Debt Relief

What is Debt Relief and When Should I Seek It?

Debt can seem like an insurmountable burden, impossible to escape once a consumer has gotten too far in. Different options are available for dealing with credit card debt, student loan debt, and other consumer debts.  

Many times, consumers find themselves overwhelmed with several different types of debt in differing amounts.

Credit Card Debt

Negotiating a Lower Interest Rate on Credit Cards

Paying down a credit card balance can be difficult, especially if the card carries a high interest rate. According to CreditCards.com, the average credit card interest rate in the U.S. is 16.15 percent (16.15%), and for many consumers, their interest rate is significantly higher, which can make paying off large balances very difficult. The good news is credit card interest rates can be negotiated, so long as the consumer knows how to do it.   

It helps to do some preparation before contacting the credit card company. The consumer should first be aware of what his or her credit score is before making contact. The credit card company will closely examine the consumer’s credit score, as well as his or her payment history. Every consumer is entitled to a free annual credit report, which should be closely reviewed before calling the credit card company. Be aware of all missed payments or late payments in case these are brought up in conversation.  

Credit Card Debt

Credit Card Debt Drops a Staggering $56.5 Billion in First Quarter of 2021

Credit card balances saw a record reduction during the first quarter of 2021, after a previous record-setting reduction year was seen in 2020.  According to a study published by the personal-finance website WalletHub, American consumers paid off $56.5 billion in credit card debt during the first quarter of 2021. 

WalletHub reported that American consumers paid off $82.1 billion in credit card debt in 2020, which is a significant accomplishment considering the challenges many people faced last year. However, this decrease in credit card balances does not necessarily mean that the credit card debt crisis has been solved. There is still a collectively $900 billion in outstanding credit card debt. The average household carries a balance of $7,519, and these figures are expected to rise. In fact, WalletHub is projecting consumers will add $60 billion to the nation’s total credit card balances.  

The quarter one decrease in credit card debt was 51 percent larger than the average credit balance paydown since the Great Recession.   

Certain U.S. cities did better than others in paying down credit card balances. Pembroke Pines, Florida, ranked number five on WalletHub’s list with an average household credit card debt of $16,549 and a total credit card debt of $948,650,144. Pembroke Pines citizens paid a total of $64,124,649 of this credit card debt with an average household balance paydown of $1,119.  

Fort Lauderdale came in 24th on the list of cities that did well in paying down their credit card balances. The average Fort Lauderdale household carried $14,400 in credit card debt with a total debt in the amount of $1,073,761,245. Of this amount, Fort Lauderdale residents paid down $72,581,618.  

Financial analysts believe that this data shows that U.S. consumers are in good financial shape in 2021. However, they do anticipate a $60 billion national increase by the end of the fourth quarter of 2021, considering the fact that COVID stimulus packages and additional unemployment benefits will phase out this year.  

As bankruptcy attorneys, we see credit card debt as one of the most common problems facing those with serious financial challenges.  It is not surprising with the high interest rates, unreasonable fees, harassing debt collection calls, penalties and never-ending minimum payments that do not even make a dent in your actual debt.

Filing for bankruptcy is a viable option for those struggling with insurmountable credit card debt. Chapter 7 is the fastest form of consumer bankruptcy and forgives most unsecured debts like credit card debt, medical bills and personal loans.  There are certain qualifications a consumer must meet in regards to income, assets and expenses to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which is determined by the bankruptcy means test.

If you have questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.   

 

Credit Card Debt

Which Debts Should You Pay First After Paying Off Your Credit Cards?

Credit card debt is not the only type of consumer debt people struggle with. Once this debt is paid off in full, it helps to have a plan on which debts to tackle next.

According to data from the Federal Reserve and TransUnion, American consumers paid off a total of $82.9 billion in credit card debt in 2020. Credit card balances continued to drop by $49 billion in the first quarter of 2021, which is the second-largest quarterly balance decline seen since 1999. Despite this fact, more than 20 million American consumers have their student loan debts in forbearance.  

For the most part, financial advisors recommend that consumers pay down any debts they have that carry the highest interest rates, which is why credit cards are usually the first focus. With stimulus programs still in place, providing extra income to consumers temporarily, many financial advisors argue a different theory should be followed. 

Instead of focusing on the debt with the highest interest rate, consumers should look at all their debts and consider other options, such as refinancing other debt sources to lower their interest rates or modify payments. Refinancing could be a possibility for unsecured personal loans, as well as for mortgage debt.  With lower interest rates, consumers are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to save money and lower monthly payments, making it easier to pay off debts in full. 

Once credit card debt is paid off, many financial advisors recommend that consumers focus next on paying off their car loans. A car loses its value significantly as soon as it is driven, which is why so many consumers find themselves owing more on the car loan than the vehicle is worth. The interest rates of car loans tend to be moderate to high, although not always as high as credit card debt, depending on the consumer. Many times, it is advisable to either sell the car and use the proceeds to pay off what is owed on the loan or to refinance the loan.   

Once personal loans, credit card debt, and car loans are paid off by the consumer, it may then be advisable to pay off outstanding federal student loans. Since payments and interest is paused on federal student loans until September 30, 2021. During this time, any payment will go towards principal and not interest rate. Paying down this debt will only help improve the consumer’s credit score. 

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If you have questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.   

Credit Card Debt

Should I Contribute to my 401K or Pay Off Credit Card Debt?

Credit card debt is a burden that many consumers struggle with. Without a large influx of cash, it can be difficult to pay off outstanding credit card bills. Many consumers also struggle with deciding whether they should focus first on paying these debts off or whether they should be taking any extra funds and saving for retirement in a 401(k) or similar plan.  

Paying Off Credit Card Debt

Credit cards come with high interest rates, which can make paying the balance off impossible. The larger the balance gets, the harder it can be to pay down, which is why it can often be a good idea to focus on paying this debt down first. Additionally, paying down the credit card balance to zero will also noticeably improve the consumer’s credit score. A better credit score will eventually benefit him or her for when it comes time to make a big purchase, such as a car or a home. It will also eliminate the monthly payment from the consumer’s budget, allowing him or her the chance to save for the future, including retirement.  

Credit, Credit Score, Financial Advice

Why Your Debt-to-Income Ratio Is So Important

A person’s credit score is not the only figure lenders look to when determining whether to approve an application for financing. Many times, lenders will also look to the applicant’s debt-to-income ratio (DTI) when making a determination to approve financing.  

A consumer’s debt-to-income ratio looks at whether the individual is bringing in enough income to meet his or her monthly bills. The actual DTI figure is computed by taking the consumer’s gross monthly income and dividing it by his or her monthly debt payments. The result is the person’s DTI.  

Credit Card Debt, Debt Relief

The Best Way to Conquer Credit Card Debt

Many consumers find themselves still struggling with large amounts of credit card debt. Much of this credit card debt is carried over from previous years. Certain steps can be taken to tackle credit card debt and either pay it off in full or reduce the amount owed to a more reasonable number.   

The first step is to push the pause button on spending and inventory the situation. The consumer’s debt cannot be conquered until the spending stops. It is important to review what has been purchased the past few months, determining how much has been spent and what is owed. It also helps to write down what the interest rate is for each card, noting the balance owed and the minimum monthly payment. Taking this first step will allow the consumer to be able to put together a budget and a plan to pay off the debt over time.  

Once the consumer has a chance to review his or her debt situation, the next step is to select a strategy to pay down the debt. Two of the most common methods include the snowball method and the avalanche method.  

With the snowball method, the consumer arranges his or her credit card balances from smallest to largest balances. The consumer focuses his or her attention on the card with the smallest balance first, paying down as much as possible on that card while continuing to make the minimum monthly payments on the other cards. Once the first card is paid in full, the consumer focuses on the card with the next smallest balance until all cards are paid off in full. The snowball method requires a great deal of patience and discipline, but it can be an effective way to pay down debt. However, this method does involve paying more in interest over time since credit cards with higher balances tend to have higher interest rates. 

The avalanche method works similarly to the snowball method, but the consumer focuses on the credit card with the highest interest rate first. This method allows the consumer to get out of debt quicker than the snowball method since it focuses on the larger balances with the higher interest rates first, but it can be hard to stay motivated with this method since seeing the results of the consumer’s efforts can be harder to immediately see. 

Another method to pay down credit card debt involves consolidating the debt through a personal loan or balance transfer.  Many credit card companies offer balance transfers, allowing the consumer to transfer multiple credit card balances to one card with a zero or low introductory interest rates. It is important that the consumer pay the balance down before that promotional period expires, however. Otherwise, the interest rate can skyrocket at the end of the promotional period, leaving the consumer in a worse position than before. A personal loan can also be used to pay off all the consumer’s credit card balances. This method allows the consumer to focus his or her attention on one, fixed monthly payment over time in lieu of multiple credit card payments.      

Please click here to read more.  

If you have questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.   

Medical Debt

The Reasons to Avoid Paying Medical Bills with Credit Cards

Most people hope to avoid having long-term medical debt on their credit report, which is why it can be tempting to want to pay off medical debt with a credit card. However, the consequences that come along with using one form of debt to pay off another can be enough to want to keep anyone from taking this route.   

Medical debt is reported to be the number one cause of U.S. bankruptcy filings. It has been reported that over two-thirds of all bankruptcies between 2013 and 2016 involved medical debt. According to a 2019 study, one in every three households carried credit card debt after using credit to pay off medical bills.  

Credit Card Debt, Debt Relief

Best Ways to Pay Off a Large Credit Card Bill

Many Americans ended the year 2020 with large credit card balances, and now with the new year in full swing, they may be looking for ways to chip away at that debt. Carrying a high balance on credit cards not only makes life harder, but it can present a major threat to that person’s financial stability. Several different options are available to consumers seeking to reduce or pay off their large credit card balances. What works for one consumer may not work for another. Ultimately, it depends on the person’s credit history and current financial situation as to what will work for him or her.  

Personal Loans 

One popular method to pay down a credit card has been by taking out a personal loan to pay off the balance. This method is also known as debt consolidation, and it can be a successful way for consumers to pay down several large balances at once. By taking out a personal loan, he or she can use this money to pay off all these outstanding balances, leaving just the loan balance to pay a monthly basis. It effectively transfers credit card debt to a one, singular debt with a lower interest rate. Not only does this make repaying the amount easier, but it can also often save a lot of money in interest that would otherwise build up over time on multiple credit card balances.  

COVID-19, Credit Card Debt

Credit Card Debt Falls 9 Percent Despite Decline in Economic Conditions

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has hit the country’s economy hard, but this fact does not seem to be reflected in the nation’s credit card debt According to statistics from credit reporting agency, Experian, credit card balances have declined at a record rate in 2020.  

Economic crises tend to lead to a change in consumer behavior. World War II pushed consumers to change their spending habits in ways they had not done before. The COVID-19 pandemic with forced lockdowns and widespread unemployment has likewise put things into perspective for American consumers, pushing them to change their spending habits, as well, including how they use their credit cards.