Accumulating debt is very easy nowadays, which makes debt consolidation that much more important to the everyday consumer. The basic idea behind debt consolidation is that a consumer takes out one loan in order to help them pay off a number of other loans. The advantages of consolidating debt include a lower interest rate that is often secured, and the simplicity of dealing with just one loan instead of several.
A first word of warning is to steer clear of debt consolidation companies. These are the ones that run commercials promising debt help despite your poor credit. They will charge application and handling fees that other sources of help would not charge, and will oftentimes charge up to 23% in interest, which would be reflected negatively in your credit rating.
Credit cards often charge high rates of interest, which makes them a popular candidate for debt consolidation. In this case the process is relatively simple. If you hold several credit cards with high rates of interest, you can simply transfer their balances to a single credit card with a lower interest rate. Many times you will be able to find credit cards offering a low introductory APR, and oftentimes this introductory rate will actually be 0% for the first six months.
If you are accumulating credit card debt because you are constantly spending more than your actual income, then consolidation will not help in the long run since your credit card balances will inevitably surmount again. As unappealing as it is, you may have to force yourself to look long and hard at yourself in the mirror in order to see that you may have to change your lifestyle and spending habits in order to fully take advantage of debt consolidation. Canceling your newly-zeroed credit cards is a good place to start.
If you are a homeowner then you should look into obtaining a home equity loan. In this case your home will act as collateral. So long as your loan is not more than the value of your house the interest on the loan will be tax deductible. Remember that if you default on this loan, it is very possible that you will lose your home.
In other cases of debt, you can find help at your local bank or credit union in the form of a secured or unsecured loan. The difference between the two is that a secured loan requires you to put up property as collateral, while an unsecured loan does not require any collateral. Needless to say, it will be more difficult to qualify for an unsecured loan.