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Some common debt relief options include home equity loans and lines of credit, borrowing against a retirement plan, transferring debt to a lower rate credit card, and setting up a debt relief plan through a credit counseling agency. No single option is right for all people. Debt relief options vary depending on a bunch of different factors. Home owners can borrow against the equity in their home. Renters can't. Someone with a 401(k) plan can take a low rate loan against it to pay off their high rate credit cards. People without retirement accounts can't. Someone with good credit can get low rate credit cards while someone with bad credit will be stuck with the high rate cards. There may be options you haven't even considered but that, with the help of a credit counselor, will be as plain as the nose on your face. The one thing we all have in common when it comes to debt relief is that the best approach is a big picture approach rather than a Band-Aid approach. In other words, you don't want to solve the financial crisis of the day by creating a worse one tomorrow. If you need to get your car fixed to the tune of $300 but you won't have the cash until Friday, don't charge the payment on your 29-percent interest credit card on Tuesday. That's a Band-Aid fix. Instead, see if the shop will take a post-dated check. Carpool to work with a friend. Take public transportation. Or ride your bike. If your kids need to miss a couple soccer practices, that's life in the fast lane—or not.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|