The show: 2 Broke Girls
The situation: When Caroline Channing realizes that her roommate, Max Black, is dodging calls from collection agencies, she offers to help Max come up with a plan to repay her debt.
Caroline: "You can’t keep lying to collection agencies. You have to pay your bills."
Max: "I pay everyone $5 per week, just enough to keep them from freaking out."
Caroline: "That’s a waste of money. $5 won’t even cover the interest you’re accruing!"
The problem: During the conversation, Caroline realizes the biggest issue is that Max has no idea how much she owes.
The lesson: The "out of sight, out of mind" approach to financial management doesn’t work.
"Not paying your bills can ruin your credit," says Dorothy Barrick, a financial counselor for GreenPath Debt Solutions. "Until you start repaying (your debt), it will never go away — a collection agency can even garnish your wages."
It’s a good idea to order a copy of your credit report to see how much you owe. You’re entitled to a free report from the three major credit reporting agencies once a year through www.annualcreditreport.com.
Credit counseling agencies can help you create a repayment plan and will often work with creditors to lower your interest rates and establish manageable monthly payments. There is no need to wait until creditors start calling to ask for help, Barrick says.