What is Debt Management Plan: Definition, Examples, Problems & Strategies.

Debt Management

Having multiple debts can be very frustrating. It is sometimes challenging to track your debts and make payments on time. However, debts must be paid. So, if your debts are getting out of control and you need help managing them, consider enrolling in a debt management plan.

A debt management plan is designed to help individuals manage their unsecured debts. Find out more about a debt management plan, its pros and cons, its examples and problems, and tips on managing your debts. 

What is a Debt Management Plan?

A debt management plan is a strategic effort to eliminate unsecured debt such as credit cards and medical bills. It is a way to get your debt under control through financial planning and budgeting. The program educates you on how to manage your debt successfully. 

A debt management plan generally aims to pay off all the unsecured debts within three to five years, with four years being a typical time to complete the payoff. A debt management plan aims to use financial strategies to help you lower your debt. Nonprofit credit counseling organizations provide the plans. They use your income and expenses to create a budget with a fixed monthly payment suitable for your financial situation. 

What is the Purpose of a Debt Management Plan?

A debt management plan aims to get your debt under control through financial planning and budgeting to lower your current debt and move toward eliminating it. It is a plan prepared and implemented with the help of a consumer credit counselor.

What Are the Pros and Cons of a Debt Management Plan

There are multiple pros and cons a debt management plan can have, including the following:


  • Streamlined payments: Debt management plans can simplify payment. This is as a result of making one payment each month versus paying multiple creditors.
  • Save money: If your debt management plan includes interest rate reductions and fee waivers, that could help you save a decent amount.
  • Save time: Enrolling in a debt management program can also be a time-saver if you can repay your debt faster. Additionally, you can predict when you will clear your debts


  • Limited to certain types of debt: A debt management plan is generally meant for unsecured debts like credit cards. You usually can’t use debt management plans for car loans or other secured debts.
  • Creditors may disagree: A key part of your success with debt management hinges on your creditors’ agreement with it. If some of your creditors are on board but others aren’t, that could make paying back what you owe trickier.
  • Closing credit accounts: In most cases, you may be required to close one or more credit accounts to enroll in the DMP. This means you won’t be able to use those cards and may be prohibited from applying for new credit.

Debt Management Plan Example

An example of a debt management plan is :

  • Consolidating multiple credit card payments into a single payment, cutting interest rates, and providing a structured path to pay off the debt over 3 to 5 years.
  • Lowering interest rates and monthly payments for unsecured debts, such as credit cards and medical bills, with the help of a credit counseling agency.
  • Addressing other types of unsecured debt, such as utilities, rent, and cell phone services, through a DMP
  • Reducing the interest rate on credit cards to around 8% and making monthly payments affordable, allowing consumers to pay off debt in 3-5 years

What Are the Three Methods of Debt Management?

Debt management is a way to get your debt under control through financial planning and budgeting. It addresses unsecured debts such as credit cards and personal loans. There are three methods of debt management:

#1. DIY Debt Management

You can create a budget for yourself that allows you pay off your debts and maintain your financial stability. The debt snowball or debt avalanche methods are DIY versions of debt management.

The advantages of DIY debt management are that you can protect your credit rating by making timely monthly payments and paying in total. You can also create a realistic plan with milestones and a debt payoff date to motivate you during the repayment. However, you won’t have insight from a professional with more effective strategies to get out of debt faster, and creditors may not be open to negotiations.

#2. Debt Management Plan (DMP)

A DMP helps you pay all your unsecured obligations each month. A debt repayment plan won’t help you pay less or get out of debt faster, but it can simplify the payback process. A credit counseling agency negotiates a DMP with unsecured creditors. These creditors often cut interest rates or waive costs to help you. The credit counseling service splits your monthly DMP payments among your unsecured creditors.

DMPs make debt repayment easier and faster. However, during the program, you must give up your credit cards and cannot open new lines of credit. Debt management plan has pros and cons that should check when deciding on dent method to use.

#3. Debt Consolidation

This involves taking out a new loan to pay off multiple debts. The new loan will have a lower interest rate than the previous debts, which can reduce the amount of interest paid over time. Debt consolidation could be a viable option if you struggle to keep up with your minimum monthly payments and prefer a plan to help you pay less interest and get out of debt faster. 

The advantages of debt consolidation are that it can simplify the repayment process and reduce the amount of interest paid over time. However, it may require collateral, such as a home or car, if you don’t pay.

What Are the Five Golden Rules for Managing Debt?

Managing debt is a complex process that requires careful planning and discipline. The five golden rules for managing debt are as follows:

  • Create a budget and stick to it: This is the foundation of any debt management plan, as it allows you to see exactly how much money is coming in and going out each month. You can use budget calculators, repayment calculators, and financial management apps to help keep you on track. 
  • Choose the best debt management option for your situation: There are multiple options for handling debt, including debt snowball or debt avalanche methods, debt relief companies, and debt management plans (DMPs). Choose the one that best fits your situation and work with it.
  • Prioritize high-interest debt: If you have multiple debts, focus on paying off the ones with the highest interest rates first. This will save you money in the long run and help you get out of debt faster.
  • Avoid taking on new debt: While working on paying off your existing debt, do your best to avoid taking on new debt. This means avoiding unnecessary purchases, using credit cards sparingly, and avoiding new loans.
  • Seek help if you need it: If you’re struggling to manage your debt independently, don’t be afraid to seek help from a professional. It could be a credit counselor, a financial planner, or a debt relief company. 

Problems with the Debt Management Plan

Problems of the debt management plan (DMP) are:

  • DMPs are generally meant for unsecured debts like credit cards or personal loans and not for secured debts like car loans or student loans.
  • The success of a DMP hinges on the agreement of your creditors. If some creditors agree and others don’t, paying back your debts could be more difficult.
  • When enrolling in a DMP, you may have to close one or more accounts, preventing you from applying for new credit. The increased credit consumption can lower your credit score.
  • DMPs only work when debtors commit to seeing them through. It could be a successful effort if they address the underlying problems with overspending or take the plan seriously.
  • Debt management firms and credit counseling agencies may impose monthly and DMP startup or registration fees. These items may be included in your monthly DMP payment but raise the plan’s cost.
  • There are multiple pros and cons of debt management plan, so weigh you options before making a decision

What Happens If I Stop Paying My Debt Management Plan?

If you stop paying your debt management plan, you will be removed from the program, and your interest rates will revert to their previous levels. A debt management plan aims to eliminate a consumer’s debt, which can only work if you make consistent monthly payments. Some plans will drop you after you miss a single payment, while others may be generous enough to allow up to three missed payments.

If you stop paying or leave a debt management plan, your contract with the agency ends, and you will no longer pay the monthly charge. Your credit card companies will still expect to get a monthly payment from you, and if you don’t pay or are late with your payments, you will likely also incur late fees.

In other words, the interest rate on your debt returns to its previous level, late fees are reinstituted, and your monthly payment increases. Therefore, before you stop making payments, call your credit counselor and tell them about it. The counselor may give you other options to deal with the situation.

What Happens When You Enter a Debt Management Plan?

Once approved, a debt management plan simplifies the payment process for consumers who use multiple credit cards with different deadlines and minimum payments to remember each month. One payment to one source is how a debt management plan makes managing your money easier.

A debt management plan can cut your interest rates in half and give you a structured path to pay off your debt over three to five years. However, enrolling in a debt management plan may initially drop your credit score as accounts are closed, and you have less available credit.

The Best Debt Management Plans

The best debt management companies are nonprofit organizations with relatively low and transparent fees. They also have a long history of high customer satisfaction and accreditation from an industry watchdog like the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC).

What is the Best Way to Manage Debt?

Managing debt can be tasking, but there are several approaches you can take to pay off your debts. However, the best method for you will depend on your financial situation and goals. But there are some options you can consider:

  • Debt snowball: This strategy involves paying off your smallest debts first and then moving on to larger ones. It can be motivating to see progress quickly, but it may not be the most cost-effective approach if your larger debts have higher interest rates.
  • Debt avalanche: This strategy first involves paying off debts with the highest interest rates. While it may take longer to see progress, it can save you money in the long run.
  • Debt consolidation involves combining all your debts into one loan with a lower interest rate. This can simplify your payments and save you money on interest, but it’s essential to consider any fees associated with the loan.
  • Budgeting: Creating a budget can help you find extra money for your debts. Several budgeting systems allow you to track your expenses,  so find one that works best. 
  • Debt relief: If you’ve tried other methods and are still struggling with debt, debt relief may be an option. It involves working with a credit counseling agency to negotiate lower payments or filing for bankruptcy.

What Are the Three Biggest Strategies for Paying Down Debt?

The best strategy for paying down debt depends on your financial situation and goals. Therefore, research different approaches to find a tactic that will work best for you. Once you start, it’s important to establish a budget and an emergency savings account to help ensure your debt doesn’t grow out of control once again. 

There are three main strategies for paying down debt: the debt snowball method, the debt avalanche method, and debt consolidation. The debt snowball method involves paying off debts from smallest to largest balance, while the debt avalanche method involves paying off debts with the highest interest rates first. Then, debt consolidation involves combining multiple debts into one loan with a lower interest rate.

What is a Simple Definition of a Debt Management Plan?

Nonprofit credit counseling organizations provide a debt management plan to support people struggling with unsecured debts like credit cards and personal loans. It is not a loan but rather a repayment plan that simplifies the repayment process and shortens the time it takes to get out of debt.


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