When facing debt problems, dispel uncertainty to get a better solution.
We love certainty in our lives. That’s why we drive the same route to work each morning, set our alarm clocks for the same time, and eat a narrow range of familiar foods.
Certainty is comfortable, after all. It allows us to make decisions and know the outcome. That, in turn, allows us to focus our efforts accordingly.
When we’re uncertain, we get scared. What’s going to happen if I venture into the unknown, take an unfamiliar road or let the alarm clock go tomorrow?
The unknown makes us scared of not being in control.
So we take to the Internet, asking “what if” questions for hours on end. We ask friends, co-workers, and even total strangers for their opinions.
By the end of the question-and-answer session we end up more befuddled than ever before. So here’s how to solve the problem.
Get The Big Picture
Some of my work involves helping people through bankruptcy so they can get out of debt. If a client’s got student loan debt, I use other laws.
More often, I find myself answering questions that involve a client’s credit score or a particularly difficult creditor.
My job, then, involves helping my clients focus on the real problem rather than the symptoms.
If you’ve got $50,000 in overdue credit card debt, you’ve got a particular problem involving money going out and coming in.
But if you’re 6 months behind on your mortgage and under water on your home, your problem is slightly different because it involves one of impending homelessness rather than simply cash flow.
Figure out the problem first. Then you can move onto the next step.
Understand Your “Happy Ending”
Think about what you want to accomplish in solving your problem.
Do you want to be in a position to get rid of your credit card debts in six months, start contributing to your pension plan, and save enough for a downpayment on a new condo within a year? Perhaps a bankruptcy filing is the quick-and-easy way to accomplish that goal.
Are you looking to catch up on your mortgage? You can look to loan modification, refinancing, or even a bankruptcy to help there.
Have one or two credit card debts that you want to knock out so you can get on with your life? There are things you can do in that situation, too.
So long as you know where you want to go, you can move onto the third step.
Get Curious About Solutions
Here in Los Angeles, it seems as if everyone’s pushing their own solutions down your throat. There’s a sign for a mortgage modification place on every block, bankruptcy paralegals hawking their wares, and lawyers for every need.
If you know your problem, however, you need to know which solutions are inappropriate. Mortgage modification is of no use if you’ve got no problem paying the mortgage and have equity, for example. Credit repair doesn’t many sense if you’re behind on your bills.
Here’s where your friends and relatives become less useful.
You want to dissect the pros and cons of each solution to weigh them out. Know the consequences of each decision, being sure to talk with someone who knows what they’re talking about.
For example, if you’ve got a debt problem and want to learn about bankruptcy then you call me.
But if you want to talk about refinancing, I’m not the right person for you.
You know your problem.
You know what you want to achieve.
You know which solutions are available, and the consequences of each one.
You’ve got the tools you need, and you’ve done your homework.
You can sit around and ponder your belly-button for the next six months as things get worse (they seldom get better by inaction, after all) or you can pick a solution and run with it.
It’s time to trust your instincts.
Friends and family members all want you to choose their favored solution, and they’ve got strong opinions on why you should do as they say. But you’ve done the legwork. You know what you need to do.
Time to move.
The Road Gets Easier
You’ve chosen a path to getting out of debt based on research as well as your own needs. You know what’s going to happen, and how it’s going to play out.
Sure, there may be hard work ahead. If you’re filing for bankruptcy there are court documents and hearings to attend. For student loan issues you’ve got wind through administrative hassles.
That’s the sort of thing my clients turn to me to help out with – making the hard work a bit easier. Hopefully, your lawyer does the same for you.
But one thing’s for sure: if you follow this simple (not easy, but simple) recipe you’ll get over the fear and uncertainty that comes with looking for a solution to your problem.
Image courtesy of Mathieu Struck