Q: What is your opinion of debt management programs? What are the pros and cons?
–K. Smith, Via the Internet
A: Entering a debt management program is a serious decision, and I think it should be viewed as a very last resort. Unfortunately, they’re not always trustworthy, and many have taken consumers’ money and given them more headaches than credit relief.
While debt management programs can be helpful in highlighting some debt reduction strategies or mediating some claims with creditors, you have to pay for the services they provide. The monthly fees you pay these programs to help get you out of debt could be better used actually paying off your debt.
From a practical standpoint, the only ways to get out of debt are 1) to cut expenses so you can pay down debt or 2) increase your income and pay off debt. At BLACK ENTERPRISE, we believe that everyone can find ways to eliminate debt on their own. In our Wealth Building Kit, which can be downloaded free at blackenterprise.com/wbkform .asp, you will find our 10 wealth building principles, and principle No. 4: to engage in sound budget, credit, and tax management practices, can get you started on the right track.
The Internet offers an abundance of information on debt management programs. If you decide that debt management is for you, the Federal Trade Commission Website (www.ftc.gov/ bcp/conline/pubs/credit/fiscal.htm) contains information you’ll need.