The first and most important thing to decide is what do you want to save most? Your credit rating, your house or your lifestyle? Let's start with life style. If you want to save your lifestyle take a good look around your neighborhood. Are there nicer houses for rent for less than your mortgage? Are you upside down in your mortgage? Go look at houses for rent while your credit is still ok. Lock yourself into a two year lease and dump the house. That will save you a lot of money. Use the extra money to continue paying down your debt. Don't buy more things, and in two years your credit won't look so bad. If all else fails, explain your lapse as "It was 2010, everyone was defaulting!" I highly suspect that in the future the whole credit score thing will be revamped because so few people have avoided problems. The key to maintaining your lifestyle is to stop getting into deeper debt. The bleeding has to stop. Be realistic in your assessment of income. Conventional wisdom says to pay off debt. That IS true if you have a salary job that you feel will provide you with a consistent salary. If your life is more fragile, you need to get away from putting stuff on credit. Pay the minimum on your credit cards only, and focus on having savings intact to pay for unexpected expenses. Which brings me to option two, what if saving your house is top on the agenda. If you are not upside down on it, which some people are not. I'm not, I just couldn't afford the mortgage itself after my husband left me. Rather than letting your credit tank in hopes of getting a mortgage adjustment consider renting your whole house to someone who can pay your mortgage and moving into something smaller yourself. If you still have a job there's no harm in exploring the possibility of refinance. Rates are low. If you can lock into a 15 year flat rate your will save thousands and thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. If you consider renting part of your house, consider first if there is an inexpensive way to remodel that provides for private access. It will raise the value of your house over all plus make it more attractive to potential long term renters. If you are thinking of just renting a room in your house, check in your local paper what the going rate is for a room. Ask yourself if the loss of privacy is worth it. Consider the increase in utilities and wear and tear on the house itself. Budget! No one likes that word. Like "diet" it isn't necessary once you establish a healthy lifestyle. Spend less than you earn. That simple. If you don't want to pinch pennies or keep track then do everything cash. When the cash is over you're done. It's very visual. Most bills ARE predictable. If you can't make your basic monthly bills on your basic income its time to make some tough calls. Decide which credit cards you are going to stop paying, and stop. Don't cave because the bill collectors call you. Don't stress over the threats. Start paying for everything from now on, CASH. In two years, you'll feel much safer. If what you want to save most is your credit rating than be sure to pay everything on time every month. Keep the ratio of your outstanding debt as low as possible compared to the credit limit on your cards. Don't worry about paying things off fast, your credit will be fine as long as you stick to the program and pay one time. Attack the cards one by one, try to pay off the one that will effect your life the most first. If this is the one with the highest interest rate fine, but it might be the one with the largest monthly payment. Be honest with your assessment. Once you decide what you are going to focus on, pay only the minimum on the others. Establish a savings account for unexpected expenses. Look at where you can cut back. Do you need all the premium channels on TV or can you switch to unlimited plan Netflix? Learn to cook from scratch, a potato costs a lot less per pound than a prepared TV dinner. It's healthier for you too. Can you buy premium coffee and make it at home rather than going to Starbucks every morning. Be honest with what you are not willing to give up. Life should not be torture. In reality, one dinner out a week might be worth it if it keeps you from feeling broke. Go the nicest place you can afford. Don't go to places you can't afford.