You try to go it alone
If someone finds themselves struggling with debt or even not fully understanding their finances, the biggest management mistake is trying to go it alone, Cunningham says.
"We have this mentality of pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps," Cunningham says. "Just don't wait too long (to get help). All that does is make the problem deeper and more difficult to resolve."
Cunningham says she tells families struggling with debt to have a family meeting and tell the children. "Don't distress the children, but they're going to know there's a family change," she says. She says they may have ideas or be able to help in cutting back spending.
Lassner says she's met many people in her bankruptcy practice who are proud and don't want to admit they've failed. She says it's important that consumers be honest with themselves about when they need help and to not just rely on searching the Web for answers.
She says if people feel like they have been treading water for more than two straight months, it's time to talk to a professional. If you don't know where to turn, the NFCC has a list of community-based counseling offices.
"You owe it to yourselves to have a conversation and not be afraid of it," she says.