Knowing when to seek help with credit card bills and high levels of debt is not easy. No one likes to admit they need help, and it can often be difficult to know whether your problems are merely annoying or a real threat to your financial well being. However, the longer a debt problem goes without help, the harder it will be to deal with. While a problem addressed at the first sign of trouble is often easy to solve, the same problem a year down the road may require some drastic measures to address.
If you find yourself able to make only the minimum payments on one or more credit cards, or worse, falling behind on the payments, it may be time to seek professional help. Likewise, if you find yourself making late payments to the utility company, or if you have been late on your mortgage payment or car payment, help may be needed. Late payments on these important bills can severely damage your credit rating and make it difficult to get the loans you need in the future.
When looking for a credit counseling service, it is important to find one that offers comprehensive services aimed at not just getting you out of debt but teaching you how to stay out of debt as well. It is this educational aspect that separates the truly great credit counseling services from all the rest. Look for things like budgeting classes, information on how to manage debt and how to use credit and the like. While your primary focus is to get your current debt burden off your back, the long term goal should be to learn to use credit wisely and take control of your financial life.
It is with eliminating current debt that the debt management or credit counseling company will start. Most credit counselors will contact your creditors on your behalf and work with them to allow you to pay what you owe. In some cases this means the creditors will be willing to lower their interest rate or monthly payment. In some cases they may even be willing to settle for a lesser amount than 100% of what they are owed. The actual settlements obtained will depend on the skill of the credit counselor and the willingness of the debtor and creditors.
It is important to provide the credit counselor with a full list of what you owe, and to whom you owe it. This information will assist the credit counseling service and allow them to provide the maximum benefit with the least amount of hassle.
No matter what type of credit counseling service you choose, the most important thing is to seek help when you need it. These situations do not magically heal themselves, so it is important to know when you need help and to seek that help promptly.