Consolidating debt information

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.

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.

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.

And they must honor a written request from you to stop further contact. Secured debts usually are tied to an asset, like your car for a car loan, or your house for a mortgage.

If you stop making payments, lenders can repossess your car or foreclose on your house.

If you see default approaching, you may be better off selling the car yourself and paying off the debt: You'll avoid the added costs of repossession and a negative entry on your credit report.If you fall behind on your mortgage, contact your lender immediately to avoid foreclosure.Most lenders are willing to work with you if they believe you're acting in good faith and the situation is temporary. 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?Other lenders may agree to change the terms of the mortgage by extending the repayment period to reduce the monthly debt.

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