The pandemic hit many of us hard. Emotionally, physically—and in some cases most severely—financially. With comparisons to The Great Depression as noted in this Investopedia article, it has been a year.

I, for one, lived an admittedly comfortable life and seldom worried about money until I found myself out of work for over a year during this most catastrophic time. After my severance pay ran out, I relied on unemployment benefits and the odd freelance assignment while I depleted my savings and racked up debt on my credit cards. It was unnerving and I’m incredibly grateful I made it through, never losing my home or my car.

Now, I’m back on my feet in a job that I love, doing fulfilling work and attempting to climb out of the monetary mess I couldn’t help but get myself into, but I’m wondering about the fastest path to resolution.

I recently began researching debt consolidation. What I learned is that there are many ways to go about tackling debt:

• You can pay down your highest APR credit card first, to eliminate the biggest potential debt from growing any further.

You can transfer credit card balances to a low-interest card … provided you’re sure you can pay it off before the rate spikes after an introductory period.

You can eliminate all ‘extras’ including some amenities like cable that many, like me, consider necessity).

• You can negotiate lower APR percentages with your creditors (apparently sometimes all you have to do is ask).

But the main way many choose to overcome this burden in one fell swoop is to take out a Debt Consolidation Loan. The thought process behind this is to combine all that you owe into one convenient (potentially lower) monthly payment with a reduced interest rate that allows you to pay the entire sum down more rapidly. Seems like a no-brainer … or maybe not?

Some may understandably not want to go through the loan approval process or worry about the risk of missing a loan payment, which can impact one’s overall credit score. A lower monthly payment, which frees up more cash for spending, may also psychologically make you breathe a little easier about new purchases, which isn’t necessarily a good way to squash bad habits (if your debt is a result of any extravagant or unnecessary spending).

However, if you did maintain a good credit score during the tumultuous economic pandemic roller coaster and your debts are medical in nature or were honestly incurred due to simply staying afloat, debt consolidation may actually be a good solution.

It is estimated that it can take nearly 30 years to get out of $10,000 of credit card debt, so expediting the pay-down process in one way or another is definitely a plus. With more research and deep dives into all of the debt reduction options available to me, I’m sure I’ll find a solution that’s both feasible and reasonable.

Anything to take the sting out of the situation and realize there’s a light at the end of the tunnel …