When you are caught up in excessive debt, it can be difficult to find the best way out of your current situation. While filing for bankruptcy is an available option for those who qualify, it may not be the right solution for everyone. Here are five bankruptcy alternatives you may not currently know about.
1. Consolidate debt
Consolidating all of your debt into one loan can eliminate multiple monthly payments to different creditors. Although the total amount of your debt will remain the same, your interest rates and monthly payments will likely be lower if you consolidate rather than paying separately to multiple creditors.
2. Negotiate/settle debts
Negotiating with creditors may help you obtain a payment plan that is easier to adhere to. The best way to achieve this is to honestly examine your financial situation and then explain to your creditors what you can and can’t afford. If you have fallen on hard times because of a job loss, medical condition or an unexpected emergency, some creditors will work with you to help you get back on track. Creditors are also more likely to create a repayment plan if they know the other alternative for you is to file bankruptcy.
Debt settlement may result in the creditor waiving your current payments in exchange for your commitment to make larger payments by a certain date, or to accept a lower amount rather than the amount you currently owe.
Of course, negotiating with creditors or engaging in debt settlements may not always yield satisfactory results. For many people, though, the chance of regaining financial control is worth the effort.
3. Restructure your mortgage
You may be able to reduce your monthly mortgage payments by refinancing your home with a lower interest rate or by reconfiguring your mortgage and receiving a new payment schedule from your housing lender. Any money you save on your monthly payments as a result of refinancing or restructuring can then be used to pay off your debts.
4. Sell property
If you have anything of value that you do not need, consider selling it and using the profits to repay creditors. Selling valuable items like jewelry, second vehicles, antiques and artwork could go a long way toward helping you pay off your debt.
5. Contact a credit counselor
Credit counseling organizations may offer helpful advice for paying back your creditors and managing excessive debt, according to the Federal Trade Commission. It is important to seek help from an upstanding credit counseling service with a solid reputation in order to avoid falling victim to a scam. Look for counseling services offered through reputable channels such as credit unions, military bases, universities and housing authorities.
Credit counseling is also a prerequisite for filing bankruptcy, which can also give you the opportunity to liquidate most of your debts and start with a clean financial slate.
Whether you are thinking about bankruptcy or just looking for help in regaining control over your debt, you may find it worthwhile to meet with a knowledgeable attorney.