Getting credit counseling will provide the best plan for reduction of your debt and get you the training you need to be a responsible consumer.
When is Debt a Problem?
The symptoms of too much debt are easily recognizable and include concern about being able to meet monthly obligations, consistent focus on adding up monthly bills to see if there will be enough to go around, making late payments when no financial catastrophe has been the cause, stress, anxiety and family arguments about individual spending habits. Obviously, when obligations become more than income brings in, there is a serious problem. Instead of burying one’s head in the sand, hoping that creditors will simply allow late or missed payments, the smart debtor locates someone who can provide credit counseling as a means out of the situation.
The Assistance that Credit Counseling Provides
Locating a professional credit counselor or counseling service is the first step in the pursuit of a solution. There are any number of non-profit agencies that provide this service for free, so if money is an issue, it would be good to begin with one of these. Other professionals provide such services for a fee, and there are many that will provide both advice and additional services until you are back on track.
A credit counselor will first look at all of your debt, your monthly obligations for that debt, your other regular monthly expenses as well as your total net income. The purpose of this is to decide if you can reasonably afford the monthly debt but are simply engaging in irresponsible financial management or if you are truly in over your head and cannot meet your obligations. Depending upon your situation, a plan will then be developed.
If you are simply engaging in irresponsible spending, the credit counselor will develop a budget for you, a budget which you must follow if you are to meet your obligations and maintain a solid credit rating. Within the budget will be a sequential, organized plan to reduce debt as quickly as possible. In extreme cases, you may be asked to turn your paychecks over to the counselor who will pay your bills and give you an “allowance.” This will occur for a period of time while you become educated in the sound principles of personal finance.
If you are in over your head and cannot meet your debt, a counselor may recommend credit consolidation or negotiation with current creditors for alternative re-payment plans. There are consequences of these options in terms of your credit score, however, in the long-term, you will rebuild your credit as the debt is paid off and the behaviors which resulted in the situation are not repeated. During this time, the counselor will also provide training in personal finance so that your future spending and savings habits become more responsible.
It is common for adults to develop credit problems, and you should not be embarrassed about asking for the assistance you need. A wise person takes steps to correct mistakes; a fool ignores the mistakes and drowns in his sea of debt.