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Your Credit and the Holidays

Where to go for mortgage and debt help

What You Should Know About Debt Settlement

Create a plan to deal with medical debt

Options for Higher Education

Back-to-School Strategies for Staying Out of Debt

Will Changes in Credit Reporting Affect You?

What to do if your medical bills are turned over to collections

What to do if your spouse can't pay his or her bills

What to do when a family member ruins your credit

Homeownership is possible

What you need to know about the IRS and collection agencies

Will being turned down for a store credit card hurt my credit?

Beware of credit repair

Debt Management versus Debt Settlement

How to get ahead of late fees

Is There a Service That Helps You Not Pay Bills

Is a Debt Owed

Patience is the key to furnishing a new home

How to split expenses with your partner

Will my boyfriend's bad credit affect me?

Tax filing options to consider

What to do if your account is turned over to collections

Celebrating Valentine's Day on a budget

Personal Credit and Starting a Business

Finding Money to Reduce Your Debt and Improve Your Credit

Simple Keys to Personal Finance

Be vigilant to avoid telephone and internet scams

Debt Settlement

Understanding credit utilization

Setting New Year's goals that you can keep

The pros and cons of skipping a payment

Strategies for Financially Surviving the Holidays

Creating a fun and memorable holiday on a budget

Keep an open line of communication with parents about their finances.

Make a Choice to Get Ahead Financially

What to do when a relative asks you for money

Should You Buy a Home Now or Wait?

The difference between debt settlement and debt management

Tax Refund Delays for some in 2017

The negative impact of paying a payment 30 days late

Stressed by Finances

How to navigate two significant financial decisions: starting a family and buying a home

How to advise someone close to you who is coming into a significant amount of money

Make a Conscious Decision on How to Spend Your Money

Tips for Back-to-School Shopping

How do you know if you have a good credit score?

Americans spend more money eating out than on groceries

Having Good Credit Saves You Money

Developing good money habits with your first job

How to save for a home

How to Know if you are Ready for Home Ownership

When is the right time to buy a home?

You can improve your credit to buy a home

Plan a Memorable Vacation Without Incurring Debt

The Hidden Costs of Payday Loans

Be Wary of Credit Repair Services

Use Caution when playing the credit card game

What does it mean to say bankruptcy gives you a clean slate?

How your credit is affected by various debt options

Be wary of predatory small business loans

What to do if you fall behind on mortgage payments

Financing a College Education

Money, Credit and Relationships

Should you be concerned with your date's credit scores?

Best options for a small, short-term loan

How to help a relative who is always borrowing money from you

Setting New Year's goals that you can keep

Making the holidays memorable for families on a tight budget.

Skipping a Payment over the Holidays

What to do if you are overwhelmed by medical bills

Make your financial intention a financial goal you can achieve

Should Consumers Use the New EMV Cards?

What to do when a collector calls you

The difference between paying bills and managing your money

My wife and I have gone through some tough financial times, which eventually led us to file for bankruptcy.  Following this experience, I don’t ever want to use credit again, but my wife

What do I need to know to pay ahead on my mortgage?

What to do if you get an unsolicited credit card in the mail

What to do when moving in to share expenses doesn't work out

How to get ahead of late fees

Q. Some of my creditors are charging me late fees on my accounts. I’m frustrated that most of what I pay gets eaten up by fees and that I fall further behind as a result. What can I do to get out of this cycle?

A. All creditors have their own policies and procedures that govern how they handle late fees and payments. Some creditors have special programs that can help you bring your payment current. These programs come with specific guidelines, so not everyone will qualify for them.

At the very least, you will need to explain why you have been late on your payments. You may also have to fill out a new financial statement and provide your creditors with additional information before you qualify for assistance. You won’t know what’s available to you, however, unless you take the time to contact your creditors.

If it turns out that your creditors don’t have a relief program, you need to develop a plan to bring your accounts current on your own. Start by pulling out all of your statements and recording how much you are past due on each of your accounts. Make a list of each account, the amount you are past due and the date that you will need to pay the balance owing. Sometimes, seeing everything laid out in front of you can make a task seem less daunting.

As you consider how to resolve your past due debts, resist the urge to reallocate money you usually use to make other payments; to do so is to trade one set of problems for another. Instead, you need to find a way to increase your income or reduce your expenses.

This might involve using part of your tax refund, getting a part-time job, working some overtime hours or selling something that you no longer need or use. Cutting out unnecessary spending on incidentals, consolidating your errands and sticking to a menu can help free up cash, too. While you’re working on getting your accounts current, refuse to be complacent about your spending—even small amounts of cash add up.

While it’s frustrating to see most or all of your payment going to fees, you must resolve to bring your accounts current by all means possible. If you don’t, you will fall further behind and your fees will continue to mount, making it even more difficult for you to dig yourself out of debt.

Bonnie Spain is the executive director of the American Center for Credit Education and Consumer Credit Counseling Service of the Black Hills. For more information, email acce@acce-online.com.

The material in this transmission is provided for personal, non-commercial, educational, and informational purposes only. ACCE makes no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this transmission and assumes no responsibility for errors, inaccuracies, omissions, or any inconsistency herein. You should consult a professional where appropriate.