It may sound like a comedy routine opener, but for
lots of people it's definitely not a laughing matter.
Many who are weighed down with debt opt first for
self-help, trimming back on spending and keeping a close eye on
accounts. But much like losing weight, some people have the willpower
to shed a few pounds on their own while others require the help
of a personal trainer.
When do you need to call in a financial fitness expert?
Here are 15 instances that could indicate that your balances are
getting the better of you and that credit counseling might help:
1. Your credit card balances are rising while
your income is decreasing.
2. You are only paying the minimum amounts
required on your accounts, or maybe even less than the minimums.
3. You're juggling bills. For example, you
apply for another credit card and use cash advances from it to
pay an existing card.
4. You have more credit cards than a successful
gambler has poker chips.
5. You are at or perilously near the limit
on each of your credit cards.
6. You consistently charge more each month
than you make in payments.
7. You are working overtime to keep up with
your credit card payments.
8. You don't know how much you owe and really
don't want to find out.
9. You have received phone calls or letters
about delinquent bill payments.
10. You are using your credit card to buy
necessities like food or gasoline.
11. Your credit cards are no longer used
for the sake of convenience, but because you don't have money.
12. You are dipping into savings or your
IRA to pay your monthly bills.
13. You are hiding the true cost of your
purchases from your spouse.
14. You're playing the card game by signing
up for every credit card that sends you an unsolicited offer.
15. You have just lost your job, or
are fearful that you are about to, and are concerned about how
you will pay all your bills.