Florida Debt Relief Guide

Floridians face some immense challenges with debt and personal finance in 2021. The average debt-to-income stands at 152 percent, according to the latest Federal Reserve Data. That means that the average Florida resident owes $1.52 in debt for every dollar they earn.

“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.”

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

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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.

In 2019, 45,526 Floridians filed for bankruptcy.

Income and employment in Florida

The per capita (average per person) income in Florida is $55,337. That’s lower than the national average of $59,729, even though the cost of living is much higher in Florida than in other parts of the country. This is what has led to Floridians owing more than they actually make.

Florida is a right-to-work state, making for a very competitive job market. Unemployment currently sits 4.8 percent. Governor Ron DeSantis cut off the federal extension of increased unemployment benefits, meaning the maximum benefit has been reduced to $275 per week. The minimum benefit is just $35 per week.

Floridians also face some significant challenges with unemployment. 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—$2 less than Florida’s minimum wage of $8.65 per hour.

That means if you are unemployed and living in Florida, chances are that you are struggling financially. 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 and keep debt minimized.

Apply for unemployment benefits in Florida »

Banking and taxes in Florida

Florida residents enjoy no income tax and a sales tax of 6%. There are three tax-free periods each year in Florida, where sales tax is waived on the purchase of select items:

  • Severe weather tax-free holiday (May 28 – Jun 6, 2021): Tax-free purchases on hurricane preparation supplies, such as self-powered light sources, generators, and two-way radios
  • “Freedom week” sales tax holiday (Jul 1-7, 2021): Tax-free purchases to music, sporting and cultural events, as well as movies, museums, and camping and boating supplies
  • Back to school holiday (Jul 31 – Aug 9, 2021): Tax-free purchases on school supplies and clothing

Florida residents are also more likely to bank than the average American. The percentage of unbanked residents—those without a checking or savings account stands at just 3.8%.

Florida housing market

Florida has always had a highly competitive housing market, particularly in highly populated areas like South Florida. However, this year has seen a rapid increase in both average home prices and rent.

Florida does have an unlimited homestead exemption, making homeownership a highly attractive option for residents who can afford to buy. However, that’s becoming increasingly difficult. Many cash buyers—both investors and people moving to the state—are coming into the market and are willing to pay over market value. That’s edging out first-time homebuyers and leaving them with few options.

  • 65.4% of Florida residents are homeowners
  • Average mortgage payment: $1,466
  • Median rent payment: $1,175

Consolidated Credit, which is based in South Florida, 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 forclosure prevention counseling.

Retirement in Florida

Florida has a well-earned reputation as America’s leading retirement paradise. A combination of year-round warm weather and robust retirement communities draw retirees from around the country and world.

However, retiring in Florida is not cheap. A 2018 study found that retirees need roughly $927,000 in assets to retire comfortably in the state. Unfortunately, roughly one in four (26%) of elderly households rely on Social Security for at least 90% of their income.

Working Floridians also have a long way to go to achieve a comfortable retirement if they plan to stay in the state. The average retirement savings stand at just $407,393. The average Floridian retires at age 64.

Average Florida insurance premiums

Floridians face some high rates when it comes to protecting their homes, vehicles, and health with insurance. Florida is a no-fault state for auto insurance, although a recent bill tried to change that. However, it was vetoed by Governor DeSantis. The average driver has an auto insurance premium of $2,082 per year.

Homeowner’s insurance rates are high as well, given the prevalence of hurricanes throughout the state. The average Florida homeowner’s insurance premium is $2,133 per year.

Health insurance premiums are high compared to national averages. The annual health insurance premium in Florida is $6,336.

Helpful resources for Floridians facing hardship

Food insecurity

City/Region Food Bank Phone Number Address
Central / Orlando Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida (407) 295-1066 411 Mercy Drive
Orlando, FL 32805
Gainesville Bread of the Mighty Food Bank (352) 336-0839 325 NW 10 Ave.
Gainesville, FL 32601
Gulf Coast Feeding the Gulf Coast (251) 653-1617 5248 Mobile South Street
Theodore, AL 36582
Lake City Florida Gateway Food Bank (386) 754-9180 553 NW Railroad St.
Lake City, FL 32055
Northeast / Jacksonville Feeding Northeast Florida (904) 513-1333 1116 Edgewood Ave N.
Units D and E
Jacksonville, FL 32254
Ocala First Step Food Bank, Inc (312) 732-5500 4045 NW 36th Ave
Ocala, FL 34478
Sarasota All Faiths Food Bank (941) 379-6333 8171 Blaikie Ct.
Sarasota, FL 34240
Southeast Feeding South Florida (954) 518-1818 2501 SW 32 Terrace
Pembroke Park, FL 33023
Southwest / Fort Myers Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida (239) 334-7007 3760 Fowler Street
Ft. Myers, FL 33901
Tallahassee Second Harvest of the Big Bend, Inc. (850) 562-3033 4446 Entrepot Blvd.
Tallahassee, FL 32310
Tampa Bay Feeding Tampa Bay (813) 254-1190 4702 Transport Dr.
Bldg. 6
Tampa, FL 33605
Treasure Coast / Fort Pierce Treasure Coast Food Bank (772) 489-3034 401 Angle Road
Ft. Pierce, FL 34947

Veterans

As of 2019, Florida was home to 1,440,338 Veterans. These resources are available to help Veterans that are facing unemployment, homelessness, and other 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 »

Helpful employment resources for Veterans:

How Consolidated Credit helps Floridians find debt relief

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.

In 2020, Consolidated Credit provided free credit counseling services to 31,659 Floridians. Of those, 2,1119 went on to consolidate their debt with our help through a debt management program. The others received a free debt analysis and complementary budget evaluation, and they were directed to the right solution for their situation to get out of debt as quickly as possible.

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.

If you’re curious how we can help you, below you will find a few case studies from clients that we’ve helped in Florida. If you’re facing challenges with debt, call us at 1-888-294-3130 to receive a free debt and budget evaluation from a certified credit counselor.

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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Victor from Williston, FL

I've had a really great experience. You guys are the best!

Where he started:

  • Total unsecured debt: $22,793.00
  • Estimated interest charges: $13,169.90
  • Time to payoff: 13 years, 11 months
  • Total monthly payments: $911.72

After DMP enrollment:

  • Average negotiated interest rate: 7.30%
  • Total interest charges: $4,667.26
  • Time to payoff: 4 years, 3 months
  • Total monthly payment: $531.00
Time Saved:
9 years, 8 months
Monthly Savings:
$380.72
Interest Saved:
$8,502.64
Linda from Cutler Ridge, FL

My husband and I are very happy with the services we have received. Thanks, Consolidated Credit!

Where she started:

  • Total unsecured debt: $16,280.00
  • Estimated interest charges: $25,162.87
  • Time to payoff: 11 years, 3 months
  • Total monthly payments: $651.20

After DMP enrollment:

  • Average negotiated interest rate: 9.55%
  • Total interest charges: $3,394.00
  • Time to payoff: 4 years, 3 months
  • Total monthly payment: $379.00
Time Saved:
7 years
Monthly Savings:
$272.20
Interest Saved:
$5,488.87
Karen from Orlando, FL

This has been a great experience. Customer service is great. Everyone is very patient and understanding.

Where she started:

  • Total unsecured debt: $30,193.00
  • Estimated interest charges: $17,610.00
  • Time to payoff: 14 years, 1 month
  • Total monthly payments: $1,207.72

After DMP enrollment:

  • Average negotiated interest rate: 7.75%
  • Total interest charges: $4,700.42
  • Time to payoff: 4 years, 6 months
  • Total monthly payment: $664.00
Time Saved:
9 years, 7 months
Monthly Savings:
$543.72
Interest Saved:
$12,909.58
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