Okay, this article is packed with ways to prioritize your spending and save money creatively. But what if you're reading those articles too late? What if you're already in deep trouble when it comes to money?

And let me define "deep trouble" — you're so broke you're thinking about singing for change on a busy street. Being 30 days late on some payments, a shutdown phone, bounced checks, or lights being turned off in your pad also describe "deep trouble."

If any of this sounds familiar, you're not alone. People our age mess up all the time, and many ruin their credit in the process.

Here's a Plan to Get You Back on Track

First, don't stick your head in a hole. Ignoring money problems and bills creates more money problems. You'll pay big bucks in high late fees and default fees, for instance. But tackling the problems head-on shows companies you're trying to be responsible.

If you're going to be late on a payment, (or are already late) call the company and ask for an extension. Also ask if a partial payment or payments would help. Talking with your creditors can help, as long as you do what you say. Don't promise a payment if you can't make it.

Second, look at the total of your monthly bills versus your income right now. If your bills are a lot higher than your income—and if you really can't cut out any of your spending—get help. If you're in school, your school probably has a financial counselor. Head to that office now. If you're not in school, and if you're lucky enough to belong to a credit union, talk with the credit union now—and be honest with them about your problems.

Third, change your behavior! Learning how to live on a budget can power you to real independence! And here's a website to make you feel better. Hey, you think you've wasted money on stupid things! Check out www.spendster.org.

Hope this helps!

Cheers, Will