I currently have $34,411 in credit card debt, with most cards being close to the limit. In addition, I have $23,422 in an auto loan. My gross pay per month is $5772 and my net pay per month is $3259.
My living expenses (including rent and car payment) are about $2300 a month. My monthly payments for my credit cards total a little under $800 a month. So, I’m looking at about $150 extra income a month.
My payments are on time and accounts current. I have already paired down to the bare minimum when it comes to personal finances–don’t have a home phone, just got rid of cable and internet, etc.
There is a possibility that once September arrives, I will be able to find part-time work to provide a little additional money each month ($200 or more).
Should I consider becoming part of a Debt Management Program (such as CCCS) or should I just try to dig out on my own? Should I consider Chapter 13 instead of a DMP? Thanks!
Thank you so much for asking me for help and advice.
The most critical component here is one you did not mention. How much are you able to save each month and also save for retirement?
Digging out of debt without saving for both at the same time is financial suicide. Accidents and unexpected financial surprises happen and without the emergency fund those surprises will land back on credit and erode progress you make.
Without saving for retirement now it can cost you a million dollars or more later when you need it most.
Please let me know what your current saving strategy is and while you are at it, use the calculator below to better understand the long term impact of not saving for retirement while you are getting out of debt.
Debt Repayment Calculator
This calculator demonstrates the future retirement financial loss you may experience when electing to repay your debt with an extended repayment program offered by creditors, credit counseling or debt settlement, rather than intervene on your debt with solutions like bankruptcy which terminate the debt quickly and allow you to resume saving again for retirement.
The calculator solves two problems.
Cost of Payment Plan in Retirement Dollars: This is the value of the retirement funds that you could have invested rather than repay your debt through an extended repayment program.
Future Lost Retirement Value: This is the amount you will lose in retirement from entering into a repayment plan to deal with your debt.
If you want to just see the amount lost from the payment plan, leave the “Monthly Payment After Payment Plan” box at 0.
Here is an example:
Current Age: 25
Monthly Payment: 300
Monthly Payment After Payment Plan: 0
Length of Payment Plan: 5
Rate of Return: 10
Estimated Retirement Age: 70
Cost of Payment Plan in Retirement Dollars = $23,231.12
Retirement Cost of Payment Plan = $1,247,526.55
What This All Means
If you elected to pursue some other solution, like bankruptcy, to discharge your debt quickly, you would not make monthly payments into an extended repayment plan. Those funds could instead be used to save towards retirement.
In this example, if our 25 year old debtor decided to enter into a credit counseling or debt settlement program they would repay their debt but that plan would cost them $23,231.12 in retirement funds that would be worth $1,247,526.55 when they eventually retired.
Current Age: Enter your current age.
Monthly Payment: Enter monthly payment of debt plan.
Monthly Payment After Payment Plan: Enter any payment you expect to make on a monthly basis into your retirement plan after you get out of debt. Leave this as 0 if you just want to see the future cost of lost retirement from a repayment plan.
Length of Payment Plan: Enter the number of years the repayment plan will take.
Rate of Return: Enter the rate of return you anticipate your retirement plan to have. Keep in mind that a good stock index mutual fund can return 10% or more.
Estimated Retirement Age Age: The age you anticipate retiring at.
And if you don’t think worrying about saving for retirement is important, please read The Saddest Avoidable Mistake People Make When Getting Out of Debt.
Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.