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.
Are your accounts being turned over to debt collectors?
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.
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.
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.