Lots of people have debt, but it’s mainly a problem if you can’t pay it back. That’s when debt starts to hurt your credit – and when you might start hearing from debt collectors. You can turn it around, but it takes time. And there are people who can help you get out of debt – but choose carefully.


  • Start with the basics: make a budget for the month. Then stick to it. Look for ways to spend less. Put that money toward paying down your debt.
  • Contact your lenders. Call the company you owe money to, tell them why you can’t pay, and ask if you can pay less each month. If you have a student loan from the government, contact the Department of Education at Studentaid.ed.gov or 1-800-4FED-AID (1-800-433-3243)
  • Talk to your PFM. Ask for help, or a referral to a certified credit counselor.  You also can get legitimate help from a credit union, local university, or the US Cooperative Extension Service. The best certified credit counselors won’t promise to fix all your problems or charge you a lot of money before doing anything.   
  • Interview the certified credit counselor before you sign up. The best ones won’t promise to fix all your problems. They also won’t charge you money before they do anything. Ask them:
    • What will you do to help me?
    • How much do you charge?
    • Do you have free education and information?
    • Are you licensed to work here?
  • Your credit counselor can help you call companies where you owe money. Some companies let you pay less every month if it helps you pay your bills.


Tools for Personal Financial Managers