Denver Colorado downtown with City Park, tall buildings and mountains in backgroundWith a low unemployment rate, reasonable cost of living and median household income that ranks 12th-highest in the nation, most Coloradans would seem to be sitting as pretty as Pike’s Peak financially. But the state known for its Rocky Mountain vistas also has a number of residents with sky-high debt.

Colorado ranks second nationally behind Washington, D.C., in debt-to-income ratio, and has the fifth-highest rate of credit card debt, with a median of $2,985. It would take the median Colorado resident 15 months and 3 days to pay off their credit card balance.

Coloradans who need assistance can receive free credit counseling at InCharge as well as access to a nonprofit debt consolidation program. The program reduces interest and monthly payments so that you can eliminate credit card debt in 3-5 years.

Debt Relief Options for Colorado Residents

InCharge is among the nonprofit credit counseling services operating in the state. InCharge maintains a website that allows those seeking help to apply by phone or online. Credit score is not a factor in qualifying for a debt management program, so even if you have bad credit, InCharge can still offer you a debt-relief option.

InCharge has 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 shares to your creditors. Applicants can apply online or over the phone.

While a debt consolidation program might offer a way to solve money issues and avoid bankruptcy, it is just one of a number of assistance plans available in Colorado. The state offers financial aid for crisis situations, help with medical expenses, legal aid, and help dealing with debt collectors.

The state offers grant and assistance programs to state residents as well as delivering federally funded help through rent vouchers for low-income people. Many of these programs can be found through the Colorado Program Eligibility and Application Kit (PEAK) website, where you can apply for medical, food, cash and early childhood-assistance programs in one place.

Some assistance programs available to Colorado residents include:

  • Health First Colorado The state’s Medicaid program provides low-cost public health insurance to low-income Coloradans who qualify.
  • Housing Choice Voucher Program – Formerly known as Section 8, the federally funded program provides rental assistance to income-eligible residents, subsidizing a portion of their monthly rent and utilities. If utilities are not included in rent, the program may pay a larger portion of the rent to help tenants afford utility payments.
  • Colorado WORKS This cash-assistance program helps residents with very low incomes through monthly payments, help with emergency household expenses, and/or services such as counseling, training and employment assistance.
  • Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) – This program provides child care assistance to families who are working, searching for employment, or are in training, and families who are enrolled in the Colorado Works program and need child care services to support their efforts toward self-sufficiency.
  • Low-Income Energy Assistance (LEAP)This federally funded program helps pay a portion of winter home-heating costs for low-income residents.
  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – Residents struggling to purchase food can get financial help through SNAP, formerly known as food stamps.
  • Colorado Low Income Telephone Assistance Program This federally funded program provides monthly discounts on phone bills as well as help paying set-up fees or deposits on a new account.
  • Colorado Mortgage Foreclosure Hotline – This hotline connects callers with mortgage counselors who can provide information on your options when facing foreclosure. The number is 1-877-601-HOPE.
  • Colorado Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) This low-cost insurance plan is offered to Colorado’s uninsured children and pregnant women who cannot afford private health insurance. For information, call 1-800-359-1991.

Colorado Debt Statistics

Colorado’s economy has continued to hum in recent years thanks to a diverse employment base, ongoing job and wage gains and solid consumer spending. Total non-farm employment increased by 2.1% in December 2019 compared with the same month a year earlier, its unemployment rate at the end of the year stood at a paltry 2.5%, and its 3.5% Gross Domestic Product growth in 2018 was seventh-best in the nation. Wage growth has also outpaced inflation.

Despite its natural beauty that has long made it one of the most attractive states in which to live, Colorado remains by many standards a relatively affordable place to put down roots. Its cost-of-living index is only slightly higher than the national average, and its poverty rate of 10.8% is 12th-lowest in the nation.

Nevertheless, many Coloradans seem addicted to spending (perhaps it has something to do with those irresistible mountain ski resorts or craft breweries?)  Last year, the city of Denver’s combined credit card balance was estimated at $3.3 billion, more than the value of the three-time Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos. It is one of only three states (including Washington, D.C.) nationwide where per capita debt ($68,450) exceeds median individual income ($65,458).

With troubling economic signs nationally and expectations that Colorado’s economy will slow in 2020, now may be the time for residents to rein in their spending and get their financial house in order.

The average credit card balance in Colorado is $8,643, which is the ninth-highest in the country. More than 10% of the population, or 590,000 residents, live in poverty.

Although the Colorado economy remains strong, there are some clouds on the horizon that could further darken the debt burden for residents. Job growth in the state is expected to slow to 1.4% in 2020, which would be its slowest rate since the Great Recession. The trade war has particularly dampened Colorado’s food and agriculture imports, both linchpins of its economy.

If you are among those saddled with debt and struggling to pay your bills, InCharge Debt Solutions can help. A certified credit counselor can guide financially strained consumers through their options.

A debt-management plan provides a carefully constructed payment schedule that consolidates credit card debts into one affordable monthly payment. There is no loan involved, and credit scores are not a factor in qualifying. Consumers in a debt-management program pay reduced interest rates on their credit card debt, in exchange for agreeing to stop using the cards. InCharge is nationally accredited and has been helping Coloradans eliminate debt for decades.

The ideal candidate for a debt-management plan is someone who has high-interest debt (i.e. credit cards) – and a steady enough income to handle that debt – but needs help creating a better budget to guide them down the right path.

Sources

N.A. (2019, December 19). Colorado Economic and Fiscal Outlook. Retrieved from https://cosfp.org/wp-content/uploads/December-2019-Revenue-and-Economic-Forecast.pdf

N.A. (ND) Economy at a Glance, Colorado, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/eag/eag.co.htm

N.A. (2019, December) Economic & Revenue Forecast, Colorado Legislative Council Staff. Retrieved from https://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/images/decforecast_0.pdf

N.A. (ND) Credit Card Debt by State, 2019, U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved from https://www.chamberofcommerce.org/credit-card-debt-by-state

N.A. (ND) Poverty Rate by State 2020. Retrieved from http://worldpopulationreview.com/states/poverty-rate-by-state/

N.A. (ND) Median Household Income by State 2020. Retrieved from http://worldpopulationreview.com/states/median-household-income-by-state/

N.A. (ND) Cost of Living Index By State 2020. Retrieved from http://worldpopulationreview.com/states/cost-of-living-index-by-state/

N.A. (ND) Colorado Business Economic Outlook 2020, Leeds School of Business, University of Colorado Boulder. Retrieved from https://www.colorado.edu/business/sites/default/files/attached-files/2020_colo_business_econ_outlook.pdf

McCann, A. (2019, July 30). States with the Highest and Lowest Credit-Card Debts. Retrieved from https://wallethub.com/edu/states-with-the-highest-and-lowest-credit-card-debts/63822/#main-findings

Hindi, S. (2019, June 11). If Denverites Paid Off Their Credit Card Debt, They Could Afford to Buy the Denver Broncos. Retrieved from ttps://www.denverpost.com/2019/06/11/colorado-credit-card-debt-2019-wallethub/

N.A. (ND) Cash Assistance, Colorado Office of Economic Security. Retrieved from https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdhs/cash-assistance

N.A. (ND) Health First Colorado, Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing. Retrieved from https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/hcpf/colorado-medicaid

N.A. (ND) Section 8 Participants, Colorado Department of Local Affairs. Retrieved from https://cdola.colorado.gov/section-8-participants