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ramanth
04-13-2008, 12:13 AM
Can anyone in the States recommend a good company?

Andy and I are in a bind and this may be our only way out. There are a lot of companies out there and I just don't know where to begin.

Hugs and Prayers needed. :)

Thanks!

RedHedd
04-13-2008, 12:42 AM
Consumer Credit Counselors - best thing I've ever done for myself. All my debts will be paid off in another two years. They made it simple and it's not humiliating or even very painful. They helped me create a budget and, for the most part, I've stuck to it. It's taught me a new way of handling my money - a more responsible way.

Here's the San Francisco office's link:

http://www.cccssf.org/

Cinder & Smoke
04-13-2008, 12:50 AM
Debt Consolidation (http://petoftheday.com/talk/showthread.php?t=141286)
Can anyone in the States recommend a good company?
Hugs and Prayers needed. :)

I didn't pay close enough attention, but the NBC Today Show had a feature on this very topic!
Here's what they reprinted on the Show's web site >>>>

Fom a Viewer:
We are drowning in these minimum payments and are now struggling to pay the rest of our bills. We are trying to figure out the best way of getting out of debt without filing for bankruptcy. We found a site called creditsolutions.com, and I wanted to know how you felt about them. - Debbie, Willard, Mo.

Money 911 with Jean Chatzky (javascript:vPlayer('24048065','4aeb7398-c628-4769-abbc-10ac45259095'))
April 10: On “Money 911,” TODAY financial editor Jean Chatzky answers viewers’ e-mails about financial issues >>>
A: Debbie — I hear the desperation in your letter and I want to tell you that you are not alone. So many people right now are suffering with debts that are much larger than they realized when they were spending the money. If the minimum payments are killing you, then you're right to try to take an in-between step before you consider bankruptcy. I'd advise you look at a credit counseling service.

Creditsolutions.com is not that. They are a Texas-based debt settlement company, which means that they charge a fee — in this case, 15% of the debt you owe, or $2700 — for negotiating with your creditors so that you can pay a lesser amount. This will show up as a negative on your credit report. If this sounds like an appealing notion, then I'd suggest going to BBB.org and reading the company file on them before you proceed.

My preference, though, is for credit counseling rather that debt settlement. In general, here is how you want to check out a credit counselor before you do business with them.

* Check for license, accreditation. Many states require that a credit counseling organization register or obtain a license before offering credit counseling, debt management plans and similar services. Do not hire an organization that has not fulfilled the requirements for your state. Also, ask if the firm is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling or the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies and double-check that information at the respective Web site.

* Consider the qualifications of the counselors. Ask if the counselors are certified and by whom. Try to select an agency whose counselors are certified by an outside organization. You will also want to ask how the agency's employees are paid. Steer clear of organizations that pay employees a commission; that might well influence the number or nature of services they decide you need.

* Get it in writing. Only do business with agencies that offer formal written agreements or contracts. Carefully read through the terms of the agreement or contract. It should describe in straightforward fashion the services to be performed; the payment terms for these services, including total cost; how long it will take to achieve results; any guarantees offered; and the counselor's name, business name, address and contact information.

* Know what you'll pay. Get a clear presentation of the fees you will be charged. If there are fees (setup fee, monthly service charges), the agency should explain what they are based upon. In general, you should not expect to pay more than $75 in setup fees or to make a monthly payment that exceeds $40. This monthly payment fee is subject to state law, and the agency representative should be able to tell you the specific regulations for your state of residence. The agency should also be willing to advise you how your funds will be protected. Finally, consider the total of the various fees; when added to your monthly debt, will the cost defeat your efforts to pay down your debt? If you are financially destitute, ask if the organization waives or reduces fees for people in your circumstance. If not, look elsewhere.

Finally, watch out for any demands for account numbers or financial details before they tell you how much they charge; watch out for promises that your monthly payment will be lowered by an absurd amount — like 30 to 50 percent — and watch out for any advertisements that you'll get out of debt “easily.” Getting into debt is easy. Getting out of debt is not.

from: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/24045454/
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I've heard it said before - that some of the "Debt Solutions" people quickly put you
into a worse situation than you were in to start with! :eek:

Read the above carefully - and do some homework with Counseling Services in your area.
Check 'em out before you sign anything!

Good Luck!!

/s/ Phred

Freedom
04-13-2008, 09:06 AM
Make sure you go to a non profit entity; not a for profit business! Makes a HUGE difference in the results.

Edwina's Secretary
04-13-2008, 12:16 PM
Do either of you have an EAP (Employee Assistance Program) available to you through your work? One of the things an EAP can do for you is help you find appropriate credit counseling.

If you are not sure if you have an EAP, check with your HR department. Kimmy, if you are still employed by a college or university, I am sure they have one for the employees.

ramanth
04-13-2008, 12:38 PM
I'm not sure about an EAP, but I do still work at the Law School. Thanks Sara!!

Thanks everyone for the advice. :D

Rachel
04-13-2008, 06:51 PM
I would like to say that the information and stategies needed are not rocket science and can be gleaned from many fine books available on this topic. Phred mentioned one of the respected authors in the field and there are several others. Your local library would be a good place to find these books and start gathering your own information.

The hard part is for both you and Andy to make the commitment to a goal of becoming debt free and to set in motion the behavioral changes that are going to accomplish that goal.

ramanth
04-13-2008, 08:46 PM
Very true and a very good point Rachel. :)

I must say that it's not so much that we are spending beyond our means right now, it's just that we suddenly found ourselves over our heads when Andy took the new job that made less money. We found that we only had money for rent or the credit card payment. Have food in the fridge or make a payment on a loan.

Those decisions stink. :(

jenn_librarian
04-13-2008, 09:50 PM
Do you belong to a credit union that you can do a debt consolidation with? They tend to have lower rates than regular banks or mortgage companies (unless you have an FHA loan... I was able to reconsolidate my 1st, 2nd and ugh... 3rd mortgages into one single FHA mortgage).

I'm not good at finances, and had a my 1st mortgage as an FHA, my second was a debt consolidation through same company, and 3rd was a line of credit. I never thought I'd use the entire line of credit, but when they hand you a credit card so it's "more convenient", yeah... you get the picture.

I was lucky enough to be able to reconsolidate all three back into one FHA.

Before I had a mortgage, I did use my credit union. They were fantastic. Much nicer to work with than a mortgage company.

ramanth
04-13-2008, 10:00 PM
I do belong to two credit unions, but only one loan is through them (my car).

I borrowed money from my 403b (Valic) to help finance the wedding and that's what I've been struggling to pay back.

It's that and the Visa credit card that I'm behind on. We pay rent, electric, gas, water, two car payments, phone, cable/internet, life insurance, and Chipper's vet bill on time. After all that, groceries, and gas, there is only so much to split between Visa and the Valic loan. I guess I just figured payments to those were less critical. :o

jenn_librarian
04-13-2008, 10:08 PM
I had borrowed money from my 403(b) too, and then had to pay a nice tax penalty on it. That stunk.

About 10 years ago, I had "settled" with Discover Card (hate that company, and never got another one of those cards), and when you settle for over a certain amount, you have to claim it as income on taxes the next year. Be careful of that, if they still do that.

Bills just seem to pile up. I wish I had three jobs, cause I could put all money that comes in towards utilities etc. I even tried to trade my car back in to get an older one with a lower payment, but my car isn't worth what the balance of the loan is (like, $7000 less...), so no matter what I'd get, even a Yugo, I'd still have a big monthly payment. Sigh.

I hope you can find something to make things easier financially.

ramanth
04-13-2008, 10:15 PM
Oh man. :(

Yeah, we got the letter from the 403b loan that if the payment isn't paid in full by May 3rd, we'll get a tax penalty. :(

Thanks for the info Jenn. I'll be taking on a part time job soon so hopefully that'll help.

Cookiebaker
04-13-2008, 10:48 PM
HUGE hugs Kimmy!!

Just wanted to say, please please be careful. my best friend got burned very badly with a company that promised to consoldiate her debt....and she ended up claiming bankruptcy as a result. Read all the fine print carefully!!