Bad credit can happen to anyone. Especially in America where credit is used to purchase everything from groceries to gas, having bad credit can be isolating and humiliating. But any number of things can propel us toward bad credit. Job loss, medical expenses, and family emergencies can all conspire to pile our debt higher and higher. With interest, late fees, and over-limit fees, debt can multiply at an astronomical rate in a matter of weeks. Once you're in the hole, getting out can seem next to impossible.
Take Charge of Bad Debt There are things you can do to begin take charge of your bad debt. First and foremost, get a realistic view on the damage. This means opening the bills that have piled up, unopened, and making a list of all the outstanding totals. It can be grim work, for sure, and is probably not on anybody's "Top Ten List of Ways to Have Fun"! But being honest with yourself is the first step in taking control. Once you've opened all those bills and documented the totals, contact one of the credit reporting agencies for a copy of your credit report.
The three major credit-reporting bureaus - Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax - are required by law to give you a free copy of your credit report once a year. Try not to be discouraged by what you see. You're on the path to making it right! Help for Getting Out of Debt Now that you have a better understanding of where you really stand, it's time to get help. There are a lot of companies out there that offer "credit repair" services - for a fee.
While it might be tempting to pay someone to make your financial difficulties disappear, these services can't really solve your problems. A good rule of thumb? That great old standby, "If it looks too good to be true, it probably is." Most of the services out there that offer fee-based credit repair are more interested in separating you from your money than in separating you from your bad credit rating. The truth is, there's no fast and easy way out.
Repairing your credit will take time and effort. But there is honest-to-goodness help available! There are many organizations that offer real credit counseling and assistance at no charge, or for a very minimal fee based on a sliding scale of what you can afford. These agencies will help you outline your fixed monthly expenses (such as rent or mortgage payments, insurance, etc.).
They'll even build in the extras that we all know are a part of life - things like gifts, clothing, and entertainment. Once they've factored in the realities of day-to-day life, they'll help you determine how much of your income is really left to pay off your debt. Depending on the situation, they can even contact your creditors to arrange for lower monthly payments, a temporary break from accruing interest, or a reduced pay-off.
All of these things will bring you closer and closer to repairing your credit. The good news is that it is possible to recover from bad credit. By confronting the situation honestly, and seeking credit counseling, you have taken the first step toward gaining control over your finances - and your life.
John Edmond worked for many years in insurance and finance and now writes on credit cards and debt management at Credit Card Debt Sign up here for the Newsletter and get 5 free money related ebooks"