When your finances seem to have overtaken your life and you find yourself unable to make your payments each month, before you decide to declare bankruptcy you should attempt to obtain debt settlements with each of your creditors. A debt settlement is when a creditor agrees to accept less than the total balance owed in a lump sum payment, in order to close out the account and have it reported to the credit bureaus as paid.
Many people don’t even consider debt settlement an option, but you would be surprised how easy it actually is to get a creditor to settle with you if you have a history of making your payments late, or if you consistently miss your payments all together. Creditors would prefer to receive part of the money owed to them than none at all, which is what they receive if you were to file bankruptcy!
There are debt settlement companies that can help you, but in many cases, you can get your creditors to settle with you on your own. Try the following steps for obtaining a debt settlement and paying off your debt with the least amount of money and in the least amount of time.
First, determine how much you can pay to settle your total debt. Figure out what your absolutely essential monthly expenses are, including rent or mortgage payments, food, medical expenses, etc. Subtract your total expenses from the amount of your net pay and whatever you have let over is the amount you have available to pay towards a debt settlement plan.
Next, make a list of all of the creditors you owe and are late paying, and how much you owe to each creditor. Determine and write down how much of your debt settlement budget you can pay towards the account.
Write to each of your creditors or the collection agencies handling the account if it has already been moved to collections and explain your situation to them. Explain that your financial situation has changed, and you are very close to declaring bankruptcy and are unable to make payments as originally agreed.
Tell each of your creditors the total amount of debt you owe, and how much you have available to pay off that debt. Explain how much you can pay on your account with the creditor and let them know you are sending the offer to each of your creditors- and that the ones who agree to your offer are the accounts you will focus on paying off first! This might encourage them to agree!
You will hopefully receive a few acceptance letters. You are also likely to receive a few rejections from creditors who are unwilling at this time to accept a debt settlement. Keep a copy of all letters in your records, and for any creditors that agreed with the debt settlement offer, send them a payment immediately as long as you have in writing their agreement.
Each month, you can repeat the process and send out new letters to the creditors who have not yet agreed to your debt settlement offers. You’ll have higher percentages available to pay towards the debt now, as you have begun to pay off some of your debts and you will increase the number of creditors who agree to settle.
Just be sure that you insist on getting agreements in writing- because there have been some creditors that agree to the debt settlement offers on the phone and then once they receive your payment, they deny ever agreeing to the debt settlement offer in the first place!