional analyst at a neutral firm.
Remember, this is your life, and you need to have a clear picture of what the benefits and responsibilities of this debt consolidation program are going to be. If the consolidation counselor seems like they’re glossing over the details when explaining the loan, make sure to insist that any questionable aspects of the program are explained in full. If you don’t understand any part of the contract, ask about it and continue asking until you feel that you thoroughly understand every element of the consolidation. Force the consolidation specialists to go over everything in plain language without double talk, and ensure that even the smallest change has been recorded in written documents for later use. The contract is the heart of any financial agreement, especially debt consolidation, and you and your household must recognize and come to trust each and every line of the papers being signed in order to prevent troubles down the road. Think of debt consolidation as a sort of marriage between the borrower and the debt consolidation company, and, even more importantly, you should think of the initial consultations as a flirtation with you and the company circling the room and deciding upon mutual interests. In this way, you should not overly blame the consolidation officer for overly praising the virtues of his craft. Obviously, you want anyone who would take over your consolidation to believe in what they are doing and to believe their attempts to help the borrowers will meet with ultimate success, and, at the end of the day, no debt consolidation specialist will genuinely understand their potential clients’ situation until they have gone through all possible scenarios after long nights studying credit reports and paperwork.
Honestly, it just doesn’t matter that much what the debt consolidation company quotes you before your application is finalized. Legally, the only thing that will be looked at will be the contract they offer after (and only after) you have already applied and the final papers have been drawn up. Now, that contract should be very closely analyzed to see if there are any differences between the quote and what you were originally offered – as well, obviously, as whether these changes were mentioned by the company. To be sure, sometimes these differences are due to aberrations in your credit record that you might not even have known about. It could even turn out that there are discrepancies in your record that you need to clear up before re-applying, and the discovery of such errors will make quite the beneficial difference to your finances over the long run. However, under any circumstances, you should never assume that the rate you were first quoted before applying will be the same one that you are offered after the consolidation process has been completed. When the differences appear, you must make sure to ask your lender the reasons behind them, and, if you have done the smart thing and applied with multiple lenders to get a comparison rate, you should see what the other companies are now offering.
Also, while much of the specific jargon may beyond the ready capacity of the average borrower, much of the analysis can be done by the consumer him or herself. Any reasonable creditor should offer in good faith the entire cost of your ultimate financial burden, but, as seemingly with everything involving the consolidation process, one cannot always depend upon the supposed debt professionals. Nevertheless, once you have the basic information, you should be able to estimate the total with the assistance of one of the debt calculators available from any number of web sites. These calculators found on the internet allow a comparison of prices with the debts you hold at present and with what a company may charge for debt consolidation, but we strenuously urge borrowers to avoid those debt calculators found upon web-sites attached to creditors. When a lender’s involved, the numbers somehow tend to be a bit skewed; oddly enough, the creditors’ calculators often estimate suspiciously low for their own offerings while their competitors’ numbers range higher than average. This isn’t always true, of course, but make sure that you’re able to enter the interest rates and associated charges manually. From there, you should be able to just multiply the monthly payment times the length of the loan plus whatever costs (traditionally called points) incurred from the lender, and that’ll be roughly approximate.
Honestly, regardless of the good faith estimate, it’s a good idea for borrowers to give this sort of thing a try. Even for the most trustworthy loan officers, mistakes are made, and debtors should not leave anything to chance.
This does deserve to be underlined. No matter how generously your friends and family have recommended a specific consolidation firm, you should always keep in mind the importance of investigating every debt management company before first meeting with them. The Better Business Bureau keeps records of customer complaints for a number of years, and it is always a good idea to check with your community’s Chamber Of Commerce to see if they have anything to say about the company in question. Also, be sure to discover if they are part of any larger group or maintain any professional affiliations. Many of the more legitimate debt consolidation service – debt settlement negotiation counselors, in particular – have a certification process, and you should make sure that the industry’s national board has some awareness of the company in question. As well, the Federal Trade Commission and similar governmental authorities are funded by your tax dollars to vouchsafe the consumer’s welfare in such matters, and, while they are not always up to the task (just because they have not heard anything bad about the consolidation firm shouldn’t mean that the firm itself is beyond dispute), it’s never a bad idea to check. More importantly, you should understand your responsibility as a citizen to inform the Federal Trade Commission and Better Business Bureau and all such bodies about any malfeasance or incompetence or outright fraud suspected through the consolidation process to better protect other borrowers from unsavory business practices.
Even the best of companies will still unknowingly hire loan officers and counselors and other debt specialist that think nothing of unfurling predatory schemes hardly in the borrowers’ best interests to turn a quick buck, and, while they will inevitably be discovered and dismissed from a profession whose lifeblood is word of mouth, a bad sort inevitably sneaks and lies their way into otherwise trustworthy firms. Check and double check every word of every line of the consolidation documents – even, if financially possible, have them analyzed by a neutral professional – before ever signing papers for your loan. Never stop looking for the best possible deal. Sometimes lenders will offer you fairy tale rates in order to gain your trust and then add additional fees and elevated interest to the final contract without telling you about them. Your only source for the deal you are going to get is the contract that is waiting for you sign. Whatever you have been told, your only real offer is the offer that’s set down on paper, waiting for your signature. Despite whatever your initial gut feeling may have been, the only thing that you should trust is the document that they put in front of you. As they say, a verbal contract is not worth the paper it is printed on, and promises and best case scenarios offered to land the client’s business should not even be considered in bad faith. This is the nature of debt consolidation and any sort of competitive financing. No matter how much you want to believe that a person’s word is their bond, in the legal world the only reality comes from the documents that are written down on a piece of paper. More to the point, no matter the relationship you may have developed with the debt consolidation professional, if there’s anything on the contract that’s different from what you expected, you shouldn’t hesitate to re-open negotiations and work out the best deal for you and your family.