We are generally apprehensive of the unknown and this is true of contacting debt Management organisations as we don’t know what to expect. When you have made contact with a Debt Management charity you should then be put through to a debt management advisor. The debt advisor will assess your current personal financial situation and they will calculate your monthly affordability to pay your outstanding debts and commitments. (Mortgage, Loans, Store Cards and Credit Cards) Once they have accessed your current situation they will then be able to advise you what to do. They will recommend one of four different types of solutions, in order to provide you with a debt solution:-
1. Restructure your debt
Here you contact your loan providers and ask if you could increase the term of your loans, this will reduce your monthly payments. (just be aware that you will pay more in interest if you extend the term) You could depending on your age increase the term of your mortgage as long as it is paid before you retire or you may switch your mortgage to interest only from a repayment mortgage. This needs a lot of serious consideration as you will be leaving your home without a repayment vehicle to pay off your mortgage when you retire.(before doing any of these always take professional advise)
2. Debt Management Plan
Your debt management advisor will send every company that you owe money to a statement of your monthly income and outgoings. They will provide each of your creditors with a list detailing how they have broken down your payments and how much you can afford to pay each of your creditors monthly. You then repay your creditors back monthly and if your finances improve you will pay them more, in order to clear the outstanding debt you owe them. Your debt advisor will ask each of your creditors to stop charging you any further interest on the money you still owe them. It is dependent on each individual credit as to whether or not they agree to this.
3. Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA)
This is a legal agreement that is drawn up with all the companies that you owe money to. Your monthly payments are then agreed through the courts and you pay your IVA practitioner who then pays your creditors as agreed. An IVA is managed by an IVA Practitioner who oversees the whole process. The repayments are based on your affordability and your creditors agreeing to a reduced payment over the next three to five years
Circumstances might be so bad that your debt advisor may recommend you applying for Bankruptcy or you could wait until one of your creditor’s makes you bankrupt. This solution is normally recommended when your debts are so huge and you have no ability to pay them off. Bankruptcy can last for 12months to 5 years.
Of course there is a fifth option which is to ignore your whole situation and carry on as though nothing is wrong – this is certainly not advisable as this is probably part of the reason why you are in this mess in the first place.
Here are two warnings that you need to know about:
1. What ever you do don’t be tempted to abandon your property. Your mortgage lender can still add interest and charges to your debt until your home is sold. They can pursue you for the money for up to 12 years for their money. Try and sell you home first or seek a solution. Best solution here is pay the mortgage first each month this keeps a roof over your head and then divide what is left between the other creditors you owe money to after you have paid your utility bills and food bills. Make sure you pay them something each month.
2. Beware of Rent-buy-back schemes. This is another option which has appeared recently – Its being touted as the mortgage rescue plan or rent-back schemes and is not regulates at all. Be careful of these schemes as they will buy your home from you to get you out of a problem with your mortgage lender now at a knock down price for an immediate sale. They then offer to rent your home back to you so that you can continue living there. Slowly over a period of time they start to increase your rent in order to get you to move out. Take advice first!
In answer to the question of do Debt management Advisors bite? No they don’t bite but they can help and assist you. However be aware of any debt management company that offer to take on your situation for an upfront fee and a monthly fee in order to help administer your debt management plan. They will bite you as you will pay less to the companies you owe money to and you will end up getting further into debt to get out of debt!
I am advising you to contact a professional advisor from a Debt Management company or the Consumer Credit Counselling Services (CCCS) and talk through your personal circumstances first and take their advice. Don’t bury your head and hope the problem will go away or that you will win the National Lottery, the chances of that happening are 17,000 to 1.