So something has happened in your life — maybe you (or your partner) have become unemployed. Maybe illness has affected your household income. There are many ways we can reach a tipping point in our personal finances.

If you can’t support your debt load any more you may be wondering, “What now?”

There are three things you must know before you seek debt help services:

#1: Don’t consider services that will get you deeper into debt.

Yes, this one sounds kind of obvious but it’s amazing how many people will resort to services like payday loans or reverse mortgages. These ‘solutions’ may simply kick the can down the road a bit and can typically make things worse… more quickly.

Hope can be a dangerous strategy when applied to your finances. Hoping that you get a pay raise or an inheritance, or win the lottery, all have one thing in common — they don’t happen that often. What does happen often is… things don’t change for the better and your finances have continued to deteriorate.

Simply put, months of hope can lead to thousands of more dollars in debt. So, the bottom line for this tip is don’t go any further into debt. Seek professional help.

#2 Consolidating debt is an option but it may not be suitable for your situation.

Unfortunately, many people are sold the idea by companies that specialize in ‘debt consolidation.’ That’s natural enough — if you’re carrying a hammer you tend to treat everything you meet as if it were a nail. So don’t get ‘nailed’ by this one.

If it is not the solution you need, this kind of service can actually get you deeper in debt.  Because if you weren’t able to make minimum payments before the consolidation, how would consolidating it actually really help? In many cases, it doesn’t. So your finances continue to spiral down leading to more trouble.

Research carefully the options open to you and only use debt consolidation if it is really going to solve your problem long term. Speak with professionals who do not have a vested interest in you using this specific debt solution.

#3: Repaying the full amount owed may sound like the noble thing to do – but might not be practical or even possible.

Carefully consider any service that advocates repaying all of your debt. Credit counselling agencies typically advocate repaying your debts in full. Often this is not going to be enough help.

Reducing the debt load will.

Don’t allow anyone to make you feel guilty about your debts. Feeling guilty will not help anyone — especially you. Finding a realistic way to either reduce or eliminate your debt can provide you the fresh start that you need right now. You will have learned from your mistakes and can begin building a financially stable and sustainable future for yourself and your family.

The common theme of all three points is good research. It pays to talk to someone in Victoria who offers a wide range of solutions and who will guide you toward the solution that is best for you.

Licensed Insolvency Trustees (LITs) are licensed by the Canadian government to provide debt help to people just like you. They have access to the most comprehensive range of solutions to debt problems in Canada.

You can arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with an LIT at this page.

You have nothing to lose except perhaps the worry and stress that you have been carrying around for too long. Call right now and begin your own research.