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Love and Debt: Why you need to talk about money

How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Where to go for mortgage and debt help

What You Should Know About Debt Settlement

Create a plan to deal with medical debt

Options for Higher Education

Will Changes in Credit Reporting Affect You?

What to do if your medical bills are turned over to collections

What to do if your spouse can't pay his or her bills

What to do when a family member ruins your credit

Homeownership is possible

What you need to know about the IRS and collection agencies

Will being turned down for a store credit card hurt my credit?

Beware of credit repair

Debt Management versus Debt Settlement

How to get ahead of late fees

Is There a Service That Helps You Not Pay Bills

Is a Debt Owed

Patience is the key to furnishing a new home

How to split expenses with your partner

Will my boyfriend's bad credit affect me?

What to do if your account is turned over to collections

Personal Credit and Starting a Business

Finding Money to Reduce Your Debt and Improve Your Credit

Simple Keys to Personal Finance

Be vigilant to avoid telephone and internet scams

Debt Settlement

Understanding credit utilization

The pros and cons of skipping a payment

Keep an open line of communication with parents about their finances.

Make a Choice to Get Ahead Financially

What to do when a relative asks you for money

Should You Buy a Home Now or Wait?

The difference between debt settlement and debt management

The negative impact of paying a payment 30 days late

Stressed by Finances

How to navigate two significant financial decisions: starting a family and buying a home

How to advise someone close to you who is coming into a significant amount of money

Make a Conscious Decision on How to Spend Your Money

How do you know if you have a good credit score?

Americans spend more money eating out than on groceries

Having Good Credit Saves You Money

Developing good money habits with your first job

How to save for a home

How to Know if you are Ready for Home Ownership

When is the right time to buy a home?

You can improve your credit to buy a home

Plan a Memorable Vacation Without Incurring Debt

The Hidden Costs of Payday Loans

Be Wary of Credit Repair Services

Use Caution when playing the credit card game

What does it mean to say bankruptcy gives you a clean slate?

How your credit is affected by various debt options

Be wary of predatory small business loans

What to do if you fall behind on mortgage payments

Financing a College Education

Money, Credit and Relationships

Should you be concerned with your date's credit scores?

Best options for a small, short-term loan

How to help a relative who is always borrowing money from you

Skipping a Payment over the Holidays

What to do if you are overwhelmed by medical bills

Make your financial intention a financial goal you can achieve

What to do when a collector calls you

The difference between paying bills and managing your money

My wife and I have gone through some tough financial times, which eventually led us to file for bankruptcy.  Following this experience, I don’t ever want to use credit again, but my wife

What do I need to know to pay ahead on my mortgage?

What to do if you get an unsolicited credit card in the mail

What to do when moving in to share expenses doesn't work out

Is There a Service That Helps You Not Pay Bills

Q. I’m experiencing some medical issues, and I cannot pay my bills. A friend told me that I may be able to find help with a service that can help me eliminate my debt so that I won’t have to repay what I owe. Does this kind of service really exist?

A. There isn’t a legitimate service that erases debt. Short of filing bankruptcy, you are legally responsible to pay what you owe, regardless of what any individual or company may tell you. Given that you’re already behind on your debts, I would suggest you contact your nearest non-profit accredited credit counseling agency as soon as possible; most provide budgeting help at no charge. They have certified counselors who will review your financial situation and give you options that can help you move forward.  

Whether you decide to contact a non-profit accredited credit counseling agency or not, you need to make a list of every creditor that you owe, how much you owe them, what interest rate they are charging and what the monthly payments are.  You can do this on paper or with a spreadsheet. 

Next, make a list of all your monthly living expenses.  Include your rent or mortgage payment, heat/gas, electricity, phone, internet service, gasoline, car insurance, your car payment, food, prescriptions, and any other regular monthly expenses you may have.  Subtract your regular monthly expenses from your monthly income.  Is the number positive or negative?   Do you have any remaining money to pay your debts?  This should help give you an idea of where you are at financially.

Are you struggling to make your rent payment, as well as your other payments?  Are you having trouble making your mortgage payment, but have equity in your home?  Is the situation you’re in a short or long-term problem?  If you’re having trouble answering any of these questions, this is where a certified credit counselor can be particularly helpful, providing you options based on your personal situation. 

Your creditors will often work with you if you communicate with them.  They may ask you to fill out a financial statement to prove that you are truly struggling. Your unsecured creditors may be willing to accept partial payments for a short period of time. Don’t expect to make a partial payment on your mortgage or car payment, however, since these loans are secured by your car or your home.

Even if your unsecured creditors accept a partial payment, they are going to want to hear from you every month.  They won’t assume that your situation remains unchanged – they need to hear this from you.  They will also want to know when your situation might improve.  Keep in mind that your creditors are not waiving their rights, but some will work with you if their policies allow for it.

If you think bankruptcy is going to be your best option, you will need to contact a credit counseling agency approved by the Executive Office for U.S. Trustees (EOUST) for counseling before you can file for bankruptcy.  If you want legal advice, only an attorney can provide that for you.

Bonnie Spain is the executive director of the American Center for Credit Education and Consumer Credit Counseling Service of the Black Hills. For more information, email

The material in this transmission is provided for personal, non-commercial, educational, and informational purposes only. ACCE makes no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this transmission and assumes no responsibility for errors, inaccuracies, omissions, or any inconsistency herein. You should consult a professional where appropriate.