Where to get free help to manage debt in 2018 | finder.com

Where to get free help to manage debt

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While creating debt is remarkably easy, clawing your way out can prove far more difficult.

Being in debt isn’t necessarily a sign of bad financial management, many Americans have loans for their education, homes or cars. However, debt can be a slippery slope and before you know it you can be in a sticky situation.

Before reaching out to expert financial or legal providers, there are a number of associations providing free financial management advice for Americans crippled by debt.

First, how does debt management work?

Managing debt starts with facing the reality of your financial situation. Besides curbing unnecessary expenses and borrowing, it also involves revising your budget so you can meet your financial obligations.

From personal finance counseling to dispute resolution and setting up realistic repayment plans, getting the help you need doesn’t have to cost a thing.

Freeing yourself from debt – for free

Good advice for dealing with debt doesn’t have to be expensive; it could be free when you ask the right people. Here are a few resources that offer free assistance:

  • National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC)

The nonprofit foundation founded in 1951 offers several different services for debt relief and you can take advantage of a handful of tools for free:

  • NFCC offers a free first-time free consultation to educate you on how to get your finances back under control.
  • Learn about money management when it comes to credit or buying a house in its 101 videos.
  • Use the online budget planner combined with one of the budget calculators to craft and track a realistic budget.

If you’re interested in getting help, schedule an appointment with NFCC on its website or call and speak to a representative at 1-800-388-2227.

  • Credit.org

Credit.org, a nonprofit website, has been educating Americans on debt management since 1974. They offer online education as well as personal finance coaching. It can offer:

  • Credit counseling over the phone or in person is free.
  • A handful of content that can give you the knowledge to get your finances back on track.
  • Free webinars and classes

Credit.org stresses the importance of taking that critical first step to eliminating debt. Call at 1-800-431-8157 to speak to representative or head over to the website.

Are these services really free?

Yes — to an extent. Both NFCC and Credit.org are nonprofits whose aims are to improve the financial lives of those in need of assistance. While both offer free online educational tools and resources, if you want to meet with a credit counselor you may have to pay a charge. Some nonprofits offer in-person classes or schedule one-on-one sessions for free while others may offer these services at a small charge.

Debt relief options based on income and credit score

Debt-free for a fee

While you can get good advice for free, certain companies offer similar — but more comprehensive — services for a fee. You could even benefit from a free consultation to get a better idea of how to start managing your debt with a reputable debt relief company.

Here are two top debt solution specialists that offer free consultations for Americans struggling with debt:

National Debt Relief. This accredited company offers debt settlement services with direct negotiations. It typically charges between 18% and 25% of your enrolled debt, but you could stand to save more if you’re consolidating a large amount. You must have at least $7,500 in debt to qualify.

Read our review of National Debt Relief

Freedom Debt Relief. This accredited company works to relieve you of unmanageable debt by enrolling you in a debt settlement program. You’ll pay a monthly fee for the service and could save between 15% and 35% depending on the debt enrolled. You must have at least $15,000 in unsecured debt and live in an eligible state to qualify.

Read our review of Freedom Debt Relief

Compare top debt relief providers

Rates last updated August 17th, 2018
Unfortunately, none of the short term loan providers currently offer loans in your state. Learn more about short term loans in your state to find an alternative.
Name Product Product Description Costs Requirements
Freedom Debt Relief is a debt settlement company that works to help people with unmanageable, unsecured debt get back on their feet.
Monthly payment based on enrolled debt, no upfront fees
Must have at least $15,000 in unsecured debt and live in a serviced state.
Get back on your feet with a top-rated debt relief company that works with multiple types of debt.
18–25% of total enrolled debt
Must have a legitimate financial hardship which is preventing the ability to pay creditors and a minimum of $7,500 in debt.
This debt settlement alternative can help you find a path to financial freedom.
Fees regulated by client's state of residence, can range from
$0 to $69 with an average monthly fee of $35. No upfront or contingency fees.
Debt must not be payday loans or secured loans.
This company claims to significantly reduce your consumer and tax debt.
Typically 20% of enrolled debt
Must have verifiable income and more than $10,000 in unsecured debt or tax debt — excluding payday loans.
This A+ BBB-rated service offers free consultations to lower your monthly payments help you get out of debt faster.
Charges and fees vary by the company you're ultimately connected with
Must be at least 18 years old and a legal US resident; additional terms may apply based on services and products used.

Compare up to 4 providers

Should I use a free or paid service?

Consider a free service if…

  • You’re on top of your payments and just want a little help to speed up the process
  • You want to learn more about credit options and building credit but aren’t ready for a full debt settlement plan
  • You’d like to build a personal relationship with someone interested in your overall financial wellbeing

Consider a paid service if…

  • You have over $10,000 in debt from various sources and want to consolidate them quickly
  • You’ve experienced financial hardship and are having trouble getting back on track on your own
  • You want someone to negotiate with creditors on your behalf to lower your balances

Bottom line

Everyone can fall into debt, but not everyone can afford financial advisors and private companies to help them get out of it. With a little research, Americans in debt can benefit from free, accessible and completely legitimate expert advice to properly manage financial situations. Paid services like debt relief companies are available for those who want to get out of debt more quickly and have their balances negotiated by a professional.

Frequently asked questions

Image: Shutterstock

Kyle Morgan

Kyle Morgan is a writer and editor for finder.com who has worked for the USA Today network and Relix magazine, among other publications. He can be found writing about everything from the latest car loan stats to tips on saving money when traveling overseas. He lives in Asbury Park, where he loves exploring new places and sipping on hoppy beer. Oh, and he doesn't discriminate against buffalo wings — grilled or fried are just fine.

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