Tips for consolidating credit card debt
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. Then, list your "fixed" expenses — those that are the same each month — like mortgage payments or rent, car payments, and insurance premiums.Next, list the expenses that vary — like groceries, entertainment, and clothing.
The goal is to make sure you can make ends meet on the basics: housing, food, health care, insurance, and education. Are you worried about losing your home or your car? Many people face a financial crisis at some point in their lives. Are your accounts being turned over to debt collectors?Whether the crisis is caused by personal or family illness, the loss of a job, or overspending, it can seem overwhelming. Your financial situation doesn’t have to go from bad to worse.If you or someone you know is in financial hot water, consider these options: self-help using realistic budgeting and other techniques; debt relief services, like credit counseling or debt settlement from a reputable organization; debt consolidation; or bankruptcy. It depends on your level of debt, your level of discipline, and your prospects for the future.Don’t wait until your accounts have been turned over to a debt collector.
At that point, your creditors have given up on you.
Federal law dictates how and when a debt collector may contact you: not before 8 a.m., after 9 p.m., or while you’re at work if the collector knows that your employer doesn’t approve of the calls.
You can find information about budgeting and money management techniques online, at your public library, and in bookstores.
Computer software programs can be useful tools for developing and maintaining a budget, balancing your checkbook, and creating plans to save money and pay down your debt.
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.