I have about $15,000 in credit card debt plus a car payment. Can I get a low percentage rate loan to pay everything off and start fresh? Also, I heard if you pay off your credit cards in a lump sum, you can sometimes get the total amount due substantially reduced. I would like more information about this. – David


There are a lot of different ways to attack your debt, but we think step number one should be taking a fresh look at your budget. Unless you’re living within your means and spending less than you earn no matter what steps you take, you may ultimately fail and end up in a financial bind again. Beyond that, there are consolidation loans which could allow you to package all your loans in a single installment loan at a set interest rate with an end date. While this may or may not provide a lower overall interest rate, it does provide a beginning and an end to your debt issues. Counselors associated with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling ( can assist you in developing a budget and a comprehensive plan to address your debt issues. As far as paying less than what you owe, that’s called debt settlement. That approach may make you feel better in the short run, but will have a very negative impact on your credit score. In our minds, that’s very hard to get excited about.