A guarantee: If you have money troubles and it becomes known, you are a bigger target for scammers.

If you face your problems head-on, you will be able to get a grip.

You might receive a check in the mail offering "free" money to help you out! Sounds like good Samaritans at work, right? Or maybe it's just more money trouble waiting to happen, courtesy of those dear scammers.

Before we get into that, let's first think about what it means to be in money trouble... It could mean any of the following:

  • You have maxed out your credit card(s)
  • You're 30 days late on a payment(s)
  • Your phone has been deactivated
  • Your lights or other utilities have been shut off

These things can be pretty bad. But it could get a lot worse, if you aren't careful—and if you don't take control of your problems by being financially smart and savvy.

To Start

If you're in money trouble, and haven't read our "high interest loans" article yet, do it now. Reading about this topic will help you to avoid getting into even more money trouble.

Next

Stay away from the check rip-offs!

The companies who offer the "free checks in the mail" scam are not the good saints. They're actually high-interest loan companies preying on people who need real help, not another punch in their financial gut, as noted in this Washington Post article.

These kinds of companies target you when you are at your weakest—and right about when you really need to make difficult but smart financial decisions.

So, what to do when you're really in a financial jam? TCU Financial Empowerment Program has a few resources to help you. Start with this plan:

  • First, don't deny your troubles. Ignoring money problems and bills only creates more stress and bigger issues.

  • Second, do not fall for promises to wipe out your credit card or other debt—from any individual or company. And be sure to decline or discard the "free" loan checks.

  • Third, organize your debt! Jot down all the financial strains you have, and make a budget. From your mortgage, your car loan to your student loans, and from credit card debt to other retail loans. Dig into our debt resources to see if any of our solutions apply to your situation. Chances are, they may really help!

  • Fourth, find a person and/or an institution that is the most likely to want to help you, not take advantage of you. We believe a good credit union should be that anchor source. Financial counselors could help, too, but if you take this route, we recommend you watch our video on that.

So, there's your plan.

Face Your Problems Head-On

Though it only takes these four steps, this path can be more difficult for some. By taking it seriously and staying disciplined, you can eliminate or reduce your money troubles. At the very least, you will avoid multiplying them. Even though money trouble may seem like the end of the world, if you face your problems head-on, you will be able to get a grip.

Remember: Create structure, make a plan, and stick to it. Good luck!

Cheers, Will