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Florida Debt Relief Guide

Living in the Sunshine State can come at a steep price. Florida is home to the 10th most expensive city in the United States[1] and the 32nd most expensive city globally[2]. It ranks second in the country for the number of bankruptcies and foreclosures and also has one of the highest average credit card balances in the country. If you live in Florida, debt relief is a financial solution you may want to consider.

“The situation is unsustainable,” says Gary Herman, President of Consolidated Credit, “and unfortunately it is only getting worse. Home prices and rent are rising quickly, as are insurance rates. When you combine that with the rapid inflation we’ve seen nationwide, it puts Florida residents in a really tough position.”

Fortunately, there are several debt relief options for Floridians saddled with overwhelming debt. Discover state-specific resources for help managing debt and learn how Consolidated Credit can help no matter which state you live in.

How Consolidated Credit helps Floridians find debt relief

In 2021, Consolidated Credit provided free credit counseling to 20,558 Florida residents. Of those, 1,130 went on to consolidate their debt with our help through a debt management program, enrolling an average of $12,539. The other Floridians received a free debt analysis and complementary budget evaluation and were directed to the right solution for their situation to get out of debt as quickly as possible.

Consolidated Credit is proud to call Florida home. We’re also proud of the work we do with our community partners, such as the United Way of Broward County and LifeNet4Families, to help underserved communities develop the skills they need to live financially healthy lives.

Florida debt relief reviews

Congratulations to the hundreds of Florida residents who became debt-free last year with the help of Consolidated Credit! See what our past customers have to say about working with us to get out of debt.

Case Study

Gerald from Valrico, FL

“Consolidated Credit has been amazing. They made getting out of debt not so painful! Thank you. ”

Where he started:
  • Total unsecured debt: $108,688.00
  • Estimated interest charges: $64,104.03
  • Time to payoff: 18 years
  • Total monthly payments: $4,347.52
After DMP enrollment:
  • Average negotiated interest rate: 5.25%
  • Total interest charges: $11,267.00
  • Time to payoff: 4 years, 8 months
  • Total monthly payment: $2,165.00
Time Saved

13 years, 4 months

Monthly Savings

$2,182.52

Interest Saved

$52,837.03

Case Study

Courtney from Cleremont, FL

“This has been an awesome experience so far. Thanks, Consolidated Credit! ”

Where she started:
  • Total unsecured debt: $23,045.00
  • Estimated interest charges: $12,941.85
  • Time to payoff: 12 years, 11 months
  • Total monthly payments: $921.80
After DMP enrollment:
  • Average negotiated interest rate: 3.83%
  • Total interest charges: $1,060.59
  • Time to payoff: 3 years, 2 months
  • Total monthly payment: $619.00
Time Saved

9 years, 9 months

Monthly Savings

$302.80

Interest Saved

$11,881.26

Case Study

Stephanie from Fort Lauderdale, FL

“I can’t put into words how this has changed our lives. We were almost $50,000 in debt, but thanks to Consolidated Credit we’ll be debt free in 3 months. ”

Where she started:
  • Total unsecured debt: $47,606.00
  • Estimated interest charges: $27,298.79
  • Time to payoff: 15 years, 3 months
  • Total monthly payments: $1,904.24
After DMP enrollment:
  • Average negotiated interest rate: 6.68%
  • Total interest charges: $3,452.53
  • Time to payoff: 4 years
  • Total monthly payment: $1,016.00
Time Saved

11 years, 3 months

Monthly Savings

$888.24

Interest Saved

$8,390.08

Case Study

Taylor from Miami, FL

“I’m so grateful for Consolidated Credit. I don’t regret working with them for a second. They saved me! ”

Where he started:
  • Total unsecured debt: $21,444.00
  • Estimated interest charges: $12,233.96
  • Time to payoff: 13 years, 3 months
  • Total monthly payments: $857.76
After DMP enrollment:
  • Average negotiated interest rate: 8.20%
  • Total interest charges: $3,451.22
  • Time to payoff: 4 years
  • Total monthly payment: $506.00
Time Saved

9 years, 3 months

Monthly Savings

$351.76

Interest Saved

$8,782.74

Case Study

Melissa from Fern Park, FL

“Everyone is always very helpful, polite and professional. I’m very happy with the services! ”

Where she started:
  • Total unsecured debt: $22,331.00
  • Estimated interest charges: $12,262.05
  • Time to payoff: 12 years, 7 months
  • Total monthly payments: $892.74
After DMP enrollment:
  • Average negotiated interest rate: 5.55%
  • Total interest charges: $3,022.55
  • Time to payoff: 4 years, 2 months
  • Total monthly payment: $510
Time Saved

8 years, 5 months

Monthly Savings

$382.74

Interest Saved

$9,239.50

Case Study

Yvette from Tamarac, FL

“This was the best decision I could have made when I was up to my neck in debt. ”

Where she started:
  • Total unsecured debt: $46,112.00
  • Estimated interest charges: $26,402.63
  • Time to payoff: 13 years, 8 months
  • Total monthly payments: $1,844.48
After DMP enrollment:
  • Average negotiated interest rate: 4.00%
  • Total interest charges: $2,486.64
  • Time to payoff: 3 years, 9 months
  • Total monthly payment: $1,082.00
Time Saved

10 years, 1 month

Monthly Savings

$762.48

Interest Saved

$23,915.99

Case Study

Mary from Jacksonville, FL

“After just 3 years, I have paid off over $30K!! It’s the best thing I ever did. My last payment goes out next month! ”

Where she started:
  • Total unsecured debt: $30,440.89
  • Estimated interest charges: $17,505.99
  • Time to payoff: 13 years, 5 months
  • Total monthly payments: $1,217.63
After DMP enrollment:
  • Average negotiated interest rate: 6.70%
  • Total interest charges: $4,186.96
  • Time to payoff: 3 years, 8 months
  • Total monthly payment: $794.00
Time Saved

9 years, 9 months

Monthly Savings

$423.63

Interest Saved

$13,319.03

Case Study

Maria from Hialeah, FL

“I am very happy with this company. All the personnel are very attentive and with their help now I finally have my bills organized. ”

Where she started:
  • Total unsecured debt: $8,822.00
  • Estimated interest charges: $5,040.27
  • Time to payoff: 11 years, 6 months
  • Total monthly payments: $341.84
After DMP enrollment:
  • Average negotiated interest rate: 0.00%
  • Total interest charges: $0.00
  • Time to payoff: 3 years, 4 months
  • Total monthly payment: $226.00
Time Saved

8 years, 2 months

Monthly Savings

$115.84

Interest Saved

$5,040.27

Case Study

Walter from Hollywood, FL

“I wish to congratulate and also thank Consolidated Credit for assembling the incredible team of homerun hitters that you have assembled in your customer service department. They are your best representatives and stand as bright shining lights to the debt-besieged public. ”

Where he started:
  • Total unsecured debt: $29,397.00
  • Estimated interest charges: $16,752.75
  • Time to payoff: 13 years, 6 months
  • Total monthly payments: $1,175.88
After DMP enrollment:
  • Average negotiated interest rate: 4.19%
  • Total interest charges: $1,988.74
  • Time to payoff: 4 years, 5 months
  • Total monthly payment: $594.00
Time Saved

9 years, 1 month

Monthly Savings

$581.88

Interest Saved

$14,764.01

Debt relief options for Florida residents

If you’re looking for legal ways to get out of debt, there are multiple debt relief options to choose from. Certified credit counselors can help you save thousands of dollars while also minimizing the negative impact of debt on your credit score. They work with creditors on your behalf to arrange repayment terms that are much more favorable, These include:

  • Eliminated late fees or interest rates
  • Getting out of debt for less than the full balance owed 
  • Halt negative remarks from lenders to credit bureaus

Types of debt relief 

Each type of debt relief carries its strengths and some methods are better suited for specific financial situations than others. Take, for example, a person whose savings are depleted and knows they won’t be able to make next month’s payments on time (but isn’t late on payments just yet). That individual will need a very different approach than someone who has hundreds of thousands in medical debt and is unemployed.  

Choosing the right debt relief program will ultimately be decided by how severe your debts are, your ability to put money towards them, your current credit score, and your future financial needs. Below is an overview of the different debt relief options, and how they work.

Relief options to consider if you’re in debt in Florida

A debt consolidation loan is an unsecured personal loan that you get to pay off credit cards and other existing debts. You need good credit to qualify for the lowest interest rate possible. That low rate helps lower your total payments so you can get out of debt faster, even though you may pay less each month. So, this is a good solution for Florida residents with a high credit score.

A home equity loan or home equity loan of credit (HELOC) is a debt solution that’s only available to Florida homeowners. If you have equity available in your home, you can borrow against that equity and use the funds to pay off your debt. However, this can be a risky option for paying off credit card debt if you are living paycheck-to-paycheck. Home equity lending products put Floridians at risk of foreclosure if they can’t make the payments. If you are considering borrowing against your home, call 1-800-435-2261 to speak with a HUD-certified housing counselor to make sure this is a safe option for you.

Nonprofit credit counseling services like those provided by Consolidated Credit help Floridians identify the best solution for getting out of debt. This is a free service. Florida residents can get a confidential debt and budget evaluation from a certified credit counselor. Then the counselor will explain options that are available to each person and recommend the best course of action based on an individual’s needs and goals.

If a Florida consumer cannot get out of debt effectively on their own but has the ability to repay everything they owe to avoid bankruptcy, a debt management program is often the best solution. You enroll in the program through a credit counseling organization. They help you find a monthly payment you can afford and then work with your creditors to reduce or eliminate interest. Qualifying Floridians can get out of debt in 36-60 payments.

Debt settlement allows Florida residents to get out of debt for a percentage of what they owe. You can settle debt on your own and negotiate with individual creditors and collectors or enroll in a debt settlement program to get professional help. This does cause credit damage. Each debt settled will be noted on your credit report for seven years from the date the account first became delinquent. However, it can be a viable debt relief option for avoiding bankruptcy when you are completely overwhelmed with debt.

Consolidated Credit Helps Florida Residents Reduce Their Total Credit Card Payments by Up to 50%

Florida debt statistics 

Floridians are struggling with debt, the numbers show. The average Floridan carries $84,926 in debt, a 4% increase from the previous year[3]. The bulk of this is due to mortgages which average $208,536[4]. Student loans, auto loans, and credit card debt account for the other main sources of Florida’s consumer debt with a state average of $40,866, $10,110, and $5,620 respectively[5][6][7].

According to the Federal Reserve, the 2021 Floridian household debt-to-income ratio is 1.7. This means that for every $1 earned, Florida residents owe $1.70[8]. Floridians are living beyond their means and are spending money twice as quickly as they can earn it.

One bright spot is that Floridians know how to use their credit wisely. Florida’s average credit score is 707 which is only a few points below the national average of 717.

Consumer debt in Florida

This chart shows a breakdown of average consumer debt in Florida, based on the latest report of Household Debt report from the Federal Reserve.

Want to know if Consolidated Credit can help you, too? Get a free, confidential debt and budget analysis now.

Resources for Floridians facing financial hardship

Even the most financially responsible Floridians may find themselves struggling from time to time as they face fast-rising rents and home prices, natural disasters, and nationwide inflation. In addition to Florida debt relief help that’s available, there may also be local assistance programs that can help you make ends meet in the meantime.

Food Pantries

There are over 2,252,050 people in Florida, approximately who are facing hunger, 1 out of every 9 Floridians. Many of the state’s counties suffer from food deserts where access to fresh and healthy foods is more than half a mile away. There’s there are existing financial pressures as Florida homeowners and renters feel the squeeze as prices and property taxes increase.

Below are regional programs and organizations that are helping to reduce hunger in Florida for those in need and in underserved communities.

City/RegionFood BankPhone NumberAddress
Central / OrlandoSecond Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida(407) 295-1066411 Mercy Drive
Orlando, FL 32805
Gainesville
Bread of the Mighty Food Bank
(352) 336-0839325 NW 10 Ave.
Gainesville, FL 32601
Gulf Coast
Feeding the Gulf Coast
(251) 653-16175248 Mobile South Street
Theodore, AL 36582
Lake City
Florida Gateway Food Bank
(386) 754-9180553 NW Railroad St.
Lake City, FL 32055
Northeast / Jacksonville
Feeding Northeast Florida
(904) 513-13331116 Edgewood Ave N.
Units D and E
Jacksonville, FL 32254
OcalaFirst Step Food Bank, Inc(312) 732-55004045 NW 36th Ave
Ocala, FL 34478
SarasotaAll Faiths Food Bank(941) 379-63338171 Blaikie Ct.
Sarasota, FL 34240
Southeast
Feeding South Florida
(954) 518-18182501 SW 32 Terrace
Pembroke Park, FL 33023
Southwest / Fort MyersHarry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida(239) 334-70073760 Fowler Street
Ft. Myers, FL 33901
TallahasseeSecond Harvest of the Big Bend, Inc.(850) 562-30334446 Entrepot Blvd.
Tallahassee, FL 32310
Tampa Bay
Feeding Tampa Bay
(813) 254-11904702 Transport Dr.
Bldg. 6
Tampa, FL 33605
Treasure Coast / Fort PierceTreasure Coast Food Bank(772) 489-3034401 Angle Road
Ft. Pierce, FL 34947

Veterans

As of 2021, Florida is home to 1,492,000 veterans, nearly half of which are 65 years old or older. The resources below are available to those who’ve served our country and are facing unemployment, homelessness, and other financial hardships.

Florida Department of Veterans Affairs
National crisis hotline: (800) 273-8255
Florida Veterans Support Line: (844) 693-5838
Headquarters:
11351 Ulmerton Road, Suite 311-K
Largo, FL 33778-1630
(727) 518-3202

Tallahassee Office:
The Capitol, Suite 2105
400 South Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001
(850) 487-1533

Benefits and Assistance Division
9500 Bay Pines Blvd.
Suite 214
Bay Pines, FL 33744
(727) 319-7440

Find a Veteran service office in your area »

Employment resources for veterans:

If you’re facing challenges with debt, call us at (844) 276-1544 to receive a free debt and budget evaluation from a certified credit counselor.

Florida cost of living statistics [2022]

Florida is one of the most populous states in the country. The actual cost of living can vary significantly from county to county with a wide variety of urban, suburban, and rural communities. This is why even though Florida’s average debt is lower than national averages, those amounts can still be unwieldy to Floridians who live outside major metropolitan areas where incomes are significantly higher.

Florida income & employment

According to the United States Census Bureau[11], the per capita median household income is $57,703–lower than the national average of $59,729 per year. Considering that the cost of living is much higher in Florida than in other parts of the country, it’s not difficult to see why so many Floridians struggle with debt. 

Florida is a right-to-work state making for a very competitive job market. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment sits at 3%, its lowest since the initial pandemic shutdowns in May 2020 when the unemployment rate spiked to 13.9%, its highest level in two decades[12]. In early 2020 when unemployment applications skyrocketed as a result of pandemic shutdowns, the website for unemployment benefits crashed and many had trouble applying for the benefits they needed. What’s more, even if a person qualifies for the maximum benefit of $275 per week, that equates to $6.87 per hour—$3 less than Florida’s minimum wage of $10.00 per hour[13].

While lawmakers say they are committed to fixing the broken unemployment system, no progress has been made yet. If you’re in this situation, take steps to prioritize your bills.

Florida taxes & tax holidays

Florida residents enjoy some of the lowest taxes in the country thanks to a lack of an income tax (Florida is one of only eight states that does so). Property and car taxes are also below the national average, though sales taxes are slightly higher.  

A general state sales tax of 6% applies to all purchases in Florida with a few exceptions:

  • Sales of new mobile homes: 3%
  • Amusement machine receipts: 4%
  • Rental, lease, or license of commercial real estate: 5.5%
  • Electricity: 6.95%

In addition to these state taxes, many Florida counties also apply a discretionary sales surtax (also referred to as county taxes) which can be applied to items and services as well as transient rental taxes which can be applied to rentals or leases of various accommodations such as hotels, apartments, condos, mobile home parks, or timeshares[14]

2022 Florida sales tax holidays

Florida has multiple tax-free periods each year where sales tax is waived on the purchase of eligible items or services. These tax holidays are geared towards specific activities, times of the year, or industries[15].

Back-to-School: Sales Tax Holiday (Jul 25 – Aug 7, 2022): An annual two-week tax holiday with tax-free purchases on school supplies and clothing costing $100 or less; school supplies and learning aids $50 or less; and personal computers, accessories, and non-recreational software $1,500 or less. 

Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday (July 1-7, 2022):   An annual two-week tax holiday eliminated sales tax on hurricane preparation supplies such as self-powered light sources $40 or less; generators; radios and batteries $50 or less; coolers $60 or less; smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and carbon monoxide detectors $70 or less; tarps $100 or es; and generates $1,000 or less. This sales tax exemption also includes some purchases related to pet evacuation. 

Freedom Week Sales Tax Holiday (Jul 1-7, 2021): An annual tax holiday on purchases of admission to music, sporting, cultural events, movies, museums, theater, and dance performances (both single admission or season tickets), as well as state parks and fitness facilities. Many outdoor recreational items related to boating and other water activities, camping, fishing, sports equipment, and general outdoors supplies are also exempt from sales tax this week.

Skilled Worker Tools Sales Tax Holiday (September 3-9, 2022): Tools used by skilled trade workers including certain hand and power tools, work boots, safety equipment, shop lights, belts and toolboxes, plumbing and electrical equipment, industry textbooks, and codebooks.

Gas Tax Holiday (October 1 – 31, 2022): Taxes on motor fuel are reduced by $0.25 per gallon

Average Florida homeownership and rent costs

Florida has an unlimited homestead exemption, making homeownership a desirable option for real estate. However, that’s becoming increasingly difficult as Florida has some of the fastest-rising prices in the country and is one of the most over-valued markets [16]

  • 65.4% of Florida residents are homeowners
  • Average Florida mortgage payment: $1,466
  • Average Florida rent for 1-bedroom apartment: $1,388[17]

These numbers fail, however, to represent average rent prices in Florida’s biggest cities. In addition to being significantly higher than the state average, Miami, Orlando, and Tampa also lead the nation in year-over-year (YoY) rent increases. 

At the national forefront is Miami with a staggering 57.2% YoY rent increase and an average rent of $2,988 a month. Orlando has the second-highest YoY rent increase of 35% YoY and an average rent cost of  $2,114 a month. Third in the nation is Tampa with a 31% YoY rent increase, whose average monthly rents now stand at  $1,886 a month[18]. Housing instability is on the rise, particularly in hotbeds like South Florida. 

While Florida has always been a highly competitive housing market, the house-buying frenzy during the pandemic took Florida’s real estate and rental prices to new heights. Many investors and families moving to the state are cash buyers willing to pay over market value, edging out first-time homebuyers. This has resulted in a rapid increase in both average home prices (which were already high due to a longstanding shortage of available homes), skyrocketing home prices as well as significantly increased rent prices. 

Housing instability in Florida

Over 1.6 million low-income Florida households spend over 50% of their income on rent[19]. Whereas median Florida rents have increased by 22%, renter household income has only increased by 7%. Florida has the second highest percentage of renters behind on payments in the country (South Carolina is first), and 77.5% of these residents report a possibility of being evicted within two months.

  • 383,326 Floridians report being at least 1 month behind on rent payments[19]
  • In 2020, 27,490 Floridians experienced homelessness on a single night[19]
  • 91,070 Florida children lived in unstable housing[19]
  • 35% of low-income renters are working adults; 16% have a disability, 14% are seniors; 3% are veterans[19]

Federal rental assistance has helped nearly half a million low-income Florida residents afford modest housing. Limited funding has resulted in the majority of Floridians in need not receiving rental assistance. Nonprofit agencies like Consolidated Credit are working to fill that gap.    

Consolidated Credit is based in South Florida and has partnered with Broward County and the City of Fort Lauderdale to provide support for their Emergency Rental Assistance Programs (ERAP). We are also approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to provide housing counseling services in Florida. Those services include homebuyer education and counseling, reverse mortgage counseling, and foreclosure prevention counseling.

Talk to a HUD-certified housing counselor to get help with the housing challenges you’re facing

Average Florida insurance premium rates

Unlike most other types of financial services, insurance is regulated by states, rather than the federal government. As such, the costs of home, health, and vehicle insurance in Florida can be vastly different from other states. Unsurprisingly, Floridians face some of the highest rates in the country. 

The average Florida driver has an auto insurance premium of $2,762 per year–nearly a thousand dollars more than the national average[20]. The minimum required car insurance coverage in Florida must include $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) benefits and $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL) benefits[21].

Homeowner’s insurance rates are high as well, given the prevalence of hurricanes throughout the state. The average Florida homeowner’s insurance premium when comparing both state-specific and national insurance companies is $2,220 per year[22]. Compare this to the national average of $1,680 a month. The Florida legislature is currently debating several new plans that would help lower homeowners’ insurance premiums or at least stop the triple-digit increases seen by most homeowners in the past few years.

Florida health insurance premiums are the 12th highest in the country, though it’s actually not that much higher than the national average, only 8.21%. The 11th highest state is 14% higher and the state with the most expensive insurance premiums is a whopping 53.72% higher! So, how much is coming out of Floridans’ wallets? The average cost for a 40-year-old on a mid-tier health insurance plan is $585 per month, with an annual out-of-pocket of $7,020[23].

Florida retirement costs

Florida has a well-earned reputation as America’s leading retirement paradise for senior citizens 65 or older. A combination of year-round warm weather and robust retirement communities draws retirees from around the country and the world. That has contributed to Florida having the second-highest number of senior residents, over 4.6 million, and the highest population of senior citizens, 21.3%, of any state[24].

Florida is ranked as the second best state to retire in terms of affordability, culture, weather, and crime rates[25] but retiring in Florida isn’t cheap. Retirees need roughly $1,067,000 in assets to retire comfortably in the state based on current life expectancies[26]. The average Floridian retires at age 64.

Ready to solve your problems with debt? Talk to a certified credit counselor for free to find the best way to get out of debt for you.

Sources:

[1] Forbes – Here are the Most Expensive Cities in Every State

[2] Forbes – These Global Cities Have The Highest Cost Of Living 

[3] Experian – Consumer Debt Review 2021 

[4] Experian – Total Mortgage Debt Increases to $10.3 Trillion in 2021 

[5] Experian – Student Loan Debt Reaches Record High in 2020 

[6] Experian – US Auto Debt Grows to Record High Despite Pandemic 

[7] Experian – Credit Card Debt in 2021: Balances Slightly Decline 

[8] The Federal Reserve – Map: State-Level Debt-to-Income Ratio, 1999 – 2021 

[9] Urban.org – Debt in America: An Interactive Map 

[10] American Bankruptcy Institute – Bankruptcy Statistics 

[11] US Census Bureau – Florida QuickFacts 

[12] US Bureau of Labor Statistics – Local Area Unemployment Statistics Home Page 

[13] US Department of Labor – State Minimum Wage Laws 

[14] Florida Dept. of Revenue – Florida Sales and Use Tax 

[15] Florida Senate – Senate Takes Up Broad-Based Tax Relief for Florida’s Families 

[16] Florida Today – A rental trends study finds 10 Florida markets among the most overvalued in the nation 

[17] Statista – Average rent for different types of apartments Florida 2021 

[18] Realtor.com – March Rental Report: Rents for Smaller Units in San Francisco Bay Area Have Not Returned to Pre-Pandemic Levels 

[19] Center on Budget and Policy Priorities – Federal Rental Assistance Fact Sheets 

[20] Bankrate – The True Cost of Auto Insurance in 2022 

[21] Nolo – Florida No-Fault Car Insurance 

[22] ValuePenguin – Average Cost of Homeowners Insurance (2022) 

[23] ValuePenguin – Average Cost of Health Insurance (2022) 

[24] PRB – Which US States Have the Oldest Populations? 

[25] Bankrate – The Best And Worst States For Retirement 2021: All 50 States, Ranked  

[26] The Center Square – What It Costs to Retire Comfortably in Florida