When I started this company almost ten years ago, I remember thinking there is something very wrong with the way banks operate. This was 2009 and the feeling was not unique. I had just left my job working at one, and I was seeking something new and relevant to what was happening around me. The financial crisis (or great recession) was in full swing and people were suffering economically. It just made sense to try and help. Little did I know the industry I was about to enter already had a bit of a reputation.
Long gone are the days of tremendous upfront fees and little emphasis on product. Most of those companies have been forced out of the industry. Unfortunately, most people don’t know that things have changed, and the banks would like to keep it that way. The landscape is different now, and debt management is a viable option for consumers facing interest rates on credit cards as high as 29.99%. High interest rates like this mean that minimum payments just do not move the needle. Balances continue to rise and the banks have you where they want you. It is in the best interest of your creditors that you are caught on a never ending minimum payment cycle. This is how you are most profitable to them and this why good people stay in debt for decades.
I’m not one to judge. I have been there myself. I’ve not only issued credit cards to consumers while working for a bank with astronomical APR’s (and not felt great about it), but I’ve also been under seemingly unmanageable credit card debt. Playing the minimum payment game is not the way to get from underneath a pile of plastic. There are other faster options.
What needs to be considered are your goals and your time horizon. It’s going to be hard to retire with loads of debt, and if you are younger, you may want start fresh and shed the liabilities. As with life, there is never a perfect solution, but there are options that work. If every path has been ideal and easy for you up to this point, I want to congratulate you, because you are the first one I have ever met and I look forward to your next seminar. For the rest of us, we need to weigh the options:
Who is Debt Management for and who is it not for:
- Someone who has faithfully paid their bills on time for years or even decades but are making no progress chipping away at the debt. Often, but not always, these are people who want to retire and to unload the burden endless payments.
- Entrepreneurs who value operating cash flow above all else and want to deleverage (get rid of debt) fast. Business owners understand the value of lowering costs and increasing available cash.
- People who got slammed with unforeseen medical bills and had to resort to lines of credit. The health care system is in need of repair, and these things happen frequently.
- Anyone who could benefit from lower monthly payments and a concrete plan to reduce debt to zero in few years. Scenarios range anywhere from a recent divorcee who is moving on from a costly divorce, to a well meaning individual who took out too many store cards not realizing the enormous interest rates they sneak inside the fine print. Whatever it is, we’ve seen it before.
- Consumers whose primary focus and singular goal is to maintain a perfect credit score. As your credit score will take a temporary hit with debt management, those who are looking to buy a house within the year or apply for a mortgage ought to wait.
- Those who wish to be a guarantor for a family member or friend on a loan. (Not recommended unless you are 100% sure about the borrowers ability to make payments)
For most people, the decision to join a debt management program comes down to weighing the benefits vs. the costs, just like anything else. If taking a limited term hit on your credit is justified to gain monthly payments that are significantly lower and to be debt free within a few years for approximately half of what you owe, then debt management is a solid option for you. If you plan on using your credit to make a large purchase such as a house or a boat in the near term, it may not be right for you.
I hope this message has been helpful to you, and if you have questions, feel free to leave them in the comments and I’d be happy to take a look. Our goal is to be transparent and helpful, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to any of us if something is on your mind.