Drowning in Debt? It May Be Time to Ask for Help
By Space Coast Daily // May 14, 2019
In our society, it can be quite difficult to talk about money. Many people feel that personal finance is, well, personal—a private thing for each individual or household to manage on their own.
In fact, one survey from Wells Fargo found that almost half of Americans (44 percent) say personal finance is the most challenging topic to discuss with others. This means people consider personal finance more difficult to talk about than heavy hitters like death, politics, religion, taxes and personal health.
Of course, this reluctance to discuss money goes beyond conversations with family and friends; it can make it difficult for consumers to even reach out to a professional for help.
Think of it this way: When most people get sick or injured, they make a doctor’s appointment. In order to come up with a care plan, patients must be willing to share symptoms with the health professionals treating them. People don’t have to deal with their physical health alone.
But many people have a hard time asking for help when they’re facing financial problems, like drowning in debt. Even though it’s extremely common to carry thousands of dollars in debt these days, there’s still a stigma attached that keeps people quiet.
The only way to get financial help is to ask for it, something that’s especially important when you’re facing significant debt.
Major Debt: More Common Than You Think
Part of the reason you may be hesitant to talk about your debt is that sometimes it feels like you’re the only one dealing with it. But it’s increasingly common for U.S. consumers to carry thousands of dollars in credit card debt, on average. And that doesn’t even touch on mortgages, auto loans, student loans, etc.
Andrew Housser, debt relief expert and co-founder of Freedom Financial Network, recalls the early days of launching a debt settlement organization.
After setting up a rudimentary website and launching an unoptimized AdWords campaign for his fledgling company, he was surprised to find more than 100 emails in his inbox the next day “from different people all struggling with large debt, many over $30,000.” Since then, the organization has resolved more than $10 billion in debt for tens of thousands of people.
Reaching out for help means overcoming the stigma that debt is a rare and solitary experience. Talking with people—personal and professional—about debt can be very empowering when it helps you find the best solution to tackle yours.
Finding Your Debt “Life Raft”
Once you’re ready to admit to yourself that you need help with debt and to reach out, it’s time to explore your options. For instance, working with a credit counselor can help you come up with a repayment plan personalized to your financial situation—or enroll in a debt management plan meant to streamline your debts into a single monthly payment at a lower interest rate.
You can also speak to financial institutions about the possibility of getting a consolidation loan which you’d then use to pay off your high-interest debts. Depending on your credit score, you may be able to save money with a lower interest rate on the loan than on your high-interest debts.
Plus, you’ll only have one loan to worry about repaying over time rather than a handful of miscellaneous debts.
Another way to reach out is to call a debt settlement organization to find out if you’d qualify for their program. This strategy entails depositing money into a designated account each month until you have enough to begin negotiations with creditors. The optimal end result is that your creditors will agree to settle for less.
If things are very dire, you can speak with an attorney about whether bankruptcy is your best chance at wiping out your debts. Be aware however that bankruptcy comes with a price, like damaged credit and the possible forfeiture of assets.
If you’re drowning in debt, it’s time to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to talk about debt with your loved ones to get perspective and advice. Then reach out to various organizations to find the best-fit solution for your life.
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