You need to examine your overall money situation and get a realistic handle on what your financial future looks like. This can often be a daunting and nasty task, but the consequences that fester from ignoring the warning signs and doing nothing can end up being far worse. You may wish to visit the Bankruptcy Alternatives - Debtors Options site to learn more about debt and all of the choices to deal with the debt or go to the Personal Home Budget site for help and analysis of your spending patterns.

The next section of this guide will connect you with professionals to help you. Before you take any action to pursue a specific debt solution educate yourself on your options. It's fine to talk to people about various choices. Be very aware that almost any of the aid offered by debt professionals, while curing your debt problem, may destroy your credit. In some cases this need not be a big concern. If you know for sure that in a short time you will begin missing payments and that nothing on the horizon can alter the inevitable fact that you will not be paying any creditors any money at all for at least 6 months, you and your good credit will be parting ways anyhow. On the other hand, if you find yourself in the middle of a temporary set back and things will return to normal in a month or two, don't panic or get talked into a debt service that will haunt your credit for years to come. Let me also remind you that credit bureaus don't mark a late payment against you until you go over 30 days late.

Often people with good credit figure the trouble starts with a check not in the mail by the deadline. Try to pay on time, and try to avoid any late charge that may come at 10 or 15 days, but the key date for your credit report comes a full 30 days after the due date. For those with short term problems get in contact with your creditors to let them know what has come up in your life, how you plan to straighten it out and when your payments will return to normal. They may allow you to miss a payment or pay a lower amount for a month or two without having a black mark on your credit report. For serious long-term debt problems you will be better off with a debt professional. Talking to them costs nothing out of your pocket and no one at the credit agencies will know about the conversations. If you find yourself still unsure you may want to try the pre-qualification questionnaires at for each of the debt solution types. Serious debt help may end up as exactly what you need, just be sure you know the resulting impact on your credit before you take action and that the affect on your credit was unavoidable or a consequence you accept knowingly.