I’m desperate for help and drowning in debt, what options do I have?

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The NFCC often receives readers questions asking us what they should do in their money situation. We pick some to share that others could be asking themselves and hope to help many in sharing these answers.

This week’s question: I feel like I am drowning in debt based on bad decisions, life changes, and events that were both out of my control and within my control which led to bad decisions. I am late on my rent payment, behind on three payments for two credit cards, one or two payments behind on a another credit card, and also behind on my gas and electric bill. I feel like I’ve dug myself a whole that I can’t get out of and because I did it to myself, asking for help is very difficult. I’m not sure if there’s anything out there for someone like me but I am going out on a limb to find out if there’s any options at all.

Acknowledging that we have made bad decisions—for whatever reason—often is the first step to correct them. So, I commend you for doing so and having the courage to reach out for help. Getting out of financial troubles takes determination, effort, and, in some cases, the guidance of a financial counselor.  Drowning in debt can be overwhelming but you’ve come to the right place. Without knowing all the details of your current situation, I can’t provide the personal advice you need, but an NFCC certified financial counselor can.
Schedule a Credit Counseling Session
Your counselor will review your overall situation, help you create a budget, and help you find the best strategies to make the most of your income while dealing with your financial obligations. They will help you establish goals and teach you how to prioritize your financial responsibilities, like your rent and utility bills. It’s essential to know how to deal with your landlord. Keeping an open communication line and getting into a payment arrangement is key. Maybe you can offer smaller payments and a detailed plan on how you plan to catch up. Keep any new agreement in writing and be honest with your landlord. If you foresee difficulties making your payments from now on, discuss it with your counselor to explore your alternatives. Your counselor can offer guidance to help you connect with local resources that may be able to help you pay for rent and your utilities. Having an advocate who can provide the timeliest details about these resources is especially important since COVID-19 has reshaped local programs’ availability.
For more details on what to expect and what you’ll need to bring to the session visit  our what to expect page.
Benefits of Working With a Credit Counselor
In addition, your counselor can help you address issues with your creditors and your late payments. Depending on your situation, you may be able to make arrangements with your creditors individually or enroll in a debt repayment program like a Debt Management Plan. There is not a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to paying down your debts. Every situation is different, and your options depend on your previous relationship with the creditors and your ability to continue making some payments. You don’t have to make those decisions alone. A certified counselor can help you explore your options and objectively point you in the right direction.
It’s a good idea to stay away from costly pay-day loans or similar fast cash options. Borrowing money from one creditor to pay another can land you in more debt and make it even harder to catch up. So, talk to an NFCC certified financial counselor today, you can reach them over the phone, online, and in-person if it’s available near you. Find the guidance that you need and set a strategy to put your finances in order. The sooner you start working on your plan, the more options you will have. You are on the right track and you’re not alone.