Alternatives to Bankruptcy to deal with debt are as varied as the types of debt you have. There are many articles in the Bankruptcy Law Network blog about specific issues and options in lieu of a bankruptcy filing. This is more of a general outline of options:
Paying your debts as you go. If you are capable of paying your debts as they come due, from current income, this is often the most advisable option.
Credit Counseling Programs. Reputable credit counselors will set up a payment plan with your lenders that involves you making a payment to then counselor which is then distributed to your lenders each month. Typically each lender gets a portion of this payment. In most plans, you are required to repay all creditors in full over a 5-year period. This option can work if the majority of your debt is credit cards and you are not seriously in default. The creditors may agree to reduce or eliminate interest. But the terms of the payment can change over time if the lenders change their policies.
Debt Negotiation. A strategy to arrange different terms with your lenders, with longer payment periods, reduced payments, and the like. Most larger lenders are not willing to change their terms except for short periods of time – a few months of waived interest, for example – to help you out. Smaller lenders or creditors (like medical care providers) may work with you, but it is entirely up to them.
Debt Settlement. A strategy to resolve debts by providing a lump sum payment of a smaller balance in return for waiver of the remaining balance. This strategy will generally only work in the long run if you have enough money on hand to make the largest settlements very quickly. If the plan requires you to save money over time, you may not be able to save money as fast as the interest accrues on your debt. You must also be prepared to deal with income taxes that can be owed on forgiven debt.
As with any option to deal with debt problems, including bankruptcy, you should be wary of services that seem too good to be true. Credit problems can make you vulnerable so be cautious and be informed.