It’s hard to think straight when you’re swimming in debt. But there is a way out. Just like Luke Skywalker, you can take control of your situation by taking charge despite your fears and insecurities.

There are several things that you should not do when facing mounting debts. The biggest one is to avoid the situation. That means that you should not even think of ignoring your creditors. It’s easy to ruin your credit and hard to rebuild it. You should also never borrow more money to pay the minimum payments. “Robbing Peter to pay Paul” sets up a fragile house of cards that surely will fall apart.

Be proactive about facing the situation. Sit down and calculate the total debt. The make a list of creditors with addresses and phone numbers, the total amount owed to each, and the rate of interest. This debt consolidation sheet will come in handy.

First, you have to realistically calculate how much you can pay each month. Start by making a simple budget. If your debt is really out of control, you may want to seek professional help or credit counseling. Credit professionals can help to both negotiate more favorable repayment terms and reduce the principal of the debt. They can also help you work out a manageable spending plan to avoid this quagmire in the future.

If credit counseling is the route you choose, find an accredited credit counselor. Begin by calling the National Foundation for Credit Counseling for the name of a local not-for-profit credit center. They can call the Foundation at 1-800-388-2227 or visit []( ““) for more information.

May the financial force be with you.