Debt consolidation, for many people, can bring a huge bring a massive sense of relief. By consolidating debt, you can eliminate or reduce collectors' calls and letters, as well as just being able to feel more secure. Being responsible for one loan repayment rather than having many bills to pay can be easier to manage and reduce the risk of missing payments. With a debt consolidation loan, by clearing your existing liabilities with your creditors, it is even possible that you can improve your credit score. A consolidation loan also offers you some flexibility in how you will handle the debt. If the loan is taken out at the right time, you could potentially benefit from having one month without a debt repayment.
Effectively, you get the loan one month and use it straight away to pay off all of your creditors. As you may not have to start paying the loan until the following month, you could end up with a repayment holiday which will give you some time to build up a cushion in your bank account. If you have not sourced a consolidation loan and opted instead to go with a credit counselling service and had them form a debt management plan with you, this can help you to keep your finances more under control, as well as providing you with just the one amount to repay. Often the monthly sum that you pay is lower than the sum of the bills you paid previously, because the credit counselling service has managed to have your charges reduced in some way. With certain schemes such as Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVA) creditors agree to stop charging interest while you are in the plan. A debt management program may actually negatively affect your credit rating temporarily, but once all of your debts have been paid off, your credit score should go up.
You may find that subscribing to a formal debt management plan is advantageous for you as it will help you to develop better spending habits as you will not be able to use credit whilst the plan is in force. Credit counselling services usually should take the time to learn about you and your needs, so that they can help you form a good plan for getting out of debt. Another advantage to dealing through a credit counselling service is that someone else negotiates with your creditors for you. Many people find the idea of calling their creditors intimidating, and it can be very daunting. The main advantage to either form of debt consolidation, borrowing or using a service, is peace of mind.
Debt can be very stressful, but knowing you have a plan and are following it can make your finances much easier to face and handle.
Derek Rogers represents Trapped, a UK based debt management company helping people who are already caught in the debt trap.