Is it time to ask for help getting rid of all that debt crushing you down? Find out now.

Some debts can seem insurmountable, like student loans that threaten to haunt you for life. Maybe credit card balances fail to shrink, no matter how diligently you make minimum monthly payments, the only payments you can afford. Now, even making your car payment has become a struggle.

If that’s the case, don’t despair. There is help available if you’re having trouble paying off debt. But how do you know when it’s time to seek financial advice or assistance with paying debt that’s been dogging you?

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1. Paying off your debt seems impossible

Paying off some debts, especially high-balance student loans, can seem impossible. If you can’t imagine eventually arriving at a zero balance, you probably need help figuring out how to pay a debt.

If you have federal student loans, contact the loan servicer about consolidating multiple loans and/or arranging a payment plan with an end in sight. Or, if your debt stems from a pricey car you can’t afford, you may need help selling the vehicle and replacing it with one that’s more affordable.

2. You pay a lot but make little or no progress

If you’re making monthly payments, but your credit card balances drop only slightly, you’re not making large enough payments to knock down the principal after paying interest. Do you have so many credit card or loan payments due each month that your paycheck is spread too thin?

Maybe it’s time to seek financial guidance from a nonprofit credit counselor who can show you how to create a monthly budget and help with a strategy for which debts to pay off first.

3. You struggle to pay basic living expenses

You struggle to pay basic living expenses

Are you paying the rent late because most of your paycheck goes toward credit cards, loans or medical bills? If you’re struggling to pay monthly expenses, a meeting with a nonprofit credit counselor could be in order. However, even your creditors may be a source of help.

Contact your credit card issuer and ask to change the card’s due date so payment isn’t due the same week as rent. Try to negotiate a lower interest rate so the balance doesn’t grow as quickly. If medical bills are the problem, contact the hospital or doctor’s billing office about a payment plan with lower payments.

4. You’re taking out additional credit to pay debt

You're taking out additional credit to pay debt

It’s not usually a good idea to take out one loan to pay off another loan that paid an even earlier loan. And it’s a terrible idea to hand over the title of your car in exchange for a title loan or get a payday loan so you have enough to make monthly payments to all your creditors.

If you can’t pay the debt you already have without going deeper in debt, it’s time to seek counseling from a nonprofit credit counseling agency that has your best interests – not its own profit margin – in mind.

5. You have a pattern of having too much debt

You have a pattern of having too much debt

If you have a history of racking up too much debt over and over – even after you pay off every balance and promise to never relapse again – you may need to ask for help from more than one source.

A nonprofit credit counselor can help you analyze spending habits, create a monthly budget and establish a debt payoff plan. At the same time, it may also be a good idea to consider seeing a therapist who can help you understand your self-destructive financial patterns so you can stop repeating them.

6. Someone else paid off your previous debt

Someone else paid off your previous debt

If your parents paid off your $30,000 credit card debt three years ago, and now you owe even more, their generosity may have made paying off debt seem easy. This time, though, they may not be so eager.

If you’re counting on someone to bail you out again, consider how it worked out the first time. If you want to get rid of the new debt – and suffer enough in the process to never rack up that much debt again – there’s only one person who can help this time: You.

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About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.

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