If you are struggling to keep up with high-interest credit card payments, paying off debt might feel like a pipe dream. The crippling feeling of being stuck in debt can stand in the way of reaching short and long-term goals. The good news is that becoming debt-free is possible.

If you are overwhelmed by credit card debt or other unsecured debt, a debt management plan (DMP) can help get you back on track. With a DMP, you can consolidate payments, lower interest rates and repay your debt faster.

The Federal Trade Commission recommends only working with approved credit counseling agencies.

Advantages of a debt management plan

You might find yourself in over your head with debt if you have so many debts that payments are late because you have a tough time juggling due dates, you only make the minimum payment on bills or if you are struggling to keep up with monthly payments.

The first step in establishing a DMP is a consultation with a certified credit counselor who will work on your behalf. A consultation can be done online, over the phone or in person. A counselor will review your financial situation and discuss your credit report, income and expenses and then tailor a payment plan that you can afford.

Next, your credit counselor will negotiate with creditors for a lower interest rate and monthly payments. Once an agreement is reached, you make monthly “deposits” with the credit counseling agency that will distribute creditor payments.

DMPs are designed to pay off the entire amount you owe within three to five years.

One of the best advantages of a DMP is the peace of mind that comes from following a program that can help you find freedom from debt.