If you live in Arizona, you can’t help but notice the home construction; you live in the sixth fastest-growing state in America.

Just over 260,000 people a year moved to Arizona in the five-year period from 2014-2018, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Most of them came from California (62,086) with Washington (15,313) and Texas (15,251) next.

But moving somewhere and thriving there can be two different stories. For all its natural attractions and ambiance, the Grand Canyon State has its economic challenges. While it’s cost of living is close to the national average, Arizona has the nation’s eighth highest poverty rate and eighth lowest personal income.

That, of course, can be a formula for debt. The average debt for Arizona’s 3.8 million adults in 2019 was $54,290, according to the New York Federal Reserve.

Debt Relief Options for Arizona Residents

For those who fall into the debt trap, InCharge Debt Solutions is a nonprofit debt counseling services that provides assistance in Arizona.

Even a bad credit score won’t disqualify you from a debt management program that works with creditors to consolidate your debt, reduce the interest rate on your credit cards and create a monthly payment plan that you can afford.

InCharge administers the program, taking your payment each month and distributing it in agreed upon amounts each month to your creditors. Applicants can apply online or over the phone.

If debt management doesn’t solve your problem, InCharge’s credit counselors will discuss other options, including:

  • Debt settlement This plan can provide support for people who are battling to reach minimum monthly payments, those who have fallen behind on their bills, or those who have been forced to use credit cards or loans to take care of personal or business expenses. With a debt settlement plan, a company will agree to accept a payment that is less than what is owed on your debt. However, this is a risky option that will do damage to your credit score.
  • Debt consolidation loans – This is an option for those with a very good credit score. That good credit score allows you to receive a loan to pay off your credit card debt with lower monthly payments and lower interest rates. Keep in mind, though, that you’ll still have the consolidation loan to pay off. However, if your credit score is low, you could be hit hard with steep interest rates and this could be an unappealing option over the long haul.
  • Bankruptcy – This option will eliminate all of your credit card debt, but your credit score will take a major hit for the next 7-10 years. That will most likely make it very difficult to get a home or car loan over that timeframe if you are seeking an upgrade on either in the near future.
  • Do it yourself plans – You can always consider a DIY debt management program with a debt management template. These are set up by InCharge and allow you to pick the plan that best suits your economic distress and your personal finances.

Arizona Debt Resources

For homeowners affected by the coronavirus who struggle to make mortgage payments, hardship programs are available, according to the Arizona Department of Housing. The Federal Housing Finance Agency advises such homeowners to contact their mortgage servicers as soon as possible.  The FHFA website provides the information.

  • Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have their own webpages for homeowners that include help for determining if your mortgage is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. You also can contact them by phone at 1-800-2FANNIE (1-800-232-6643) or 1-800-FREDDIE (1-800-373-3343).
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Federal Housing Finance Agency  and the Department of Housing and Urban Development have a mortgage and housing assistance joint website CARES Act mortgage relief, protections for renters and additional resources and information to avoid COVID-19 related scams.
  • Save Our Home AZ  is a program for underemployed and unemployed Arizonans that offers monthly mortgage subsidy assistance, principal reduction assistance and second lien elimination assistance to help homeowners avoid foreclosure.
  • The Lawyers Helping Homeowners program offers donated services from attorneys and paralegals to help keep people in their homes, and it is free to homeowners. The Arizona Foundation for Legal Services & Education, the State Bar of Arizona, and the Arizona Supreme Court coordinate the program. Call 602-682-3410.
  • The Arizona Department of Health services provides a variety of assistance to low-income residents, including an unemployment insurance program.
  • Health coverage and insurance is available for people who earn too much money to qualify for other Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System assistance programs. Call 1-800-654-8713.
  • The Arizona CoppeRX Card offers substantial discounts on prescription drugs to Medicare eligible residents. You must be 65 or older or be disabled to qualify for a card. Discounts range anywhere from 15% to 55%.
  • The Arizona Cash Assistance Program is part of the national Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. It helps provide assistance for childcare; promotes job preparation, work and marriage; tries to prevent out-of-wedlock pregnancy; encourages formation of two-parent families.
  • Arizona Seniors who need help with nutritious meals can call on the Arizona Department of Economic Security for services and programs that lead to healthier living.

Arizona Debt Statistics

Until the COVID pandemic, Arizona was riding high economically, ranking second nationally in job creation. The state has regained roughly two-thirds of the jobs it lost since the pandemic struck.

Its highest job growth is in transportation/warehousing, wholesale trade, retail trade and professional, scientific and technical sectors.

Arizona’s debt issues tend to avoid both ends of the national statistics.

  • Arizona had the 30th highest 2018 average credit card debt ($7,100).
  • The state had the 16th highest average mortgage debt $202,148 in 2019.
  • Arizona’s college graduates owe an average of $34,920 on their student loans, which ranks 28th in the nation.
  • At 230.39 bankruptcies per 100,000 people, Arizona was slightly above the national average of 230.38 in September 2019.

Sources

Hammond, G. (2020, September 23) Destination Arizona: Where are People Moving From? And Why? Retrieved from https://www.azeconomy.org/2020/09/economy/destination-arizona-where-are-people-moving-from-and-why/

Raul (2019, August 19) Mapping Out Average Mortgage Debt Across the U.S. Retrieved from https://howmuch.net/articles/mortgage-debt-by-state

Resendiz, J. (2020, August 18) Average Credit Card Debt in America: 2018. Retrieved from https://www.valuepenguin.com/average-credit-card-debt

N.A. (ND) How rich is each U.S. state? Retrieved from https://www.chamberofcommerce.org/how-rich-is-each-us-state/

Tatham, M. (2019, July 16) Mortgage Loan Debt Increases for the Seventh Straight Quarter. Retrieved from https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/how-much-americans-owe-on-their-mortgages-in-every-state/

Bond, C . (2020, December 4) What’s The Average Student Loan Debt By State? This Map Breaks It Down. Retrieved from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/average-student-loan-debt-by-state

Duffin, E. (2020, January 2) Personal bankruptcy rate in the United States as of September 2019, by state. Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/303570/us-personal-bankruptcy-rate/

N.A. (ND) Fastest Growing States 2020. Retrieved from https://worldpopulationreview.com/state-rankings/fastest-growing-states