if you value your credit rating then stay away from debt CONsolidation programs. these debt CONsolidation companies will have a bankruptcy effect on your credit rating if you care about it. Its just like you went to court and filed Chapter 13. Your best bet is to do it yourself. We ( my hubby and I) were in serious debt 5 years ago. We got turned on to Dave Ramsey's radio show last october and since then we are more financially secure than we have ever been-- We dont stress about money anymore and in less than 10 years we will have our 85K $ house paid off ( 30 yr mortgage that we got 3 years ago. We have paid off over 10 K in debt between Nov 2004- april 2005 on a 50K$ income with 2 young children. Both of us work. We have plans to pay off Hubbys student loans (35K) within 2 years but could do it faster if we would budget tighter. We still go out and eat, just not as often, and I have been cooking meals every weeknite. We budget everything down to the penny, everything from groceries to cat litter-- everything is categorized. if money runs out before that category gets replenished for that month, then we just do without. ( our children will never do without-- we make sure they are taken care of but we (hubby and I) will do without if needed to keep our budget) you would not believe how good it feels to pay off debt. We dont have to worry about money anymore-- we dont feel stressed about it at all. We know the bills will be paid and we dont worry about bounced checks ( the only checks we write are to pay bills or debt) and we dont use our debit cards. We dont have credit cards and never will have them again. we dont have creditors calling and harrassing us anymore nor do we get nasty letters in the mail from them. Its a nice peaceful life monetary wise.
If you want more info about dave ramsey, pm me or go to his website daveramsey.com
You can negotiate with credit companies-- call them up and tell them flat out i dont have the full amount but if you will accept this much i will send it to you today. Just make sure you get the agreements in WRITING-- send all payments via registered mail return reciept so you can PROVE it got there. I have heard of several various credit companies that will recieve money from a debtor and say they didnt get it and hold the check until right before a year is up if they think they can squeeze more money out of you. Unethical but what do they care-- they make their living making other peoples lives miserable-- using harrassment and other unethical techniques to get their money.