Managing Debt For Dummies
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To ensure that your debt management plan helps you get out of debt, you must take an active role in overseeing it. Even when working with a reputable credit counseling agency, problems can develop if you participate in a debt management plan. Follow these tips to minimize the potential for problems:

  • After your counselor tells you which of your unsecured creditors have agreed to participate in your debt management plan, contact them to confirm their participation before you send the counselor any money.

    Taking this step before paying any money may not always be possible. Due to cost constraints, a nonprofit credit counseling agency may not contact your creditors to find out if they will participate in your debt management plan until you have given the agency an initial month’s payment on the plan. The agency wants to be sure that you are serious about paying your debts before it spends time negotiating the plan details with your creditors.

  • If your counselor tells you that one of your creditors won’t agree to participate in your plan until you send the counselor an upfront payment, contact the creditor to confirm that what the counselor says is true.

  • Make sure that the schedule your counselor sets up for paying your debts provides enough time for your creditors to receive what they are owed each month before the payment due dates. Otherwise, you risk racking up late fees and penalties.

  • Every month, just after the date that your counselor is due to make a payment, confirm with the counselor that the payment was made on time.

  • Whenever you receive a monthly statement of your account from one of the creditors participating in your debt management plan, review it carefully to make sure your account was credited correctly.

  • Make sure that each creditor made any concessions it agreed to make, such as lowering your interest rate, waiving certain fees, or allowing you to make reduced payments or interest-only payments for a while.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

John Ventura: John is a best-selling author and a nationally boardcertified bankruptcy attorney. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of Houston Law School and the director of the Texas Consumer Complaint Center at the Law School.
As a young boy, John dreamed of becoming a Catholic priest so he could help everyday people, and he spent his high school years in a Catholic seminary. After graduating, however, John decided to achieve his dream by combining journalism with the law. Therefore, he earned an undergraduate degree in journalism and a law degree from the University of Houston Law School. Later, he and a partner established a law firm in Texas, building it into one of the most successful consumer bankruptcy firms in the state. He subsequently began a successful consumer law firm in South Texas.
Today, as Director of the Texas Consumer Complaint Center, he supervises law students as they help consumers with their legal problems. He is also a regular speaker at law conferences around the country and serves on the Bankruptcy Council for the Texas Bar Association.
John is the author of 13 books on consumer and small business legal matters, including Law For Dummies, 2nd edition; The Everyday Law Kit For Dummies; Divorce For Dummies, 2nd edition; and Good Advice for a Bad Economy (Berkeley Books). John has been interviewed about consumer money matters by numerous national media including CNN, NBC, NPR, Bloomberg Television & Radio, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Newsweek, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, Money, Inc. Martha Stewart’s Living, Bottomline, Entrepreneur,,, and In addition, his comments and advice have appeared in major newspapers around the country, and he has been a frequent guest on local radio programs.

Mary Reed: Mary Reed is a personal finance writer who has coauthored or ghostwritten numerous books on topics related to consumer money matters and legal rights. The books she has coauthored with John Ventura include The Everyday Law Kit for Dummies, Divorce For Dummies, and Good Advice for a Bad Economy (Berkeley Books). Mary has also written for the magazines Good Housekeeping, Home Office Computing, and Small Business Computing, and she has ghostwritten numerous articles that have appeared in national and local publications.
Mary is also the owner of Mary Reed Public Relations (MR•PR), an Austin, Texas-based firm that provides public relations services to a wide variety of clients, including authors, publishers, attorneys, financial planners, healthcare professionals, retailers, hotels, restaurants, and nonprofits.
Prior to starting her public relations business and writing career 20 years ago, she was vice president of marketing for a national market research firm, marketing director for a women’s healthcare organization, and public relations manager for Texas Monthly, a national award-winning magazine. She received her MBA from Boston University and her BA from Trinity University in Washington, DC.
In her free time, Mary serves on the board of a community development corporation in her neighborhood. She also enjoys long morning bike rides, road trips with her husband, gardening, working her way through the stack of books by her bed, taking care of her six cats, and spending time with her family and many friends.

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