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5 Must Do's
1.Know your
credit score
2. Find the average
home equity loan
rates in your area
3.Get a lower rate
4. Are you a candidate for counseling?
5.Evaluate choices
for consolidation



Ask BankrateCoping with a job loss and mounting bills -- Do's and don'ts for dealing with financial difficulties.

Dangers of debt consolidation -- Before you bundle your bills, check out the pros and cons of these consolidation options.

In need of a financial SOS? -- If personal debts are bringing you down, reach out for help.

Payday lenders a problem for the military -- High-interest loans plus low-paid servicemen and women add up to trouble.

Making debt collectors play fair -- Know your legal rights.
Plus: 10 ways to fight back against debt collectors

Guide to Managing CreditIn a credit crunch? -- How to tell if you need the professional guidance of a credit counselor.

Make a money-smart spending plan -- Stretch your income with planning.

Defeating debt requires personal change -- Loans are not the only solution.

Tools for managing money -- Speedy calculators to guide your saving and spending.

When a debt collector targets an old debt -- Just because you've put that unpaid bill behind you doesn't mean you can forget about it.
PLUS: With old debt, know your limits
AND: How to handle a collection mistake

3 ways to consolidate credit card debts -- Ditch the high fees and interest rates.

Debt Pay-Down Adviser-- What's the fastest and cheapest way to pay down your debts?

How to pick a credit counselor -- Key questions to ask before agreeing to the services.

Using a 401(k) to consolidate debt -- How to tap your retirement account.


Which is right for you -- a home equity loan or line of credit? This Ask Bankrate calculator suggests your best move.

Transferring a balance to a cheaper credit card -- Lower rates sound good, but move cautiously.

Quiz: Are you financially self-destructive? -- Discover if your psychology sabotages your finances.

Settlement isn't debt consolidation -- Negotiating your way out of debt.

Beware these home equity scams -- Stripping, flipping and packing are three of the common deceptions in the home equity lending market.

Home Equity Loans 101 -- A step-by-step guide for tapping your home's equity.
Plus: Home equity glossary

Consolidating student loans
Good time to consolidate student loans -- You may want to lock in your rate. Inerest rates on federal student loans have dipped to an all-time low.

Cash in on consolidation -- Interested in lumping all your loans together at one low rate? Here's how student loan consolidation works.
Plus: 10 things student borrowers need to know

More debt consolidation stories

eMoney Guide

Controlling your money online
Getting there, places to visit, things to do.
See Also
Graph: Three-month HELOC trend
Find the best rates in the nation
How we get rate averages
Track prime rate, other leading rates
Home equity story archives
Home equity basics
Home equity glossary

You're in debt.
You don't want to be.
Get out.
And don't go back.
Debt Consolidation Guide
Home Improvement
Get the biggest bang for your home improvement buck with Bankrate's Guide to Home Improvement. You'll find tips from pro remodelers, advice on the best ways to finance and more.
More good stuff
Find a loan even if you have less-than-perfect credit

Calculate your payment on any loan (includes amortization schedule)
Should you refinance your mortgage?
How much can you afford for a home?
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