Even if you do end up with some credit score damage, the effects may not be quite as drastic as you think. Any negative items will remain on your credit report for seven years. However, the “weight” of those penalties on your credit scores will decrease over time. In other words, the effect of a debt settled last year will be more significant that one settled five years ago.
Debt snowball: Coined by personal finance expert Dave Ramsey, the debt snowball method focuses on paying off the smallest debt first, while maintaining minimum monthly payments on all other debts. As each debt is paid off, the money that was used for the previous debt is “snowballed” and used to pay the next smallest debt. This process is repeated until all debts are gone. Even though this strategy might not save you as much money on interest fees, some people find it motivating to pay off one account at a time.
Credit score takes a beating. This definitely will happen with either debt settlement or bankruptcy. Even if you eventually reach a debt settlement with a lender, there will be a note on your credit report for seven years that says you missed payments and settled for less than what was owed. Chapter 7 bankruptcy stays on a credit report for 10 years and Chapter 13 bankruptcy is there for seven years. This will make it difficult to get a loan for a home or car at an affordable rate.
The debt settlement process involves hard-core, long term debt collection attempts by your creditors, and serious credit score damage that will last for many years. Debt consolidation companies like National Debt Relief and Freedom Debt Relief offer to help you through the process for a fee (eating into your savings). They will instruct you to stop paying your bills, which leaves you open to lawsuits by your creditors.

There is one more option that tries to split the difference between lower interest charges and lower payments. It’s called an extended repayment plan. This can be used to extend the term on a standard or graduated plan from 10 years to 25. It can lower your payments without the hassle of income certification. However, the payments will not be as low as what you can achieve with hardship programs.
And if you want to go even further, check out the 14-day free trial of Financial Peace University. Did you know that the average family who completes Financial Peace University pays off $5,300 in debt and saves $2,700 within the first 90 days? Nearly 6 million people have used Financial Peace University to budget, save money, and get out of debt once and for all. Now it’s your turn.
Do you use credit cards to “get by” when you don’t have enough cash?Narrator: People often use credit cards to make ends meet when they have a limited cash flow. But that can lead to problems with DEBT Narrator: High interest rates on credit cards can double the cost of items if you’re only paying the minimum amount due each month. Renee amassed over $19,000 in credit card debt Narrator: For Renee, getting by on credit cards during graduate school put her on a treadmill of debt. Her credit card interest rates were between 15-20% Narrator: She was shelling out over $1,200 a month to her creditors, but getting nowhere fast 'On-screen quote from Renee' “I talked to a few companies first. Consolidated Credit stood out because I was still in control of my finances.” Narrator: Luckily, Renee found Consolidated Credit and enrolled in a debt management program. Debt Management Program: Before $1,200 per month; After $500 per month! Narrator: The program reduced her total monthly payments by almost 60 percent. 'On-screen quote from Renee' “The experience of living without credit cards really changed my mindset. It changed how I budget and spend my money now. Narrator: The monthly savings meant she didn’t need credit cards to get by anymore, because her budget was balanced. After her interest rates were reduced to 1%, Renee was debt free in 4 years! Narrator: And she could use part of that monthly savings to save up for a new house. Renee had this to say in closing: 'On-screen quote from Renee' It was a great feeling that I was no longer using credit to get by. If you feel like you’re barely keeping your head above water, pay your credit cards off. And there’s nothing wrong with asking for help!
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