Managing Your Debt

Debt can seem overwhelming, but these resources will help you tackle it. From student loans to credit card debt, learn how to best manage your payments, get out of debt, and avoid debt in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How can I reduce my debt quickly?

    How fast you can pay off your debt depends on your budget and how much you’re willing to sacrifice each month in order to make bigger debt payments. Plus, there are many ways to pay off debt that will work best for different people. The first step to paying off debt, in general, is knowing exactly how much you owe. Once you’ve tallied the total, you’ll want to make a budget. This way, you can look at your expenses compared to your income and decrease spending in certain areas.

    One common way to get out of debt faster is to lower your interest rates so you can put more money toward paying down your principal. The three ways to do this are through a balance transfer, debt consolidation, or negotiating a lower rate with creditors.

  • What is a debt management plan?

    A debt management plan (DMP) is administered by a nonprofit credit counseling agency to help consumers pay off their debt in full, under reduced interest rates and a simplified payment schedule. Enrolling in a DMP can help you tackle unsecured debt from credit cards, personal loans, or medical bills. While a DMP can provide structure and help you save money over time, it also has its drawbacks. Not everyone qualifies for a debt management plan, as it is based on income and budget, and only about half of those who do qualify successfully complete the repayment plan. Plus, there are many fees you must pay, including a set-up fee and an ongoing monthly fee.

  • Is debt management bad for your credit?

    How you handle your debt has an impact on your credit score. For example, if you miss payments because you can’t afford your debt, you’ll lose credit score points. Choosing debt settlement or bankruptcy to deal with your debt will also result in credit score damage from which it takes several months, or even years, to recover. The debt consolidation process can hurt your credit score too. That being said, some debt solutions are still worth considering. Being debt-free is good for your overall financial health, and you can rebuild your credit score over time.

  • What is the best way to get out of debt?

    There are many strategies for getting out of debt, and the best one will depend on each individual’s personal and financial situation. Generally, though, the best way to get out of debt is to take small steps like avoiding new debt and building an emergency fund in order to build a strong financial foundation. No matter the debt you are trying to repay, tracking your progress along the way will also keep you on track to paying off your debt.

  • What happens to a debt after seven years?

    Seven years is the length of time that many negative items can be listed on your credit report, as defined by the Fair Credit Reporting Act. This includes late payments, debt collections, charged-off accounts, and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. After this time frame, the debt will fall off your credit report. Certain other negative items, like some judgments, unpaid tax liens, and Chapter 7 bankruptcy, can remain on your credit report for more than seven years.

Key Terms

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Managing Your Debt:

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Page Sources

  1. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "How Long Does Negative Information Remain On My Credit Report?"

  2. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "How To Reduce Your Debt."

  3. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "Here’s How Medical Debt Hurts Your Credit Report."

  4. "Dealing With Debt."

  5. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "What Should I Do When A Debt Collector Contacts Me?"

  6. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "What Are Debt Settlement/debt Relief Services And Should I Use Them?"