Being in debt can be a highly stressful experience, not least because it is often impossible to see any way out of it. When your debts build to a certain point, it is easy to feel that you are never going to find a way of getting enough money to pay back the amount that you owe. At times like this, it is natural to look at whether there may be free money available to help pay off the debt. This idea is sometimes reinforced by adverts which appear to suggest that such funds are readily available for the asking. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and suggestions that there could be, are deliberately misleading. However, there are several other very real alternatives which can help people to get out of serious debt, some of which can have the same effect as being given some free money.
While no-one is going to literally hand out free money for you to pay off your debts, there are some schemes which have the result of wiping out large portions of your debt, thus producing the same effect as if you had a substantial gift of cash. Such schemes exist, and are designed to assist people who are in serious debt problems, usually meaning five-figure sums. These are known as debt settlement programs, and debt management plans. There is an additional scheme called an individual voluntary arrangement, or IVA, which involves making a reduced payment for a fixed period of time, after which your remaining debts are written off.
Debt Management plans allow you to consolidate all your unsecured debts into a single monthly payment. Please be aware that these are not debt consolidation loans, which just involve borrowing more money to pay off the full amount that you owe on your debts. With the debt management plan, you do not borrow any more money. What you get is the advantage of having experts negotiate with your creditors to agree on reduced payments, lower interest rates, waiving of penalty charges, etc, which all bring down the total of what you need to repay. You just have to be able to keep up with a fixed monthly repayment, and the end result is that your debts should be cleared far earlier than they otherwise would.
If you are unable to afford to meet the required payments for a debt management plan, then debt settlement could be the answer. This process involves a debt settlement company negotiating with your creditors to settle your debts on new terms which you can afford. This usually means getting large portions of your debt written off, sometimes in exchange for lump sum payments. The debt settlement process can take some time, and will often mean that you stop making payments to creditors, and pay what you can into a separate fund, which is then used towards your newly negotiated repayments. The end result should mean that you are debt free within three to five years.
Debt management plans, and debt settlement are offered in both the US and UK, but one other option is an Individual Voluntary Arrangement, usually referred to as an IVA. While debt management plans are informal agreements which depend on getting the co-operation of creditors, an IVA is a legally binding arrangement. One of the main differences being that, if you can get at least seventy-five percent of your creditors to agree to the IVA, the remaining ones are legally bound by it too. IVAs were intended to provide an alternative to filing for bankruptcy, and as such are only for serious debt problems. When you set up an IVA you agree to make fixed payments to your creditors, for an amount that you can afford, over a fixed period. This period will not normally exceed five years, and at the end of that time, your remaining debts are usually written off. It is, therefore, possible to get rid of a large proportion of your debt without having to declare bankruptcy, making an IVA an immensely popular option for many people with serious debt problems.