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Help! I need somebody. Help! Not just anybody. Help! You know I need someone. Heeeelp!
The Beatles probably weren’t looking for debt help, but these lyrics certainly resonate with anyone who feels like they’re drowning in payments.
A quick search online will give you loads of “advice” on how to get out of debt. But let’s be real—lots of these sites offering debt assistance or debt relief are just scams that prey on people looking for a way out.
Don’t let debt back you into a corner. You can be debt-free! It’s time to defend yourself from the phonies selling false hope and learn how to knock out debt once and for all.
Watch Out for Quick Fixes
First things first: True debt help is not instant or easy. Just like get-rich-quick schemes, you should be suspicious of anyone who promises to solve your money problems with the snap of their fingers. Debt probably didn’t become your way of life overnight, so it’s going to take some time to get back on your feet.
Remember: Personal finance is 80% behavior and only 20% head knowledge. If you truly want to get out of debt and stay out of debt, you have to treat the root of your money issues, not just the symptoms. Even though your choices landed you in a tough spot, you have the ability to fight your way out of debt. You just need a game plan, and it starts with breaking down the facts.
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“There’s no such thing as a shortcut to the top. It takes good old-fashioned HARD WORK.” — Dave Ramsey
Debt Consolidation vs. Debt Settlement
Since debt has become a way of life for so many people, there are plenty of debt reduction companies ready to capitalize on it. The two most common “solutions” they suggest are debt consolidation and debt settlement.
Debt consolidation is a type of loan that rolls several unsecured debts into one single bill, usually in order to get a lower interest rate. The intent is to help you slash mounds of debt. But in reality, you end up staying in debt longer because the term of your loan is extended. The longer it takes you to pay off your loan, the more money you pay. That’s why we call it debt CON-solidation (get it?).
Debt settlement means you hire a company to negotiate a lump-sum payment with your creditors for less than what you owe. Debt settlement companies also charge a fee for their “service.” Most of the time, settlement fees cost between $1,500 to $3,500, which is way more than you would pay if you cut out the middleman and settled the debts yourself.
Don’t fall for either of these traps. Managing your debt isn’t the answer—demolishing it is! Your goal should be to pay off your debt as fast as you can.
Should I Borrow Money to Pay Off Debt?
Borrowing money to pay off debt is like trying to dig yourself out of a hole. A personal loan won’t solve your problem because it’s just moving your debt from one place to another. It’s time to stop thinking of debt as the solution and end the cycle of borrowing money for good.
And while it’s tempting to allow Aunt Martha to lend you the money to pay off your student loans and save you on interest, don’t even think about! The borrower is slave to the lender (see Proverbs 22:7), and you change the dynamic of a relationship when a loved one loans you money. When you owe someone, suddenly that relative or friend thinks they get to decide how you live. They may judge the trips you take and items you buy. Thanksgiving dinner could taste different, and Christmas morning might feel like opening presents in front of your banker. Trust us on this—it’s not worth the trouble.
Should I File for Bankruptcy?
Sometimes your situation feels so dire that bankruptcy seems like the answer. But it is not your only option. Bankruptcy is a gut-wrenching, life-changing event that causes lifelong damage. It also doesn’t guarantee that all your debts will be canceled. Bankruptcy falls into the same category as divorce—sometimes it’s necessary, but as a general rule, you should do everything in your power to avoid it.
There is hope for you! No matter how deep in debt you are, it’s never too late to turn your life around and take control of your money!
Debt Help That Actually Works
You don’t have to consolidate your loans or borrow money to pay off your debt. There is another way! The debt snowball method is a plan that’s proven to help you defeat debt for good.
By listing your debts smallest to largest (regardless of interest rate) and attacking the smallest with a vengeance while making minimum payments on the rest, you will start to knock out more debt than you ever thought possible!
The debt snowball is the fastest way to get out of debt because it addresses behavior, not just math. It forces you to be more intentional with your money and gives you small wins that motivate you to keep going.
This method changes lives! And it can change yours too.
You Have the Power to Get Out of Debt!
Attacking your debt with gazelle intensity will get you on the road to financial peace and allow you to build wealth faster than any debt reduction company ever will. No, it’s not easy. And it’s not quick. But it is worth it! You are ultimately the only one responsible for your debt. It’s up to you to roll up your sleeves, change your spending habits, make a plan for your money, and take action!
If you’re really serious about learning how to pay off debt and invest for the future, Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University will show you how. This nine-lesson class—taken online at home or with a local group—will teach you step by step how to get out of debt for good and create a lifetime of smart money habits.