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You can figure out how long it will take to pay off your debt using a debt payoff calculator like this one from CNN Money.It’s a great tool to see just how many years it takes to pay off debt, especially high interest credit card debt on which you make a small minimum monthly payment.You’ll make a single payment to the plan manager, who will distribute the funds to your creditors.While you’re in the program, you won’t be able to use your credit cards or open new ones.
A company will manage the plan and negotiate some cost reductions with your creditors, such as waived fees or a lower interest rate.
When you finish paying off credit cards with a consolidation loan, don’t be tempted to use the credit cards with their newly free credit limits. You may have heard that doing so could hurt your credit score, and it might.
But you can recover from credit score damage much more easily and quickly than you can recover from crushing debt.
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).
If you are a careful money manager who fell into debt because of unusual circumstances (medical or veterinary bill, loss of employment or some other emergency) and NOT because you spent more on your credit cards than you could afford to pay off each month, then leave the accounts open.