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Your credit may be hurt if you run up credit card balances again, close most or all of your remaining cards, or miss a payment on your debt consolidation loan.
Learn more about how debt consolidation affects your credit score.
It’s also not the solution if you’re overwhelmed by debt and have no hope of paying it off even with reduced payments.
If your debt load is small — you can pay it off within six months to a year at your current pace — and you’d save only a negligible amount by consolidating, don’t bother.
It’s up to consumers to decide which one best suits their situation.
Debt consolidation is also referred to as “bill consolidation” or “credit consolidation.” By any name, consolidating debt effectively should get you out of debt faster and eventually unsecured debt such as credit cards.
» MORE: Follow these 3 steps to pay off debt Two additional ways to consolidate debt are taking out a home equity loan or 401(k) loan.
Just make sure this consolidation is part of a larger plan to get out of debt and you don’t run up new balances on the cards you’ve consolidated. Debt consolidation can help your credit if you make on-time payments or consolidating shrinks your credit card balances.
Try a do-it-yourself debt payoff method instead, such as the debt snowball or debt avalanche.
If the total of your debts is more than half your income, and the calculator above reveals that debt consolidation is not your best option, you’re better off seeking debt relief than treading water.
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Next, look at your monthly budget and add up spending on the basic necessities like food, housing, utilities and transportation. However, those characteristics – effective budgeting and motivation – aren’t generally evident when people fall behind on their bills.