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How to manage credit card debt

Credit debt is an ongoing problem for many people in New Jersey. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. If you are struggling to make minimum payments, you should learn more about your options.

Assess your financial situation

Evaluate your financial situation so you can get a clear picture of what you are working with. Consider ways you can cut back on nonessentials to start chipping away at your credit card bills. If you have already examined your income and concluded there is no way you can comfortably make the minimum payments on your accounts, then you should calculate the amount you can afford to pay.

Negotiate with your creditors

Contact your creditors. Let them know you are willing to make payments, but not the minimum ones. If you are only a few months behind on your bills, you may be able to negotiate with your creditor for a forbearance on the delinquent amount or even a reduction in interest rates and minimum payments.

Inform them of your hardship and ask what your options are. Many credit card companies would prefer for their customers to make some type of payments instead of defaulting on their accounts, and have programs in place for cardholders experiencing financial difficulty. Depending on your exact circumstances and the creditors, their program may be a good option. Just remember to research the requirements before you enroll.

Settle your debt

You may be able to settle some of your credit card debts for less than the total amount owed. This may not seem like a viable option if you are living paycheck to paycheck, but it can be if you have a family member or close friend who is willing to assist you in making your financial situation easier. If you can take advantage of this option, make sure you get all agreements in writing before you pay.

Debt management program

If your creditors refuse to lower payment amounts, then you should seek outside intervention. Depending on the amount of credit card debt you have, you may qualify for a debt management program. No two programs are the same, so it is important for you to examine your options carefully. Also, you should be aware that many companies charge for their assistance, though there are some credible nonprofit organizations.

If you are dealing with unemployment, insufficient income, or other issues that result in you having little to no income for your bills, and this financial situation is potentially long-term, you may want to consider bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is not for everyone. However, it can keep you from losing what you have left.

If you have questions or concerns about credit card debt and bankruptcy, you should speak with an attorney about your financial situation.

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