Don’t wait until your accounts have been turned over to a debt collector.At that point, your creditors have given up on you.You can find information about budgeting and money management techniques online, at your public library, and in bookstores.

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If you can't do this, the creditor may sell the car.

If you see default approaching, you may be better off selling the car yourself and paying off the debt: You'll avoid the added costs of repossession and a negative entry on your credit report.

The first step toward taking control of your financial situation is to do a realistic assessment of how much money you take in and how much money you spend. Then, list your "fixed" expenses — those that are the same each month — like mortgage payments or rent, car payments, and insurance premiums.

Next, list the expenses that vary — like groceries, entertainment, and clothing.

Depending on the type of service, you might get advice on how to deal with your mounting bills or create a plan for repaying your creditors.

Before you do business with any debt relief service, check it out with your state Attorney General and local consumer protection agency.Whether the crisis is caused by personal or family illness, the loss of a job, or overspending, it can seem overwhelming. Your financial situation doesn’t have to go from bad to worse.If you or someone you know is in financial hot water, consider these options: self-help using realistic budgeting and other techniques; debt relief services, like credit counseling or debt settlement from a reputable organization; debt consolidation; or bankruptcy. It depends on your level of debt, your level of discipline, and your prospects for the future.If you and your lender can’t work out a plan, contact a housing counseling agency.Some agencies limit their counseling services to homeowners with FHA mortgages, but many offer free help to any homeowner who’s having trouble making mortgage payments.Some lenders may reduce or suspend your payments for a short time.