I had read a question a while ago that asked if anyone had tried many of the debt reduction services that are sold via radio, tv and online.

Over the years I find that most gurus end up advocating the following debt reduction steps:

1. Stop using credit cards
2. Write down your debt, what you owe and what you bring in

3. Live below your means

4. Sell stuff to make extra money and help pay down debt

5. Get a second job if you have run out of things to sell

6. Save money for emergencies

The thing about this debt reduction plan is that it is provided out there in the library (in the 332.0 section) or online for free. Not only that, to get out of debt and move into a wealthier life is mostly about common sense and turning what we already know into action.

One thing I don’t like about debt reduction seminars are that what they sell for 80-300 dollars can be learned for free over time; the same amount of time you would put into reading the programs you purchased. It isn’t about some quick-fix pill, but about your own drive to get debt paid off. Inspiration is out there if you are lacking, there are radio and tv shows by Dave Ramsey, Suze Orman and Clark Howard.

I ordered John Cummuta’s Transforming Debt into Wealth free promo that I heard on the radio and this is my personal experience.

First I was a bit disgusted that when I called to get the free promo I was grilled about how much debt I had, how soon I wanted to pay debt off and so on. All I wanted was the free promo. The reason they ask you questions is to get you to buy the system straight up because, as I learned later, the promo CD is simply a repeat of what is said in the advertising material that comes along with it and on the radio.

Again, you can save your money and borrow his books at the library in the personal finance section (332.xx). Even the items that I could buy through this promotion were available at the library for free when I looked it up. So save that money and apply it toward your debt.

One of the inserts gave teasers for items you will learn through his system and I have put my own 2¢ in and you can have this debt reduction information for free.

How to save thousands of dollars when you buy insurance - First, not everyone is going to save thousands, but it does add up. The main way to save money on your insurance is to call around or check online sites like insurance.com. You would want to do this every 6-12 months to make sure you are getting the best deal and sometimes, you can also mention that some other insurance company is offering a lower amount and find out if they will beat it - also find out if they bundle services to get discounts.

How to stop car dealers from picking your pocket - This is about picking out a car and getting as close to the book price as possible. The best way to stay out of debt is to buy a car after you have saved for it, one that is second-hand and preferably has one owner. I would also suggest that you get your loan approved first with a bank or credit union and then find the car. But there are many other support networks through Bankrate, American Consumer News, eHow and MSN Money.

How to calculate exactly when you will be completely out of debt - This is the art of a debt snowball, in which you take one debt and pay it off, then roll that payment into the next one. There is a handy Snowball calculator that allows you to figure this out. You can pay off either the smaller debt first or the the one with the highest interest.

Specific ways to cut daily shopping expenses without sacrificing - The many ways to cut back are out there and the information is free. Basically, plan ahead and don’t impulse buy. Reheat your left-overs. Cut down on the amount of food you eat and when possible, grow it yourself.

Why mortgage interest deductibles are the ‘tax shelter’ lie - This goes along the idea that if you owe anyone (bank included) then they own you. It is about whether the tax deduction for a house payment has a value that is better than holding onto the debt of the house. There are two different viewpoints on this: Free Money Matters vs. Becoming and Staying Debt Free

As you can see by just a few of the teasers above, there is a flood of information online (not counting the library) that is free and doesn’t require that you plunk down any money to learn all it takes is a desire and time to learn and understand. If you want more to read online, Mint has a great list of 30 free ebooks on personal finance.


  1. Clair of Frugal Living Freedom // Monday, April 27, 2009 4:43:00 PM  

    It's an interesting phenomenon, the whole idea of paying for something. Many of us have come to believe that "we get what we pay for" and sometimes that's true, but a lot of times it isn't. Many times we "over buy" a product or service, with this idea of getting a "Cadillac" when a "Ford" would have done just fine. The more expensive version of something isn't necessarily the better version for us.

    You're right, whatever you need to know about debt reduction and staying out of trouble is available at no cost. This is also true for being debt free and most investments.

    I think the overriding thought on paying for debt reduction help is that it must be worth something because they are charging for it. I've run into this on another site that I write.

    On this other site, I offer free web pages for small businesses to have a nice profile that includes photos and a business card. I do all the writing and I even take the photos. It takes hours to write and put a nice profile together, but I charge nothing for it. Many ignore my offer. I think I'd get more takers if I charged $75 for the service.

    So, there will always be people that need to pay for something that shouldn't cost any money in the first place. They reason is...well, it's most likely the same reason they have money problems to begin with.


  2. Dawn C // Monday, April 27, 2009 5:26:00 PM  

    @Clair of Frugal Living Freedom
    I like the last comment you left, that speaks quite loud -
    "So, there will always be people that need to pay for something that shouldn't cost any money in the first place. They reason is...well, it's most likely the same reason they have money problems to begin with."

  3. Lawrence @ CRB // Friday, October 30, 2009 1:42:00 AM  

    I've been able to cut out a lot of the fluff and it's helped me tremendously.

  4. Anonymous // Tuesday, February 09, 2010 7:19:00 PM  

    This is awesome, it dispelled some opposition I had seen.