Getting out of debt isn't easy, especially if you carry high balances, as many of us do. One strategy is to consolidate your debts into a single, lower- interest interest loan. Finding that loan can be a challenge, though, if you already have a fair amount of debt. So you may find that you have to get creative.
The truth is, you probably have more options then you realize. Traditional "consolidation loans" from a financial institution may not even be your best choice. Instead, you may want to think about:
- using credit cards
- a home equity loan
- a loan from your insurance policy or retirement plan
- a loan from a relative to consolidate
Each of these options can be extremely helpful or extremely dangerous depending on how you use them. The key when you consolidate is to create a plan that will have you out of debt in three to five years, and to stop adding to your debt!
For example, if you owe $10,000 at an interest rate of eleven percent, you'll have to pay $327 a month to be debt- free in its three years, or $212 a month if your goal is five years. If you owe $5000 at that same rate, your payments would be $164 for a three-year re- payment plan, and $109 if you stretch it to five.
It's likely that your consolidation loan will offer much lower payments, but that could mean you'll be paying on it for ten years or more! If you discover there is no way that you can pay off your balances (not including a mortgage) in five years or less, it's probably a good idea to talk with a credit counseling agency like Debt Counselors of America at http://www.dca.org.
Source: Federal Trade Commission
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