The problem with debt is that it is so easy to get into and so difficult to get out of. To put it in simple terms, things are stacked in the favor of your creditors, and every step of the process is designed to separate you from as much of your money as possible. It's not your fault if you got in over your head, but the good news is that you can get out of debt. One of the first things people think of is a debt consolidation loan, but getting a loan isn't the only way to consolidate what you owe. Let's take a look at some of the options that may be available to you.
So, what is debt consolidation? It is nothing more than taking several different loans and debts and combining them into a single payment. The idea being that it is easier to manage, and that the amount you pay back when all is said and done will be lower than if you kept all of the debts separate. You can consolidate many different things such as credit card balances, personal loans, car payments, and other debts you have. One option is to get a large loan that encompasses the total balance of what you owe, pay off all of your various creditors, then continue paying on the one large loan you just took out. Another option is to keep all of your loans open, but work through a credit counseling agency that will take a single payment and distribute it to each of your creditors, often on better terms than you currently have.
If you choose to go the route of combining all of your debts into one new loan, you may wish to consider a secured loan first. This will usually give you a much better rate because the loan is secured with some form of collateral. Doing it this way removes much of the risk from the lender, and they pass along this decreased risk in the form of lower rates to the borrower. Those who own a home may be able to get a home equity loan for one of the best debt consolidation options.
Perhaps you don't own a home, or don't have anything with which to secure a loan. In that case, you may prefer to work with a credit counseling agency. While they normally don't actually consolidate your debt, you will still make a single payment, so from your point of view it will seem as though your debt is consolidated. They will negotiate with each of your creditors to give you better repayment terms. This is a good way to go as it usually doesn't impact your credit score all that much, if at all.
Finally, if you have mostly credit card debt, the best debt consolidation option for you may be to transfer high interest balances to lower rate cards. But be careful! You have to read all of the small print to see if this will be a good deal. There may be hidden fees for each transfer, and the low rate may only last for a few months. Even so, it may still work out to be a better deal. Just don't assume one way or the other.