Being in debt is never fun, no matter how big or small the sum you owe may be. But in the end, taking out loans is a perfectly legitimate way to address many problems in life that boil down to finances, and they’re a good tool that has been around for a very long time. Knowing how to manage your situation when you’re in debt is extremely important if you want to get out of it clean and ready to move on though.

Otherwise, you risk seeing this devolve into something much more challenging to manage. It’s easier than you might think to let this situation slip out of your control, so make sure that you’re prepared, and know exactly what to expect.

Understand Your Situation

The first thing you want to do is to take an honest look at your situation. How did you get here in the first place? Why did you need that loan? Are you in a position to repay it without any negative repercussions? These questions are the kind that some people really don’t want to answer honestly for themselves, but you have to do that if you want to ensure that you’ll be able to repay your debt properly and without any complications.

For example, don’t just assume that you have the ability to pay your debt – verify that through calculations. Many people make various assumptions about their situations that end up harming them in the long run, and they can often be avoided easily by just being more honest internally.

Request Validation

Sometimes, debt collectors might contact you erroneously, claiming that you owe sums that you have already paid off, or have never owed in the first place. It happens from time to time, and the reason is not usually malice, but rather confusion on the lender’s part. The point is, if you have any suspicion about the debt you’re being contacted for, request its validation from the lender. They should have the original contract on file, and if the debt is legitimate, then the situation should be cleared up pretty soon.

Once they’ve validated it though, make sure that you respond immediately and don’t delay your communication in any way. You might have some very short timelines to work with here, so don’t postpone anything.

Make It Clear You Want to Pay

You should also communicate it in no uncertain terms that you fully intend to pay back what you owe. Sometimes lenders might get confused about your intentions – especially if you remain quiet for too long, as we described above – and they might take actions to protect their assets. You might find yourself in a situation where the lender can’t back off anymore if this happens, so make sure that you state your intention to pay back the debt in full as clearly as possible.

If you can do that in writing, even better – it’s always good to have a clear paper trail that can be followed afterwards if there’s any confusion.

Avoid Any Negative Marks

Once you’ve paid off the debt, verify that there are no blemishes on your record as a result of it. Even though the removal process is largely automated, sometimes it can get caught up at various steps, resulting in a slowdown or even completely missing to remove your negative marks from the report. When this happens, a quick phone call is often enough to clear up the situation, so don’t be afraid to talk to your lender if you’re still not happy with the way things have turned out a week or two afterwards.

Recovering Quickly

Paying off the debt itself is only half of the story – you still have some work to do before you are truly back on your feet. Preventing this situation from reoccurring is going to be your biggest priority at this point, and you should do everything in your power to ensure that this never happens again. If you’ve put enough thought into analyzing the situation like we described above, and were honest with yourself about the overall state of affairs, then you should already know what steps you need to take next in order to maximize your future financial potential.

And if you feel like you’re coming back down to that level, and are going to need to take out a loan again in the near future, plan ahead as much as possible this time. Get professional help if you have to – financial advisors can cost a bit more than you’d expect, but they can go a long way towards helping you get a better overview of your situation. Plus, you shouldn’t have to work with one for too long before you’ve addressed most of your problems.