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Deeply in debt -- Your debts are hanging around your neck like a yoke. Use these strategies to lighten the load and free yourself from the bonds of debt.

Topics: Counseling and bankruptcy, After the damage is done, How deep is your debt?, Dealing with too much debt, Love and debt, Know your cards

T O N  O F  D E B T

 Credit counseling and bankruptcy 
The basics of bankruptcy -- You don't want to declare bankruptcy. But if you must, do it right.

What's coming in new bankruptcy law -- Congress will once again take up changes in the bankruptcy law. What will it mean for consumers?

How to pick a credit-counseling firm -- You're going to be letting them handle your money. Choose wisely.

Some credit counselors helping themselves -- Growing industry attracting scam artists who rip off the vulnerable.
PLUS: How to pick a credit-counseling firm
AND: How debt management affects your credit
MORE: What to ask a credit counselor

Advance-fee scams: The big con -- Vulnerable consumers are falling prey to Canadian con artists promising loans to pay off debts and rebuild credit.

Monitoring the credit monitoring services -- Can they protect your credit, or do they just cost you money?

 After the damage is done 
Borrowing with lousy credit -- If at first you don't succeed, try, try another lender. But expect to pay more.

5 ways to improve your credit -- So, you've made mistakes. These steps will help you restore the luster to your credit rating.

Why you should check your credit report -- If you are applying for a loan or credit, records of your previous dealings with some else's money are vital.

Can you read your credit report? -- OK, you got your credit report just like everyone says you should. Here's how to read it.

Correcting errors on your credit report -- Follow these steps to get errors removed from your credit reports.

Contacting the credit bureaus -- Here are the addresses and Web sites for the big three credit reporting agencies.

13 myths about credit reports -- When it comes to credit information, what you think you know that isn't true can really hurt you.

 How deep is your debt? 
15 signs you need debt-reduction help -- These signals let you know it's time to call in a financial fitness expert.

FAQ about overwhelming debts -- When debt is rising out of control, these tips will help you cope.

Good debt vs. bad debt -- A mortgage is usually good debt. Buying more clothes you don't need on credit is not.

Quiz: Are you financially self-destructive -- These questions will help you discover if your psychology sabotages your finances.

 Dealing with too much debt 
Making a money-smart spending plan -- Do you fail every time you try to budget? Then don't say the "B" word, which reeks of self-deprivation. Say "spending plan" instead, and use it to help you get what you want.

Cures for post-holiday debt remorse -- 8 solutions for dealing with your spending demons.

Late with one creditor? All will punish you -- A trend in the financial industry is for Company X to jack up your rates because you were late to pay Company Y.

Falling behind? Call your mortgage lender -- If a job loss or other financial crisis hits, don't hide from your mortgage company. Most would rather work with you than foreclose.

Cash-out refinancing: a way out of debt -- If your debt load is getting too big, refinance your mortgage for more than you owe, and pay down debt with the difference.

Tax advantages of cash-out refinancing -- The big one is that you can convert your debt into one that is tax deductible.

Garnishment: the unexpected pay cut -- If you don't pay your taxes, child support or other debts, creditors can tap your paycheck.

Dealing with a debt collector -- They can try to collect legitimate debts, but there are legal limits on how they do it.

 Love and debt 
Men and women spend and save differently -- The sexes exhibit distinct gender traits when saving, investing and spending.

Debt and marriage: a dangerous mix -- These strategies will help you work through debt without ending up in divorce.

Borrowing from family -- It's uncomfortable, but sometimes it's your only option. Here's how to get a loan from a relative without turning the family tree into kindling.

 Know your cards 
Reading credit card offer fine print -- The big letters on the envelope may say "You've been approved!" but make sure you know what you're agreeing to.

Reading a credit card statement -- Not knowing how to read it can cost you money.
PLUS: Figuring finance charges

Understanding secured cards -- If you have never had credit or are trying to rebuild it, you can buy your way to a better credit rating by responsibly handling a secured card.

How to cancel a credit card -- Be careful when closing an account, or it may come back to haunt you.

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