Debt Negotiation Options You Can Live With

by Tracy Murray-Crouch

Anyone planning to go through the debt reduction negotiation process can hope to accomplish a few things:

  • eliminating all debt over a three to four year period, in spite of being months behind on payments with large balances
  • getting the ball rolling by negotiating a 40%+ reduction in principle balances with debtors
  • avoiding bankruptcy as well as expensive debt consolidation loans

All of these objectives are possible, but they’ll come at a price. You’ll have both the hard dollar cost of the debt settlement negotiation as well as the resulting damage to your credit score (which may not be much of a concern for anyone who’s in deep enough that they’ve reached this point).

So what do debt negotiation companies actually do for you?

This process is geared toward all of your unsecured debts – everything from credit cards to personal loans to medical bills. Think of it this way – the debt settlement and negotiation process is designed to relieve you of debts that don’t involve a purchase or product that can be repossessed by the lender. A credit card company obviously can’t take back the vacation you bought with your Visa, nor can the hospital repossess the care you received when you had your gall bladder removed. Since there’s nothing to sell to repay your loan, and the lender has nothing they can take back from you, there are only a couple of options left:

  • the borrower files for bankruptcy and walks away from most or all of the loan balances
  • the borrower and the lender – with the help of an intermediary – settle on a reduced principle balance and interest rate that restructures the debt, allowing the borrower to make payments and complete the loan

Neither case is idea for lender or borrower, but one scenario is better for both. Settling on a reduced loan amount and interest rate allows the lender to recover at least some of its money, while the borrower gets to see a light at the end of the debt tunnel as well as avoid bankruptcy.

Do-it-yourself negotiation of debt reduction?

Absolutely. You don’t have to go through this process with the aid of a company. I have a good acquaintance – a woman whose ex-husband had buried her in debt – who worked with every one of the creditors on an individual basis to get her payments and balances to a level she could pay off in a reasonable period of time. When all was said and done she had gotten an average of 50% of her principle balances reduced, and although she’d still have to pay for a few years, she would eventually be free.

The diy method of reducing debt has two benefits: it saves you the fees a company would charge you, and it gives you the added sense of accomplishment that comes from fighting your way out of a totally unmanageable debt situation. Being extremely deep in debt crushes your self esteem, and negotiating your way out of it can be a real boon to your self image.

However you approach the process, negotiating your way out of seemingly insurmountable debt is absolutely a smart thing to do. This country has far too many people willing to walk away from their obligations. Asking your creditors to take huge losses on your debt isn’t an idea scenario, but it’s better than bailing out on your commitments entirely.

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