How to Consolidate Your Debts in Montana

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Written by Upsolve Team.  
Updated January 28, 2020

Summary

The rest of this article will lead you step-by-step through the process of pursuing debt consolidation in Montana. Each section will explain a little about the process and how it relates to constructing a customized debt consolidation that can potentially place you on a path to becoming debt-free.

On average, residents of Montana have access to $7,000 less per year than the average American does. This affects their ability to easily pay their mortgage, put food on their table, buy clothes and put gas in their car. When combined with the fact that the average Montanan carries $5,400 in credit card debt, paying all monthly bills as they become due, every single month, can be a difficult task. If you’re struggling with a difficult financial situation, know that pursuing a Montana debt consolidation process may help you to manage your debt and stabilize your finances over all. 

Debt consolidation involves combining unsecured high-interest rate debt payments into one single account. One way of consolidating your debts involves securing a new loan to pay off all your other debts, then paying off that loan via single monthly payments over a fixed period of time. This type of loan can take many different forms –a personal loan, a home equity loan, a credit card balance transfer, or refinancing your mortgage to pull out equity. Debt consolidation can combine debts as varied as credit card debt, medical bills, furniture or appliance loans, and personal loans.

Another form of debt consolidation, known as a debt management plan, can be a particularly effective way to pay down your debt if your don’t have a solid credit score that allows you to secure a debt consolidation loan. This process requires you to work with an accredited non-profit credit counseling agency to combine all your unsecured debts. You then make single monthly payments to the agency, which distributes that payment to your various creditors.

Learn More Through Free Nonprofit Credit Counseling

Free, non-profit credit counseling can help you decide whether debt consolidation will work for you. A certified credit counselor will work with you to identify the causes of your financial challenges, review possible solutions, establish personal financial goals, and recommend next steps. During the session, you can also review your credit report and pick up free educational material explaining how various debt relief and money management approaches work. You will be under no obligation to enroll in any debt relief program when the counseling session is over and you may be able to attend your credit counseling over the phone or online if you would prefer not to attend in-person.

To get a more thorough explanation of how debt consolidation works and what type of debt management resources would be best for your situation specifically, request a risk-free, no-obligation, free credit counseling session with an accredited non-profit credit counseling agency such as Money Management International,CESI orGreen Path. For help finding an accredited non-profit credit counseling agency in your area, feel free to contact Upsolve.

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How to Consolidate Your Debts in Montana

The rest of this article will lead you step-by-step through the process of pursuing debt consolidation in Montana. Each section will explain a little about the process and how it relates to constructing a customized debt consolidation that can potentially place you on a path to becoming debt-free.


Collect the Details About Your Debts 

In order to determine whether a Montana debt consolidation can provide you with enough relief to make a difference for you and your family, you will need to collect some details about your debts. The best way to collect most of these details is by accessing your current credit card bills and loan statements. If you have non-credit card debts like car loans, personal loans, student loans and court judgments you should collect details on them as well. The most important information you are looking for in your statements includes the balance owed, minimum payment, due date, interest rates, and other loan terms and conditions. Once you assess this information, you can make an informed decision about which debts you’d ideally like to consolidate. A good way to make sure you do not forget any outstanding accounts is to obtain a free copy of your annual credit report and refer to it as well.

Determine Your Monthly Income

Now that you have assembled the details of your debts, the next thing you will need to do involves evaluating your monthly income. Assessing your monthly income is important when determining whether debt consolidation is a good option for you because the key to successful debt consolidation is making set payments every single month, reliably. 

When working out your monthly income, use your two most recent paycheck stubs. Make sure the paychecks you are using to determine your monthly income are representative of typical pay periods. If your paycheck includes a lot of overtime, your income will be artificially inflated and you will be potentially setting yourself up for failure by creating a budget you can’t possibly follow.

Finally, avoid including unreliable or conditional resources when assessing your monthly income. Relying on income that is not consistently paid every month (or that is likely to be adjusted over the life of the debt consolidation loan) risks stretching your budget too thin. 

Put Together Your Budget

A monthly budget allows you to schedule and track the income and expenses you bring in and pay out on a regular basis. Constructing a solid budget will allow you to understand whether you can afford to make a debt consolidation payment on a reliable basis. Typically, your income will consist of earnings from work and other sources of revenue you receive regularly during the month. Your expenses will include all the purchases you make and bills you pay every month. Fixed costs expenditures include expenses you have that do not fluctuate more than $10 per month like rent, auto loans, student loans, and insurance. Variable costs include expenditures you pay that fluctuate from month to month like gas, groceries, and utilities. When you deduct your monthly expenditures from your monthly income, the remaining balance is known as your “disposable income.” The more disposable income you have, the more likely you are to be a successful candidate for debt consolidation because this figure indicates you have the resources available to make your payments reliably.

Do the Math

Now that you have put together a budget, you are very close to determining whether you are a good candidate for Montana debt consolidation. To get an approximation of what your debt consolidation loan payment may be, you’ll need to do a little math. First, take the total amount of debt you wish to consolidate, and divide that number by 60. Divide it by 60 because there are sixty months in a five-year debt consolidation. Compare this payment amount to your “disposable income.” Your disposable income should (ideally) exceed your projected debt consolidation payment. If it does, then Montana debt consolidation is an option you can probably take advantage of with confidence. If you do not have enough disposable income to cover the projected monthly debt consolidation payment, then you may need to explore other debt-relief alternatives besides debt consolidation.

Review Your Montana Debt Consolidation Options

Choosing to pursue debt consolidation in Montana is a long term commitment. You therefore want to select a debt consolidation approach that is a good match for your financial situation. In order to make the best choice, here are some things you should consider before committing to one option over another:

  • Do any of your credit cards offer credit card balance transfers? If so, this might be a good option if you are only looking to consolidate other credit cards and do not want to close them.

  • Do you have equity in your home? If so, refinancing your mortgage or taking out a home equity loan are both low-interest options that can consolidate both secured and unsecured debts.

  • Is your credit still good? If so, you may be able to obtain an unsecured personal loan. This is another good option for consolidating both unsecured and secured debts.

  • Are you already behind on your bills and struggling with a less than ideal credit score? If so, then a debt management plan may be your best option. A debt management plan combines unsecured eligible debts into one single monthly payment. You make this payment to a non-profit agency that then distributes it to your creditors.

Whatever option you choose, explore the advantages as well as the disadvantages of each with your credit counseling agency before committing to one over the other.

Apply for a Montana Debt Consolidation Loan

After you decide what type of debt consolidation is best for you, the second most important decision you will make involves selecting a lender to fund your debt consolidation loan (if you’re not consolidating your debt via a DMP). Because they are not banks, non-profit credit counseling agencies can’t fund debt consolidation loans. As a result, you will have to select a lender for your debt consolidation loan on your own. There are some things you can look out for to make it less likely that you will be taken advantage of.

  • Scrutinize direct mail and online offers carefully. The actual terms and conditions of these loans often contradict the advertised rates and terms.

  • Ask friends and family for recommendations and referrals. If you have friends or family that have consolidated their debts or taken out home loans, ask them to recommend a lender they trust.

  • Avoid pushy, aggressive or elusive sales representatives or agents. Debt consolidation is a serious commitment that you should not be rushed into.

  • Do not deal with any lenders that require you to pay them upfront. Reputable lenders will not ask to be paid until they have provided the service you are paying for.

Finally, make sure you understand all the benefits and features of a debt management plan. A debt management plan is a form of debt consolidation that does not require taking out a new loan, is available even if you have bad credit and utilizes the help and assistance of accredited non-profit credit counseling agencies in dealing with your unsecured creditors.

How to Stay Current with Payments after Consolidating your Debts in Montana 

When you have finalized your Montana debt consolidation plan, your ultimate goal from that point on is to stay current with your monthly payments. Committing to a Montana debt consolidation process is an admirable step towards becoming debt-free. But starting a debt consolidation plan and then getting behind on the plan can leave you in a worse situation than you were in before you took your initial steps. As a result, it is important to think creatively when planning ahead to stay current on your Montana debt consolidation:

  • Set up auto bill pay. Enrolling your debt consolidation loan into an automatic bill paying program is an excellent way to make sure you do not forget to make your payment every month.

  • Change your due date if necessary. If your loan payment is due on the same day of the month as other large expenses you pay, request that it be changed.

  • Make extra payments or pay extra when you can. Making extra payments or paying extra with each payment is a great way to pay off your debt consolidation early.

  • Reward yourself. Come up with ways to motivate yourself to stay current by creating and celebrating milestones like making three straight payments on time.

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Montana Debt Management Plan

A Montana debt management plan is intended to help you fully repay your unsecured debt by streamlining your payment process. To construct a debt management plan, you’ll need to work with a non-profit credit counseling agency. The agency will negotiate with your creditors on your behalf and may be able to get your creditors to lower the interest rate on your debts, waive over-the-limit and late payment fees and in some instances, re-age past due accounts. Because there are no credit score requirements, a debt management plan is a great debt consolidation alternative if you are unable to secure a Montana debt consolidation loan.

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Montana Debt Settlement

Montana debt settlement differs from debt consolidation in that debt settlement does not require you to repay your debts in full. Instead, you make a lump sum offer to your creditors, often through a third party debt settlement company, to settle the debt. Debt settlement can be risky because while you are waiting for the debt settlement company to convince your creditors to accept your terms for settlement, your credit score can become damaged and you remain vulnerable to legal action. Additionally, many debt settlement companies scam their clients. Therefore, it’s important to approach the debt settlement process with caution. 

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Montana Bankruptcy

Debt consolidation in Montana is an excellent financial tool for those who have the income to make regular debt consolidation payments. But Upsolve realizes that many people in a financial crisis do not know where their next paycheck is going to come from and cannot wait for their creditors to work with them to obtain debt relief. A Montana bankruptcy can put an end to creditor harassment and help you to become debt-free. Bankruptcy legally eliminates eligible debts, sometimes without requiring you to pay any of those eligible debts back in-part first. To learn more about bankruptcy and to determine whether it is right for you, contact Upsolve today.

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Upsolve is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that started in 2016. Our mission is to help low-income families who cannot afford lawyers file bankruptcy for free, using an online web app. Spun out of Harvard Law School, our team includes lawyers, engineers, and judges. We have world-class funders that include the U.S. government, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and leading foundations. It's one of the greatest civil rights injustices of our time that low-income families can’t access their basic rights when they can’t afford to pay for help. Combining direct services and advocacy, we’re fighting this injustice.

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