Bill “No Pay” Fay has lived a meager financial existence his entire life. He started writing/bragging about it seven years ago, helping birth Debt.org into existence as the site’s original “Frugal Man.” Prior to that, he spent more than 30 years covering college and professional sports, which are the fantasy worlds of finance. His work has been published by the Associated Press, New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Sports Illustrated and Sporting News, among others. His interest in sports has waned some, but his interest in never reaching for his wallet is as passionate as ever. Bill can be reached at bfay@debt.org.
While the Internet can be a wonderful thing it is also the home of some real scoundrels. As an example of this there was until just a few years ago a number of very dishonest debt settlement companies online. They made grandiose promises, collected big upfront fees, closed up without providing any services and then reopened a few months later under different names. While the Federal Trade Commission cracked down on many of these fly-by-night operations there are some still lurking out there.

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You’ll also need to maintain your bank account if you’re older than 22. If more than a year passes without any activity in the account and if your balance is less than $100, you’ll pay a $3 quarterly inactivity fee. So, you can see, going with a credit union may boost your odds of approval if you have a low credit score, but it’s certainly not without a great deal of work compared to a regular online lender.
Next, estimate your monthly spending habits for other expenses such as gas, groceries and entertainment. Create a limit, based on your income, of what you can spend in each of the different categories of expenses. For example, if you tend to spend $400 a month on groceries, try to stick to $300 a month on groceries by making changes like buying generic brands, using coupons, and resisting impulse purchases.
For most respondents, a debt consolidation loan was a good choice. Twenty-eight percent were able to lower monthly payments using their debt consolidation loan, 27 percent lowered or eliminated debt and 9 percent improved their credit score. But debt consolidation loans weren’t a good choice for all respondents, as 9 percent accrued more debt, 5 percent paid more interest overall and 2 percent lost their collateral.
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