In Too Deep

Americans have nearly $800 billion in credit card debt. Is debt consolidation the answer to your financial woes?

behavioral finance — the application of psychology principles to managing and understanding of money. Kathleen Gurney financial psychologist and author of Your Money Personality: What It Is and How You Can Profit from It (Doubleday; $37.98), developed the Moneymax Financial Personality Profile. The questionnaire determines attitudes on 13 financial traits that influence money behavior and investment decisions. It helps individuals change self-sabotaging money styles into styles that are more productive and enriching. To discover your money personality with this profile, go to www.kathleengurney.com.

While these forms of debt consolidation may work for some, they may not work for you. In that case, there are viable options you can exercise to help protect your credit rating. If your credit is good, call your credit card companies and ask that they lower your interest rates, set all of your due dates to the same day, and waive any over-the-limit or past-due fees. Then aggressively pay off your debt. If you are behind in payments to your creditors, consider negotiating a workout arrangement, which is an installment agreement with one or more creditors for settling the debt for less than you owe.

“People consolidate their debt because of fear, panic, stress, anxiety, and internal and external pressure. Rather than look for in-depth solutions, consumers in crisis gravitate toward the perceived easiest path to eliminate the problem,” says Rhode. “The most obvious alternative to debt consolidation is to repay the bills in an orderly fashion.”

The first stage of problem debt is denial. If the debt stems from fundamental underlying issues like living beyond your means, then debt consolidation can be the worst choice.

HELPFUL WEBSITESWHEN CONSIDERING DEBT CONSOLIDATION

  • www.nfcc.org National Foundation for Credit Counseling
  • www.cccsatl.org Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Atlanta
  • www.myvesta.org Myvesta.org
  • www.debtsmart.com DebtSmart.com
  • www.ftc.gov Federal Trade Commission
  • www.bbb.org Better Business Bureau

HELPFUL BOOKSFOR BEFORE AND AFTER DEBT CONSOLIDATION

  • Talk Your Way Out of Credit Card Debt By Scott Bilker
  • How To Settle Your Debts Without Committing Financial Suicide By Norman H. Perlmutter
  • Everything You Wanted to Know About Credit But Were Too Afraid To Ask By Renee D. Crenshaw and Anthony B. Miles
  • The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke By Suze Orman
  • 7 Money Mantras For A Richer Life By Michelle Singletary
  • Your Credit Score: How to Fix, Improve, and Protect the 3-Digit Number That Shapes Your Financial Future By Liz Pulliam-Weston
  • 100 Questions You Should Ask About Your Personal Finances By Ilyce R. Glink
  • Credit Repair By Robin Leonard
  • Zero Debt: The Ultimate Guide to Financial Freedom By Lynnette Khalfani
  • How To Get Out of Debt, Stay Out of Debt, and Live Prosperously By Jerrold Mundis

Note: To purchase these books, go to blackenterprise.com/books

Pages: 1 2 3 4
ACROSS THE WEB