Having trouble paying your bills? Getting past due notices from
creditors? Are your accounts being turned over to debt collectors?
Are you worried about losing your home or your car?
You're not alone. Many people face financial crisis at some time in
their lives. Whether the crisis is caused by personal or family illness,
the loss of a job, or simple overspending,
it can seem
overwhelming, but often can be overcome. The fact of the matter is
that 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: realistic budgeting, credit counseling from a reputable
organization, debt consolidation, or bankruptcy. How do you know
which will work best for you? It depends on your level of debt, your
level of discipline, and your prospects 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 comes in and how much money you spend. Start by listing
your income from all sources. Then, list your "fixed" expenses —
those that are the same each month — such as your mortgage
payments or your rent, car payments, or insurance premiums. Next,
list the expenses that vary, such as entertainment, recreation, or
clothing. Writing down all your expenses — even those that seem
insignificant — is a helpful way to track your spending patterns,
identify the expenses that are necessary, 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.
Your public library has information about budgeting and money
management techniques. Low cost budget counseling services that
can help you analyze your income and expenses and develop
budget and spending plans also are available in most communities.
Check your Yellow Pages or contact your local bank or consumer
protection office for information about them. In addition, many