Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Flushing Out Your Financial Funk

Are you hiding purchases from your spouse? Do you pay the minimum credit card payment? Does your home echo with money arguments? If so, you could be in a financial funk. Here's how to get the funk out of your house.

by Broderick Perkins
© 2008 DeadlineNews.Com

Deadline Newsroom - Bury your head in the sand when faced with financial trouble and you'll only compound matters.

Not only will your tough luck continue and likely worsen, your eyes will really smart from all those tiny, gritty particles.

But seriously, the point is, doing nothing, procrastinating and clinging to denial will work against the fast action necessary when your financials get scrambled.

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) says Americans habitually turn their backs on signs they could be facing a financial meltdown instead of quickly getting the help they need.

To help them home in on -- instead of copping out of -- their financial funk, the foundation suggests taking a test to help recognize when professional help could be warranted.

Answer "true" or "false".

1. I squeeze out only the minimum credit card amount due.

2. My credit card balances swell each month.

3. Money arguments echo through my home.

4. I lie and hide purchases from my spouse.

5. I now charge stuff I used to pay for with hard cash.

6. I've considered bankruptcy.

7. I use cash advances to meet my obligations.

8. Most of my credit cards are maxed out and I'm applying for more plastic.

9. I have no idea what I owe.

10. I'm a deadbeat. I take a month off paying my bills sometimes, or I pay late.

11. I have zero dinero in the bank.

12. Thoughts of debt consume me.

13. My debt interferes with my job and my home life.

14. Collectors are stalking me.

15. I'm cracking retirement nest eggs to satisfy debts.

16. If I get fired, I would be financially doomed.

17. I use balance transfers.

18. I have no emergency savings.

19. Last months bills still haunt me when this month's bills arrive.

20. I avoid opening my bills.

Answer "true" to more than two or three of those questions and it's time to call for reinforcements, say a credit counselor or other financially savvy professional who can help you get a handle on your financial failing, says Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the NFCC.

The first step toward a financially stable tomorrow is facing your situation head on today -- now.

"Whether the problem stems from a lack of financial education, financial mismanagement, concerns over meeting the mortgage payment, or if bankruptcy is being considered, sitting down with a trained third party will add insight to the situation," said Cunningham.

The NFCC as well as the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies (AICCCA) can get you a referral.

Other help is available from a host of groups, including NeighborWorks of America; Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN); U.S. Department Of Housing and Urban Development; and local community and social service programs.

More ways to cope during the mortgage meltdown and housing bust are available from DeadlineNews.Com's Post Boom Survival Guide

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© 2008 DeadlineNews.Com

Broderick Perkins, an award-winning consumer journalist of 30 years, is publisher and executive editor of San Jose, CA-based DeadlineNews.Com, a real estate news and consulting service, and the new Deadline Newsroom, DeadlineNews.Com's new backshop. In both cases, it's where all the news really hits home.

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