It’s Your Money Column – Handling Debt When You Lose Your Job

Reduced income from job loss is challenging when you have loan payments due. Laurel Kubin at the Larimer County Extension Office uses a software program, PowerPay, to help individuals decide how to best handle loan payments. PowerPay, which was created by Cooperative Extension professionals at Utah State University, is a computer program that shows the impact of making "power payments" on consumer debts. In just a few minutes, a consumer can compare several ways of trimming credit costs.

Initially, PowerPay calculates the repayment time and interest costs if payments are made at current levels. It is shocking to most consumers to see the interest costs and length of time it takes to repay debts, especially if they’re making only the minimum required payments. People using PowerPay can explore possible savings from consolidating some or all the debts. PowerPay is a powerful tool to help people make decisions about trimming their debt repayments. Contact Kubin at 498-6000 for more information on the program.

Another source of debt repayment help is the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Northern Colorado. CCCS members suggest a number of steps people can initiate right away to deal with debt. "Contact your creditors with a revised payment proposal. Take the offensive. Call your lenders before they call you." When you call a creditor, have the following information ready: account number, reasons why you would like to renegotiate your payment and how much you propose to pay until you get back on your feet.

CCCS says, "If your payments have always been on time, don’t be surprised if they refuse to negotiate with you. Unfortunately, your creditor may not believe you until your circumstances force you to make a reduced or late payment. Keep those lines of communication open. Be sure and keep a record of all of your calls and correspondence with your creditors. This will help you keep track of what your creditor has agreed to and protect you if your creditor forgets your previous conversations."

The Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Northern Colorado and Southeast Wyoming offers financial and housing counseling. You can reach them at 229-0695.

Don’t ignore bills. You don’t have to handle this alone. Seek help from a source that can help you determine what to do next.