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Guest Post by: Katherine Pilnick
Post-traumatic stress disorder is an illness no one wants to encounter. Left untreated, it can plague sufferers for a lifetime. Even when PTSD sufferers reach out for the help they need, it can be a tedious and stressful road to recovery. Combining the illness with another source of stress, like overwhelming debt, makes the situation that much worse.
If you find yourself with PTSD and debt, remember that your mental health should always come first. The best thing to do is to determine a strategy to get rid of the debt fast so you can focus on your mental recovery. For different people, this will mean different things. Debt settlement, debt consolidation and bankruptcy are all viable options. Deciding among them depends primarily on how much debt you have and what types of debt you have, as well as what aspect of the debt is causing you stress.
Debt Consolidation and Settlement
Debt consolidation is the simplest strategy. It reduces the number of bills you have to pay each month by combining all or several of your debts. It typically also reduces the amount you pay in interest and fees, and it does not harm your credit score. This may be right for you if your debt-related stress comes from too much paperwork rather than the level of debt.
For most people struggling with their finances, settling their debts is the most advantageous option. Unlike consolidation, it actually reduces the amount of money you owe, getting you out of debt for less. It also does significantly less damage to most people’s credit reports than would bankruptcy. You should consider debt settlement if the sheer amount of your debt causes you stress. It works best for people who have high amounts of unsecured debt such as credit card debt.
Why You Should Consider Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy is also a valid option. Under normal circumstances, bankruptcy is considered a last resort. While it can completely erase all or most of your debt, it can also harm your credit history for up to a decade: bad news for anyone thinking about buying a home or making another major financial decision.
However, having PTSD is a unique scenario, one in which you may want to consider bankruptcy just as seriously as you consider any other debt reduction strategy. This is because bankruptcy won’t have the immediate obligation that settlement and consolidation require.
When you choose either consolidation or settlement, you’re still responsible for repaying at least some of your debt. This means making a commitment to stick to a budget, save money and pay bills each month for several months or years. Such continual stress and worrying can detract from your treatment and the attention you provide your own mental well-being.
If you opt for bankruptcy, on the other hand, you’ll be able to take care of all your debt in one fell swoop. It can allow you to devote more time and energy to your nonfinancial needs like PTSD treatment, while giving you a fresh start with your money.
Remember that each of these options will only work for the proper candidates. If you’re unsure of which step to take next, ask for help. Speak with a debt counselor for a second opinion so you can put debt behind you and move forward with less stress and a healthier outlook.
About the author: Katherine Pilnick writes and blogs about personal financial well-being and issues that influence it for Debt.org, America’s Debt Help Organization.
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