How can I get a handle on my debt?

Being faced with debt is emotionally daunting. You may feel as though you're making no progress as your bills continue to pile up. In this case, it's crucial that you take the proper steps to address debt and ensure it doesn't negatively impact your financial future. The Balance offers the following advice on how you can get a handle on any amount of debt. 

Don't miss payments

When at all possible, you should pay more than the minimum on credit cards and other bills. However, if you can't afford more than the minimum, it's crucial that you at least pay that much. Missing payments cause late fees and penalties to add up, which only increases your financial burden. It can also negatively impact your credit report. If you forget when bills are due and don't have automatic payments scheduled, create a calendar for your bills to keep you on track.

Build up your emergency savings

An emergency savings fund helps you when unexpected expenses crop up. This can include things like medical bills, vehicle repairs, and other costs you're not anticipating. Without an emergency fund, you'll only sink deeper into debt when the unexpected happens. While it can be difficult to save money when funds are limited, even taking as little as $50 out of each paycheck is better than not having any savings at all.

Don't be afraid to ask for help

The amount of debt you're faced with could be too much to handle. If so, don't be afraid to seek out debt relief options to help you get your finances back in order. Credit counseling provides the financial tools you need to manage debt, but be wary of any agencies that charge excessive upfront fees. You may also consider debt consolidation, which bundles different types of debt into one package with a lower interest rate. If your situation is particularly dire, you might consider bankruptcy. If so, talk with an experienced lawyer to determine whether it's the right option for you. 

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