There’s a lot of consumer debt in the United States. Each individual and demographic has triumphs and struggles when it comes to paying debt. While older consumers have significantly reduced their net debt over the past few years, it has substantially increased for younger generations such as Millennials.

If you’re having trouble keeping up with your debt, don’t delay in seeking out solutions. Finding the debt management program you need can make a huge difference in helping you dig out of the debt doldrums.

Finding the Debt Management Program You Need

Debt management plans (DMPs) are one of the most popular and effective ways for consumers to reduce their debt or beat it altogether. If that sounds enticing, you’re not alone in that assessment. With the right DMP, you can go from struggling to pay your bills to be back on your feet.

As with all things in life, debt management plans and programs aren’t as simple as waving a magic wand and having your liabilities disappear. You’re still going to have to put in work and stay committed in order to successfully complete the debt management program.

On its most basic level, DMPs are a reorganization of how you’re repaying your current debts. Instead of sending payments to each of your creditors individually, you instead make one periodic payment to the agency that has created the DMP for you. This might be a credit counseling organization, or even a debt relief company.

Seek out various non-profit credit counseling services first. Be warned, though: Non-profit status doesn’t always mean it’s the right organization for you—or anyone for that matter. Whether you go with a credit counseling group or a debt relief company, it’s essential to find someone with many positive reviews and little negative feedback. For instance, Freedom Debt Relief has one of the best reputations of any debt relief company out there.

But what actually happens once you find the right provider for your debt management program? Typically, you’re not going to actually lower the balance of your debts with a debt management plan. Instead, you’re streamlining the process, while potentially extending the repayment period to make monthly contributions more feasible. While many people will greatly benefit from a debt management program, they’re not going to work for everyone. In many cases, you’ll have to seek a more substantial intervention in order to get out of debt. Fortunately, there are avenues for this.

How Are Debt Relief Programs Different from Debt Management Plans?

If a debt management plan isn’t enough for you to resolve what you owe, looking for more intensive strategies might be appropriate. This is where debt relief programs come into play. Finding a debt relief agency that offers both credit counseling and debt relief offerings, such as debt settlement, might be the right course of action for those who are deep in debt.

There are a few big differences between debt relief and debt management. One thing that’s the same between them, however, is the fact that you will no longer be paying your lenders, but instead send one direct payment to the debt relief company each month. This simplification of the repayment process alone can be massively helpful for those who are struggling to keep track of various lines of credit.

Beyond this, though, there are some pretty big differences between debt management and debt relief. When you opt for debt settlement, the debt relief company is going to negotiate what you owe with your lenders. To do this, you’ll stop making payments to your creditors, and instead send money to the debt relief company, which holds it in a dedicated account for you. These funds are then used to work out a lump sum payment—hopefully substantially lower than the amount you previously owed.

There are of course risks associated with not paying your bills, such as dealing with collections and taking a hit to your credit score. Furthermore, there’s no guarantee that debt relief will actually be successful for you. However, for some consumers, there may be no other alternative. Even bankruptcy is out of the question for many, as it costs a lot of money upfront to go through the process, which isn’t available to everyone.

Knowing how to find the right debt management program can be a saving grace for your finances. But it’s important to remember that this isn’t going to work for everyone. Being realistic with yourself will guide you to the right solution for your debt.