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When you or someone you know is in financial trouble, remind yourself that you do still have options: you have to get more realistic with your budgeting, and you can seek credit counseling and if you choose to do so then talk to a reputable organization, who has expertise in debt consolidation, or bankruptcy. As another option you can try debt settlement. How do you know which one is the right option for you? It all depends on amount of your debt, your commitment and discipline, and your ability to pay as well as financial plans for the future.

Developing a Budget:The first step toward taking control of your financial situation is to do a realistic assessment of how much money you take in and how much money you spend. Writing down all your expenses, even those that seem insignificant, is a helpful way to track your spending patterns, identify necessary expenses, and prioritize the rest. The goal is to make sure you can make ends meet on the basics: housing, food, health care, insurance, and education.

Contacting Your Creditors:Contact your creditors immediately if you’re having trouble making ends meet. Tell them why it’s difficult for you, and try to work out a modified payment plan that reduces your payments to a more manageable level.

Dealing with Debt Collectors:The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is the federal law that dictates how and when a debt collector may contact you. Collectors may not harass you, lie, or use unfair practices when they try to collect a debt. And they must honor a written request from you to stop further contact.

Managing Your Auto and Home Loans:Your debts can be unsecured or secured. Secured debts usually are tied to an asset, like your car for a car loan, or your house for a mortgage. If you stop making payments, lenders can repossess your car or foreclose on your house. Unsecured debts are not tied to any asset, and include most credit card debt, bills for medical care, signature loans, and debts for other types of services

If you and your lender cannot work out a plan, contact a housing counseling agency. Some agencies limit their counseling services to homeowners with FHA mortgages, but many offer free help to any homeowner who’s having trouble making mortgage payments. Call the local office of the Department of Housing and Urban Development or the housing authority in your state, city, or county for help in finding a legitimate housing counseling agency near you.

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