Thursday, April 15, 2021

What to Do When You Have Debt You Can’t Afford to Pay Off

empty wallet pay debt

Debt can be a scary thing, and many people don’t know how to handle it. Sometimes, debt is actually a necessity; you’ll usually have to take out loans to pay for college, a house, or a car. However, sometimes, people go into debt in a much more destructive manner.

Americans started 2020 with over $1 trillion of credit card debt. And we all know how things have gotten since then.

Credit cards tend to be one of the most difficult types of debt to pay off. If you’ve found that your income just isn’t enough to pay off your debt, you may be panicking. After all, plenty of people go bankrupt every year. What if you end up being one of them?

Before you panic too much, recognize that many people who find themselves in this position can turn things around. Here are some easy ways to try and put your debt in the past.

Try Finding a New Credit Card

If you’re carrying a lot of debt on a credit card, you may be paying a lot of interest on that debt. For example, you may have only been approved for a credit card at a high APR in the past, locking you into a high rate. That interest rate could be what’s holding you down. A balance transfer card could help you move to a much lower interest rate for a set period.

If you’ve been routinely making payments, your credit score may have gone up since you originally applied for your credit card, which means you’ll probably be able to get a better interest rate with a new card. Many cards even have a promotional offer for 0% interest on balance transfers when you first open an account, for a period of 6-18 months. Gaining approval could be easier than you think.

Just remember to note the terms of your new card. Introductory offers may charge retroactive interest if your balance is not at $0 by the end of the offer, so it’s best to have a payment plan in place.

Find a Settlement Solution

In a surprising amount of cases, you can just talk to the companies you’re indebted to and negotiate a better payment plan. After all, these companies would rather you make a partial payment and get some investment back, as opposed to having to collect your debt in other ways. If that doesn’t work, consider reaching out to a debt settlement company.

You’ll start by paying money into an account that the debt settlement company holds on your behalf. Once a sizable sum has built up (usually after 24-36 months), the company will negotiate directly with your creditors to get your debts paid off at far less than what you owe. This option can be extremely beneficial for people who have a large amount of debt and no other way to settle it.

Do keep in mind that, no matter who you choose to help you deal with your debt, scams do exist. When you’re having a hard time with your finances, unsavory companies may find out and start calling or emailing you. It’s easy to be taken in by these scams, especially if you’re desperate to fix your finances. These companies often sound incredibly genuine, and you might not recognize the scam until it’s too late.

Make sure you’re dealing with a legit company before agreeing to anything. If a company contacts you with some sort of debt relief offer, be sure to get a few contact numbers and then run them through a reverse phone lookup to make sure they’re legitimate.

Start a Side Hustle

When all else fails, the one thing that can help you pay your debt off quicker is to get more money coming in. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to find a second full-time job. In today’s gig economy, you can work as much or as often as you like in a part-time, seasonal, or freelance capacity. Just as much as you need to make ends meet, and maybe even get ahead.

The more traditional route would be to find work in retail or hospitality. Such jobs are usually part-time and tend to be flexible in terms of scheduling. Or you can try making some extra money working from home. In your spare time, you can sell goods (crafts, gently used items, etc.) or offer services online. Write blog posts, edit resumes, or assist small businesses with their website designs. Whatever your experience may be, you can probably find something out there to match your talents.


Being in debt is a scary thing, especially if you have friends or family who’ve had to declare bankruptcy or had assets taken away because of it. However, debt doesn’t have to be a financial death sentence. Instead of worrying about what you’re going to do with your debt, make strong, genuine movements toward lessening the amount of debt you owe. You may be surprised at how easy it can be.

For more information on how to be smart with your finances–plus other topics about relationships, safety and more–be sure to check out the PeopleFinders blog.

Photo Credit: yingzaast –

PeopleFinders was launched in 1999 to give people easy access to public records data. The PeopleFinders mission is to find, organize and make information accessible - empowering people with meaningful answers.

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