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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.If you and your lender can’t 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.Some lenders may reduce or suspend your payments for a short time.When you resume regular payments, though, you may have to pay an additional amount toward the past due total.If you’re thinking about getting help to stabilize your financial situation, do some homework first.Find out what services a business provides, how much it costs, and how long it may take to get the results they promised. Get everything in writing, and read your contracts carefully.
Before you do business with any debt relief service, check it out with your state Attorney General and local consumer protection agency.
Unsecured debts are not tied to any particular asset, and include most credit card debt, bills for medical care, and signature loans.
Most automobile financing agreements allow a creditor to repossess your car any time you’re in default. If your car is repossessed, you may have to pay the balance due on the loan, as well as towing and storage costs, to get it back.
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.