If overwhelming debt is causing you stress, you are not alone. Millions of Americans are suffering from anxiety and depression because they have difficulty paying their financial obligations.
Whatever the cause of the debt—be it over-spending, salary reduction, or emergency expenses such as medical bills—the action you take to beat the "bill blues" is the same.
- Talk about it. If you are depressed about money problems, you may feel alone. Yet the moment you begin to discuss it, you will find you are not only in immense company, but that discussing it can make you feel a lot better. If you feel your "debting" is compulsive, you may want to talk to the professionals at Debtors Anonymous. Log on to www.debtorsanonymous.org or call 800-421-2383 to find a meeting near you.
- Put it in perspective. Do you have your health? The love and support from friends and family? Focus on the good things that are happening in your life. It's hard, but you are going to need to be optimistic to make positive changes.
- Confront the problem. Rather than hiding from bill collectors, regain control by answering the calls. Be calm and rational. Understand the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, a law that protects your rights as a consumer. Write to your creditors to explain your situation. Include what led to the problem (even if it was your "fault") and how you plan to fix it.
- Fight inertia. Doing nothing, while easier than taking action, will get you nowhere. Get up and get out, but resist the urge to shop if your spending is out of hand. If you are already loaded down with debt and keep receiving offers for more credit cards in the mail, destroy them and throw them away. Consider removing your name from promotional lists by visiting www.optoutprescreen.com or by calling 888-5-OPTOUT (888-567-8688).
- Prioritize your spending. Chances are, there are some expenses you can reduce or cut out that can immediately relieve some of the pressure. Review your spending plan and eliminate expenses that aren't absolutely essential. Prioritize according to necessity - basic needs such as food, housing, utilities and children's expenses come first, and everything else after those.
Looking for additional advice for getting and staying out of debt? Download our free eGuide, Financial First Aid, that'll show you what you need to do to get your financial life healthy again.
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