April is Financial Literacy Month and if you are a consumer that is struggling to meet your financial obligations, this is a chance for you to educate yourself on ways you can improve your financial health. There are so many ways available to consumers to get back on track and not be in debt anymore. It just takes a little commitment on your part and a willingness to free yourself from the burden of debt. Understand that there is hope in improving your finances and that with a little work you can get rid of the stress associated with being in debt.

Here are three important steps that you must take if you are a consumer that is struggling with the burden of debt.

Understand where you can find help

We know one thing when it comes to consumers that are struggling with debt. Many either do not know where to turn, or they hesitate to take the necessary steps to get the help they need. Maybe some consumers are embarrassed or they think the situation will just go away. If you are a consumer struggling with debt, understand that there have been many people who have been in your exact situation and it is nothing to be ashamed of. Ups and downs are part of life and at one time or another, many of us struggle with meeting our financial demands.Know My Debt

Know My Debt

The good news is there is ample help out there to get you back on track. One of the best resources you can get better acquainted with your finances is the website Know My Debt created by ACA International. Know My Debt has an extensive library of articles and resources that cover many areas of consumer debt, improving credit scores, and tips for working with a collection agency. You can also find a whole host of advice on navigating your rights as a consumer. There is no better place to get educated on your financial situation and find ways to improve it than Know My Debt.

If you get a call from a collection agency, call them back

Never be afraid to have a respectful dialogue with a debt collector. Yes, they are contacting you because most likely you owe a business money. Calling them back has many benefits to you as a consumer. Ignoring that communication only sets your situation back and makes it more complicated.

Having a meaningful discussion with a professionally trained collector can help you in a number of ways. First, you can begin the process of resolving the debt that has been hanging over you. A professionally trained collector will analyze your situation and together the both of you can come up with a way to pay that debt off without further hurting you financially. You’ll also be able to minimize any damage to your credit rating by taking care of unpaid debt.

However, one reason not many people think of is the fact that this may not be your debt at all. When you speak to a professional collector, you have the opportunity to validate that debt or dispute it. You may not owe the money at all and it could be an error. But you’ll never find out unless you pick up the phone. Also, debt collectors can help you identify if you are a victim of identity theft. Again, speaking to a collector can help you stop this.

But let’s be clear. If you do owe the money, it’s your obligation to work with that collector to come up with a plan to pay it off.

Commit to improving your financial situation today.

If you and your family have been struggling to pay off debts, it’s time to make a commitment to improving your financial health. In many cases, even small steps can make a big difference when it comes to improving your finances. Consistently paying your bills on time as well as chipping away at other debts such as credit cards and other commitments can make a vast difference in your finances over time. If you owe a business money and are challenged with paying your obligation in full, work with that business to create a payment structure that meets both your demands. The same goes for working with a debt collector. You can amicably work out a payment plan that helps you pay off the debt and gets the business paid.

Other ways to make a commitment are to put a little extra on your credit card payment each month and even set up autopay with your online banking so you never miss a payment. Even an extra $50 a month on your credit cards can make a big difference over time.

Commitment to good financial health is also changing the way you work with the businesses that owe you money. Committing to paying them on time as well as communicating when you need to set up other arrangements is key.

If you are a consumer that needs to address ongoing debt, check out the website Know My Debt and get your financial health back on track!