Debt Relief in Guam
17 MIN READ
Published April 27, 2023 | Updated November 13, 2023
In a Nutshell
Though Guam is located far from the lower 48 states, there are still many debt relief options for American citizens residing on the island. If you find yourself having a hard time keeping up with minimum credit card payments, paying back personal loans, or struggling with another form of unsecured debt, it may be time to consider credit counseling, debt consolidation, bankruptcy, debt settlement, or a debt management plan.
No matter how dire it may seem, TurboDebt can help guide you to a better outcome with a free consultation and the debt solution that best fits your financial needs. Keep reading to learn about how debt affects residents of Guam and what debt relief options are available.
Guam's Debt Landscape
Guam, the Southernmost part of the Mariana Islands chain located in the Pacific Ocean, is an unincorporated territory of the United States. About 170,000 individuals live in and around the capital city of Hagatna.
Native Guamanians, also known as Chamorros, are a multiethnic group with roots in Malayo-Indonesia, Southeast Asia, Europe, and North and South America. About half of Guam’s population are Chamorros and other Micronesians.
The American military drastically affected the island’s economy, primarily based on subsistence farming, before the construction of several military bases after World War II. About a third of the land on the island is owned by the U.S. Government.
Economic hardship is a concern for the island, with many living in poverty. If you’re a Guamanian struggling with debt, you’re definitely not alone or without resources. In this article, we’ll discuss Guam residents’ debt concerns and the debt relief options they can access.
How Does Debt Relief Work in Guam?
Guam residents can access the same debt relief solutions as citizens on the mainland. First, it’s important to calculate your debt-to-income ratio to determine how much you can afford to put toward paying off your debts each month.
When you’re ready to pursue debt relief, consider getting outside help. Companies that act as intermediaries between you and your creditors are among the most effective debt relief options. These organizations can assist you in negotiating better interest rates and payment terms or reduce the total amount you owe.
Additionally, debt settlement, debt counseling, debt consolidation, and bankruptcy are options for those who want to get relief from their financial obligations. Your debt load and type of debt will determine the optimal course of action. Checking review sites like Trustpilot or agencies like the Better Business Bureau may help you choose a reliable debt relief company to improve your financial state.
When you’re struggling with overwhelming debt, trying to figure out how to fix it can be a real struggle. However, TurboDebt is here to help you escape the debt cycle.
Guam Debt and Finance Statistics
This small island in the Pacific has a distressing amount of poverty, with nearly 17% of families living below the poverty line. The island itself is in a fair amount of debt to the United States, according to the U.S. Territories from the Government Accountability Office.
Read on to find an overarching look at debt statistics in Guam, nicknamed the “Hub of the Pacific."
Average Consumer Debt in Guam
The average consumer debt in the United States increased to $17.06 trillion in the second quarter of 2023. This includes debts from mortgages, student and auto loans, and credit cards. Residents of Guam are feeling pressure from this increase as so many fall below the poverty line.
Credit Card Debt
One of the most influential aspects of a credit score is the total amount of outstanding credit card debt. In 2022, American credit card debt averaged $5,910 per individual. Residents of Guam face the same struggles trying to pay off high credit card balances in the wake of economic uncertainty and inflation.
Auto Loan Debt
Your car is collateral for your loan, so your auto loan debt is secured by the bank that issues it. If you stop making vehicle loan payments, unpleasant things start to happen.
Your credit rating also takes a hit each time you are late on a payment. Your vehicle may be repossessed if you fall too far behind on your payments and cannot catch up. Even if you no longer own the vehicle, you may be responsible for any outstanding debt associated with it.
In 2022, auto loan balances grew by almost 8% from the previous year, breaking records and straining anyone purchasing a new vehicle. This means the average auto loan debt in the U.S. is now over $22,000.
The cost of homes in Guam has skyrocketed in the post-pandemic market. In 2022, the average home price soared to $445,000, making owning a house out of reach for many residents. Those who can afford to buy are facing the highest interest rates in modern history.
Like auto loan debt, mortgages are secured and use your home as collateral. This means if you stop paying your mortgage, you may lose your home.
Student Loan Debt
There are two public colleges in Guam: the University of Guam (aka UOG) and Guam Community College, and a private Christian college, Pacific Islands Bible College, in Mangilao.
U.S. citizens with student loans pay an average of $503 a month. Over the course of repaying the debt, borrowers can pay up to 42% in interest costs, taking years to finally pay off their debts from higher education.
Since bankruptcy numbers peaked in 2012, numbers have been falling gradually as more and more Americans look for alternative ways to get help with their debt. However, some people in the United States, including Guam, still choose this type of debt relief. In 2022, a total of 45 Guam residents filed for bankruptcy.
Average Income and Employment
Since poverty is a challenge on the island, about 15% of all households in Guam have annual incomes of under $20,000, with an unemployment rate of 5.9%.
Most island residents work for either the U.S. Government or in administrative or construction roles.
Guam’s average credit score of 681 puts residents in the “good” category. A good credit score allows you to access better interest rates and loan opportunities. This is because your credit score is one indication of whether you will pay back the money you’ve borrowed. Making consistent monthly payments on bills can help raise your credit score if you’re sitting in a lower category.
In 2022, Guam led the U.S. territories in identity theft incidents. According to the FBI’s annual Internet Crime Report, 161 Guam residents fell victim to identity fraud and theft. This cost residents over $2 million in losses and represents a growing concern for islanders.
Banking and Tax Information
Guam residents file taxes either to the federal government, the territorial government, or both, depending on your income and residency. The Territory collects a 21% corporate tax rate, matching the federal government. Self-employed residents living in a U.S. Territory like Guam are subject to a self-employment tax on earnings over $400.
The island’s tax structure differs somewhat from the rest of the country because of its status as a U.S. territory. In 1950, the Organic Act of Guam was passed by Congress, establishing the Guam Territorial Government as an independent taxation authority. Income tax rules in effect in the United States function as the income tax laws of Guam, with Guam replacing the United States wherever appropriate and conflicting parts being omitted, as per Section 31 of the Act. The U.S. Internal Revenue Code becomes the Guam Territorial Income Tax Law with these amendments.
Other municipal taxes include those on alcohol, cigarettes, fuel, property, gross income, usage, admissions, amusement parks, and hotels. However, only the Government of Guam may collect taxes in the Territory. No direct general sales tax is placed on the customer other than entrance, usage, and hotel occupancy fees.
Guam is home to many financial institutions, including the Bank of Guam and the Navy Federal Credit Union.
TurboDebt Helps Guam Residents Find Relief
We're here to help you get a fresh financial start. If you're carrying over $10,000 in credit card debt, let us help you find the right option to pay it off. It only takes a few minutes to get started with a free consultation.
Top Types of Debt To Get Relief From in Guam
Credit Card Debt
Guamanians seeking help with credit card debt have several options for assistance, including traditional financial institutions, online lenders, credit counseling programs (both free and paid), and debt settlement companies.
Residents of Guam should evaluate the pros and cons of employing a debt relief firm depending on their unique financial circumstances. Debt consolidation loans, debt settlement, bankruptcy, and debt management programs are the top options for handling credit card debt.
For those who do decide to divorce, the process may be expensive. In fact, divorce is a major source of debt, with most people owing over $10,000 in legal fees and other debts. Don’t let divorce derail your financial future. TurboDebt provides specialized assistance in paying off divorce-related debt.
Taking on debt is typically a necessary companion on the path to commercial success. A company's growth is often directly proportional to an owner’s success in securing investment or financing. Finding a balance between investments that might lead to rapid expansion and those that could quickly bankrupt your business can be difficult.
It’s easy to run up debt without making a plan to pay it off. If your company’s debt is weighing you down, now is a good time to see if you’re eligible for a business debt relief program in Guam.
Even if you strictly adhere to the guidelines for preventative care, accidents and emergencies can still happen, leaving you with a hefty medical bill. From all across the country, Americans, including those in Guam, are piling up billions of dollars in medical debt.
Paying off medical debt without health insurance can be even tougher. The last U.S. Census revealed that 19% of Guam residents have no health insurance.
Get help paying off high amounts of medical bills with TurboDebt. Our debt settlement programs can assist you in negotiating for reduced payments.
With the average home price in Guam over $400,000, new homeowners or even existing owners wanting to move may find it difficult to afford a new mortgage.
Mortgage debt in the United States and territories is increasing with the country's total debt. If you’re stuck in homeowner debt, talk with the experts at TurboDebt to see how we can help.
Retiring in a lush tropical paradise like Guam is an attractive idea for both residents and those living on the U.S. mainland. However, living on a fixed income can cause financial hardship if you face unexpected expenses like a medical event or critical home repairs.
Don’t let your hard-earned savings go toward paying off big amounts of debt. TurboDebt offers options to get you back to financial stability.
Options for Debt Relief in Guam
Here are the top debt relief options for Guam residents looking to become debt-free:
Debt Management Programs
While debt management can mean a number of different things, one of the most common practices on the island involves an outside agency assisting a debtor in reducing their interest rates and fees.
A debt management company acts as an intermediary between you and your creditors, collecting all your payments into a single monthly sum, then distributing that sum to each creditor. Instead of adding to your debt load, this service should help you get your finances back under control.
Debt Consolidation Loans
Consolidating your obligations into a single, more manageable monthly payment might be a good option if you're struggling to keep up with many loan or credit card payments.
This option works best for those with fair to good credit scores because you’ll need to take out an additional loan to pay off your existing debts. Once you clear your outstanding balances, you’re left with a single monthly payment, typically at a much lower interest rate.
Debt settlement programs are often one of the most effective ways to settle large sums of debt and reclaim your financial stability. Debt settlement companies mediate between creditors and debtors to work out a reduced total debt amount and lower monthly payments.
Customers who are considering engaging with a debt settlement organization should do their due diligence first. There are several places to do research, including the Better Business Bureau and Trustpilot reviews.
Credit counseling involves working with an organization to get a better understanding of your financial situation. Certified credit counselors offer financial education resources to help you improve your budgeting practices, up your credit score, and pay down debts.
Credit counseling services often require a flat fee in order to assess a client's financial situation and provide advice. However, low-income individuals typically qualify for free credit counseling services from nonprofit groups.
There are several ways to file for bankruptcy, depending on how you want to restructure your finances. The majority of individuals file under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the most common kind filed by debtors because you can typically complete the process in a few months.
Filing for bankruptcy under Chapter 13 is a more significant step. Chapter 13 filers have three to five years to repay their creditors, as opposed to the far shorter procedure of Chapter 7. Filing for Chapter 13 may help you avoid losing many of your assets, like a home to foreclosure or a car to repossession. This chapter also provides a means to arrange a repayment plan with a creditor for debts that cannot be dismissed in bankruptcy.
When a lender cancels all or part of a borrower's outstanding debt, this is known as debt forgiveness. In most cases, borrowers must meet certain requirements before their creditors can forgive some or all of their debt.
Debt forgiveness programs are typically offered through the federal government based on factors like your job or income level. Federal employees may also qualify for loan forgiveness based on years of service and job status.
Debt and Financial Hardship Resources
Sometimes, personal circumstances mean you can’t pay back your debts immediately. Guam has some programs to help you save money and get out of a financial rut when you are struggling. Whether you live in Tamuning or Mangilao, there are places you can get help.
Several religious organizations, including the Church of Latter-Day Saints, the Catholic Church, and the Salvation Army, have missions on the island to provide aid, education, and housing. Federal programs also offer assistance to those living in poverty or facing financial hardship.
Temporary Assistance Programs
Individuals who have trouble making mortgage payments or facing foreclosure may be eligible for assistance from the federal government. Homeowners who want information on mortgage and foreclosure programs at the state level should contact the state government.
In order to help low-income families find affordable housing, the federal government funds a number of HUD-approved programs and services. People who get HUD vouchers from the government can pay their rent, security deposit, and moving costs without being evicted.
The HUD also launched the Housing Choice Voucher Program, which still offers another option. Help is available for low-income families that have been evicted in the past. The federal government subsidizes rent payments for low-income families, the disabled, and the elderly under the Section 8 housing assistance program.
Families in Guam can get help paying for childcare through Prugraman Pinilan or the Childcare Development Fund. To apply, visit the Guam Bureau of Childcare Services website.
Shelters for the Homeless and Social Help Centers
There are several emergency shelters, homeless shelters, and transitional housing organizations in Guam, including:
- Catholic Social Service Guam: Catholic Social Service, also known as Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Agana, was founded in 1979 as a religious, nonprofit social assistance agency. The organization offers several housing programs.
- Salvation Army Guam Corps: The Salvation Army helps heal the wounds of contemporary life by providing daily assistance in the form of food for the hungry, housing for the homeless, and friendship for the lonely.
- Sanctuary, Inc.: In November of 1971, Father Robert Phelps and Mr. Luis Martinez, who would go on to serve as the organization's first Executive Director, established Sanctuary Incorporated. Together, they aimed to provide a place where kids could feel secure and develop to their full potential and where families could get the support they needed to thrive.
- Victim Advocates Reaching Out: You can find resources and help for domestic violence, sexual assault, abuse, violent crime, and traumatic incidents through VARO, a non-profit volunteer organization.
- American Red Cross Guam: By coordinating the efforts of volunteers and the financial support of donors, the American Red Cross in Guam works to reduce the severity of disaster-related human suffering.
- Guma San Jose Homeless Shelter: Guma San Jose (House of Saint Joseph) was founded in June of 1990 by the Catholic Social Service in collaboration with the Bureau of Social Services/Department of Public Health & Social Services (BOSSA/DPHSS).
Free Transportation Services
Access to public transportation, particularly paratransit, is crucial for the independence of elders and individuals with disabilities. Buses and trains include wheelchair lifts and other accessibility features to make them more user-friendly. People who cannot use regular public transportation are entitled to paratransit under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Vans and minibusses, which are often used for paratransit, are often easily accessible and take a variety of routes.
A private car service that you call yourself is another choice. Some dial-a-ride programs are integrated into a community's public transportation network because paratransit funds support them. Both dial-a-ride and paratransit will pick you up and drop you off at your door, but they often need bookings in advance.
Finding Debt Relief in Guam
Guam residents face economic challenges like their mainland counterparts, with many in need of debt relief solutions. TurboDebt serves Guam with options like debt settlement and advising services.