Living in California can be pricey, and it’s easy to get into debt. But it’s not the end of the world if you do.

This article will go over all your options that can lift the debt burden off your shoulders—even if it's quite a heavy one.

First, you’ll learn about state programs that can greatly reduce certain kinds of debt.

Then, you’ll see how working with a professional consolidation firm can simplify and lower your monthly payments. Finally, we’ll review some quick financial tips that you can use for a DIY approach to debt.

Escaping debt might require some patience and diligence on your part, but it is possible and could be well worth it.

Let’s dive in and see what it takes.

Debt relief programs in California

So, how does California debt relief work? And how do you qualify for debt relief?

A California debt relief program can help you reduce your debt burden. And you might qualify for more than one of the different California debt relief programs, depending on the type of debt you have.

The first is the California Mortgage Relief Program. This program helps people who have fallen behind on mortgage payments due to a Covid-19 pandemic-related hardship.

To be accepted, an applicant cannot earn too much money or own too many assets. If that sounds like you, you might be eligible for up to $80,000 in mortgage debt relief.

If you are struggling with utility bills, there is the California Arrearage Payment Program. This is a type of emergency debt relief program in California that is automatically credited to your utility account. But it only applies if you fell behind on utility bills due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Finally, there is the Child Support Debt Reduction Program. This program only applies to the debt you owe the government for child support. This one comes with a host of additional qualifications.

In addition to these specific programs, California offers other kinds of help for people with low incomes. This includes education grants, food assistance, and more. Taking advantage of these options can be a great method to reduce your debt burden with state assistance.

Much of the information on line can be overwhelming and confusing, so let’s answer some frequently asked questions about emergency debt relief in California…

Is the California debt relief program real?

The answer is that there are multiple forms of the debt relief program in California. But no one program covers all debts, so you’ll want to become familiar with the different kinds.

What is the California Payment Relief Program?

There isn’t actually a program for California emergency debt relief with that exact name, but there is the California Mortgage Relief Program. We covered this for mortgage debt relief above.

What is the California Debt Relief Program 2024?

There may be additional debt relief programs instituted this year, but most relate to the Covid-19 pandemic. This means it’s important to research which programs can benefit you before they expire.

Certainly these state programs can help with certain kinds of debt, but what about other forms of debt? For example, what options are there for California credit card debt forgiveness?

Some type of national debt relief in California would be nice, but at the moment that doesn’t seem to be coming. Instead, a practical option for credit card loans could be debt consolidation in California.

California debt consolidation

Consolidation programs might not be as good as state assistance, but they cover a wider range of debt. This means they can be a good option for other kinds of debt relief in California not covered by government programs.

So, how does debt consolidation in California work?

First, you’ll be asked to collect statements for all the debt you have. Then, you will meet with a credit counselor to come up with a plan.

The plan specifics will differ based on the company you work with. Consolidation is just what it sounds like: all your current debt is combined, leaving you with a single payment.

And the idea, of course, is that you will have a reduced interest rate and therefore an overall lower monthly payment

With this one fixed and lower payment, you can be well on your way to getting out of debt sooner.

While debt consolidation can be an effective method of credit card debt relief in California (as well as other forms of debt relief), it comes with some drawbacks. As you explore your options, bear in mind the pros and cons.


  1. Lower monthly rate
  2. One monthly payment
  3. Professional guidance from a credit counselor


  1. Potential for scams by fraudulent companies
  2. Could involve more total interest if the consolidation is longer-term than the original loans
  3. Might involve high fees with certain companies

Clearly, picking a trusted company is important for effective debt consolidation.

We don’t endorse any specific company, but there are several with good reputations. (As with most things, however, it’s always smart to do your own research before selecting one):

New Era Debt Solutions, for example, has an A+ grade from the Better Business Bureau. This is a trait shared by Consolidated Credit Solutions, another option. Finally, InCharge Debt Solutions offers both debt consolidation and counseling services. Best of all, it is registered as a nonprofit.

And all three of these companies have experience working with California debtors.

Sometimes, though, the best solution is the one you create on your own.

DIY debt relief

Debt consolidation might be a good option for you, certainly one worth looking into. Another possibility is to tackle your debt problems on your own.

First, make sure you put a budget together. This will help you better plan your spending. Of course, just making a budget isn’t enough. You’ll also need the discipline to stick to it.

Next, talk to the people you owe money to and see what kind of forgiveness they can offer.

If they think you might not be able to pay them back at all, they might accept a lower interest rate, a longer payback period, or even lower the amount you owe.

Be sure to check how these negotiations could impact your credit score or taxes.

Settling for a lower balance could hurt your credit score. And the forgiven debt could also be counted as taxable income in the future.

Finally, pay down your high-interest rate credit cards or loans first.

This will save you the most money over time. And once you’ve paid off one card, you can shift the money you were paying them and increase your payment amount to the next debt on your list.

This strategy has the added psychological effect of seeing your loans get paid down one by one. As each balance is eliminated, your confidence that escaping debt is within your power will grow.

This is especially even more true impactful when you use do-it-yourself debt relief methods.