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Millions of Americans ran into financial rough spots during the recent recession, and many are still feeling at least some of the effects today. This has led a majority of consumers to question whether they need help in getting their finances back in order.

The vast majority consumers may find that their finances are still in relative disrepair compared with where they were before the economic downturn, and need significant help in rebuilding their credit standing, according to a new survey from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. A recent true/false quiz asked consumers to examine their responses to 10 questions related to finances, any one of which would indicate at least some kind of financial distress, and 80 percent of respondents said that upon doing so, they realized they needed a “major overhaul” of their financial lives. Another 13 percent responded that they were in need of a tune-up.

A number of the major warning signs of financial difficulties revolve around credit card debt and other types of credit, the report said. For instance, consumers whose credit card balances seem to rise every month, or those who have sought new cards because their current ones are drawing perilously close to their limits, might be having deeper issues than just mismanaging these accounts. Further, consumers who regularly make late payments on their various lines of credit, or skip payments altogether, are likely struggling mightily to make ends meet given their current habits.

Consumers might also be facing financial difficulties if they do not know the total amount they owe to their creditors, or have begun to receive phone calls from debt collectors as a result of their defaulting on outstanding balances, the report said. Those who would face financial crises if they were to lose their job, and those who have no savings account to speak of, would likely also do well to take steps to improve their finances.

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For those interested in getting their credit standing to where it once was, it is vitally important to ensure that all bills are paid on time and in full, and outstanding credit card balances don’t approach the account limits. These are the two factors that play most significantly into determining a credit score, and keeping them in good standing is therefore a major part of ensuring credit health.

Image: Mykl Roventine, via Flickr

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