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How to deal with credit cards and other debts during the coronavirus crisis

I’ve been helping people triage problem debt full time since 1999. Over that period of time, there’s little I haven’t seen happen to blow up someone’s personal finances. Then comes a global pandemic. And this crisis is unlike anything we’ve seen before. This is uncharted territory for all of us.…

Federal student loan relief: what you need to know

For the 44 million Americans with federal student loans, there’s a bit of welcome news. On March 20, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that the office of Federal Student Aid is providing student loan relief to its borrowers during the COVID-19 national emergency. Breaking down the announcement, the…

The pros & cons of secured and unsecured personal loans

If you need more financial flexibility, you might be thinking about taking out a personal loan. But with so many types of personal loans available, it can be tough to tell which will best fit your needs — and your budget. How you plan to use the money, how long…

Is it possible to lower your credit card interest rates?

Believe it or not, you can call your credit card company and ask them to lower the interest rate on your card. Even more surprising? They might actually do it. A CreditCards.com survey found that of the 19% of people surveyed who asked for lower interest rates, 69% were successful.…

I’m underwater on my house: What does that mean and what are my options?

Swings in the housing market can translate to windfall profits — or devastating losses. And it’s difficult to predict which way the wind will blow. If you do find yourself underwater on your house, here’s what it means and what your options are. What does it mean to be underwater?…

Visa vs. Mastercard: What’s the difference and how do I choose?

Crack open your wallet and pull out your credit cards. We bet there’s a very good chance at least one of them is a Visa or Mastercard. Here’s the difference between them and how to choose the right credit card for you. Visa and Mastercard: What they have in common Of…

Here’s the average credit card debt in every state

Credit card debt in the United States is on the rise: It hit $830 billion in the second quarter of 2019, according to Experian. Credit cards are also becoming an increasingly popular form of payment — 60.5% of U.S. adults own a credit card, up 11% from the same time…

Here's how one family paid off $109,000 in credit card debt

For Brian Brandow, carrying credit card debt was normal. He thought it was simply what people did. After all, everyone he knew had some credit card debt, so how could it be so bad? But this mentality led to chronic overspending — for years.  Here’s the story of the Brandows…

What are credit card hardship programs and how do I know if I’m eligible?

Financial issues happen to the best of us. Even if you’ve never missed a credit card payment before, you might fall behind if you lose your job, get sick or have a big expense pop up. A few missed payments can quickly bring headaches when the late fees and higher…

Feeling trapped by a debt relief provider? Here’s what to do

Debt relief can sound incredibly positive when you’re finances are underwater and you can’t see your way to paying off your debt. Sometimes it can be so appealing, in fact, you wind up working with a company that doesn’t have your best interests in mind. If you’ve signed on for…

6 ways to dig yourself out of holiday debt

The holidays are done, the gifts have been unwrapped and all you’re left with in the new year is a big fat credit card bill. From gifts to holiday parties to flights to family, it’s easy to spend more than you were anticipating in the span of a few short…

6 ways to prevent holiday debt

Because holiday gifts aren’t always a line item in a budget, it’s easy to see why last-minute purchases can end up on a credit card. And while it’s tempting, it’s best if you can avoid doing this at all costs (unless you can pay off the balance in full). Here…

What is the snowball method of paying off debt?

There’s something very satisfying about crossing off items on your to-do list. The snowball method of paying off debt benefits from this bit of human psyche. Here’s how it works and how to know if it’s the right method for you. What is the snowball method? The debt snowball method…

States where people have the most & least student loan debt

In 2019, student loan debt in the United States hit $1.6 trillion, the highest it’s ever been, according to data compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. But that debt doesn’t affect all borrowers equally. While 34% of adults ages 18 to 29 have student loan debt, according…

Is your debt time-barred? A state-by-state guide to debt statutes of limitations

Hearing from a debt collector can understandably make you feel very uneasy. That’s especially true if it’s about an old debt. Maybe you thought the debt was long forgotten or it had already been paid. Maybe you’re not even sure the debt is yours. But even if it is is,…

Can being an authorized user on someone else’s credit card help build your credit?

Building up good credit can be a daunting task, especially if unfortunate circumstances have brought your credit score down. But luckily there are a variety of things you can do to push your credit back into the green. One of them is becoming an authorized user on someone else’s credit…

Debt avalanche vs. debt snowball: Here's what you need to know

If paying down debt is in your financial forecast, there are two techniques you might want to consider: debt snowball and debt avalanche. These similar methods are a good fit if you can afford to make the minimum payments on all of your debt, plus a little extra.  If done…

What the national debt means for your children (and your children's children)

When you turn on the TV or pick up your phone, it sometimes seems like the old axiom “no news is good news” has taken on a new meaning. Gun violence, climate change, inadequate or overly expensive health care, are just a few of the heavy topics making headlines and…

Credit card data in 2019: Understanding the trends

Many of the numbers surrounding credit card debt trends are not moving in a favorable direction. Credit card debt held by all Americans topped $1 trillion for the first time in 2018, and since then, the percentage of credit card debt that is seriously delinquent — at least 90 days…

Do you know the difference between good and bad debt?

Not all debt is created equal. As counterintuitive as it may sound, some debt can be good. While you may strive to live debt-free, that isn’t necessarily the rosy paradise of financial freedom that it’s made out to be. Certain types of debt can actually help your credit in the…

5 keys to successful debt consolidation

Just as there are many reasons why people end up in debt, there are many ways to handle getting out of debt. One option is debt consolidation, which means rolling up several of your debts into one, lower-interest loan.  The ideal person for this type of debt management solution is…

How to get rid of your debt for good

Americans have debt, and lots of it. Consumer debt has been growing for years. Last year, the figure approached a staggering $14 trillion. A lot of that debt is coming from mortgages, but student loans, car loans, credit cards and personal also are included in the mix. Here’s how to get…

9 ways to avoid student loan debt

For parents and students alike, college is a big and exciting step. But for most families, college also means debt. Recent statistics show more than 44 million people have $1.5 trillion in student loan debt. Whether you pursue loans, invest early in a 519 plan, or get help through scholarships,…

How to find free money for college

Free money for college sounds far-fetched, yet every year students across the country leave financial aid sitting on the table. In fact, an estimated $24 billion in financial aid, including grants that don’t have to be paid back, goes unclaimed every year, according to Form Your Future, which is sponsored…

5 steps to rebuild credit after debt management

One reason some people choose a debt management plan (DMP) over bankruptcy is they want to protect their credit score. The upshot is, a DMP won’t hurt your credit nearly as much as a bankruptcy or debt settlement would as long as you pay your bills on time. Still, you’ll…

Frequently Asked Questions

Is debt management the same as debt consolidation?

Nope. Debt management usually involves working with a credit counseling…

How does a DMP work?

In order to begin a DMP, you will need to…

What are the benefits of a DMP?

On average, your interests rates for both credit cards and…
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