HELP!! SF, 38, no kids, $10,000 in debt, behind even on minimum payments. I need somebody to help me make a plan to get out of debt in a realistic way? I am not asking for the money just some free financial planning/debt counseling help. Anyone willing to help me?

OK first speak to all your debtors. Explain to them what’s going on and ask if you can come to some arrangement to reduce your repayments or the level of your debt. Most companies are quite amenable as they would rather have some of it paid willingly than have a bad debt on there hands.

Don’t be tempted by a consolidation loan unless you have absolutely no choice, in the long term this increases your debt. You may be offered lower monthly repayments but it will nearly always be over a longer period.

Then work out a realistic budget, look at ways you can trim your spending. Once when we were really strapped for cash I started a spending diary, every penny and I mean every penny we spent was written down. You’d be surprised at where you might find opportunities to reduce spending. Accept that for a while you may have to stop doing some of the things you enjoy like socialising. Trim your spending to the absolute essentials only but remember that it is just temporary. Any spare cash should be used to reducing your debt. I found the spending diary a useful to to create a realistic monthly budget and it enable me to keep a much better control on our spending.

You could also consider whether taking a second job for a short while is an option for you. Obviously it isn’t possible for everybody but it could help.

Set yourself a goal by which you want to be debt free and that will help keep you focus so that you don’t feel you are being lost in a sea of debt with no hope of getting out.

Good luck.