Consumer debt counseling debt consoladation consolidating

When Norm Bour was 24, credit was so hard to come by he couldn't get a gas station company credit card without begging.

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The pain comes in making all those phone calls and knowing what to ask for.

Home equity lines don't require third-party guidance, nor does refinancing your first mortgage to get your hands on a lump sum of cash.

"She eventually had to sell her house to get out from underneath it."Deciding on debt consolidation is a simple formula for Greenberg: Compare your existing minimum payments to what your payments will be for that same debt under the DMP, including fees and voluntary contributions.

If the latter doesn't save you 5 percent to 10 percent, it's the wrong choice.

It drives Richard Musci, chief lending products officer at Schwab Bank, crazy to see teaser ads for low interest rates on home equity lines.

Any quotes that fall within prime minus 75 basis points to prime plus 2 percent are reserved for those who make the A credit list.Those lower down the credit spectrum can expect to strike deals for prime plus 4 percent or 5 percent, not to mention a point or two in fees."They're using it to get people in and take them so far down the road that by the time they sign the loan papers, they're committed. It also serves a second devious purpose: lower advertised rates push these companies to the top of the search engine lists. Bour's rule of thumb: If 90 percent of the lenders are advertising a 5.75 percentage rate, the lone shark waving even a 5.25 should send up a red flag."But it doesn't because people always think they're smart enough to find the deal no one else has," he says."If you're going to take this route, you might as well declare bankruptcy," Greenberg says.Many creditors will enroll you in their special reduced-interest programs if you approach them as an individual.Today, a majority of the home equity lines he approves as owner of Priority Plus Lending will be used to pay off Americans' credit card debts.