If it does, you are not alone. More and more families are finding that they are unable to make even the minimum payments on many of their monthly bills. Credit card payments rank at the top of the list simply because the interest rates are so high that making just a minimum monthly payment means you are going to be paying that bill for many years to come. You are noticing that other expenditures are rising, also. Groceries cost more, it is costing you much more for gas just to get to your job, and utilities have taken a sharp increase. The only trouble is that your wages have not increased to keep up, and in many cases, have decreased if you have either lost your job, or had your hours cut due to “downsizing.”

You are beginning to realize that you are never going to “catch up” at the rate you are going now, and in fact, you can see yourself falling further and further behind. Bankruptcy is beginning to look like the only way out from under the mounds of debt you now have. Before you take this drastic step, look into other options that are available to help you out of your present situation. Perhaps you have seen advertisements on television about credit counseling services, and what they offer. While some of them may be perfectly legitimate, “look before you leap.” Don’t take everything they say they can do at face value. They cannot erase your debt! If this is what they claim, steer clear of this company, because they can’t do this.

There are solid, reputable credit counseling services that can offer you the assistance you need to learn how to manage your present financial predicament. Before you choose one of them, take the time to research the background of the company, and check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there have been any complaints registered. Contact the service and ask for a written statement of the policies, terms, fees, and conditions before you sign up. Remember that you will be submitting sensitive financial and personal information, and you need assurance that this information is confidential and secure. Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous companies operating under the guise of a credit counseling service just to get their hands on your information and steal your identity.
Caution is the key.

Once you have located a service that you are confident about, gather all your financial information before you schedule an appointment. Remember, even if this is a ‘non-profit’ organization, there may still be a fee for the services. Make sure you find out what is expected of you beforehand, and what it is going to cost you. Once you have everything you need, make an appointment to see a credit counselor. This is the person who is going to be assigned to your case, and the one you will be working with while you are in the program. He or she will look over your information and make suggestions to you about what it is you should do to improve your financial picture.

Many times, the counselor will take into consideration the amount of money you are bringing in, and what is being paid out before offering advice or deciding on an option that will best suit your current financial situation. It may be anything from learning how to manage your money and live on a budget, to consolidating your bills into one monthly payment, (the credit counselor will negotiate with your creditors for you) to entering into a debt management program. How deeply in debt you actually are, and whether you are financially able to handle the bills will have an effect on which program you can participate in. All this will be explained to you when you visit the credit counseling office and speak to a counselor.

You can find many of these services online if there doesn’t happen to be one located near you. Research each company carefully and thoroughly before choosing the one that seems to offer you exactly what you need. All of your transactions can then be conducted over the internet or phone, if you wish.

Author's Bio: 

Family Life Credit Services uses faith-based principles and educational materials to equip clients to overcome their financial challenges. Family Life Credit Services (FLCS) counselors do not judge clients based on their past financial situations. Counselors rather use those past circumstances to encourage changes in client’s financial habits to ensure future financial success.