Real Simple Life Money Money Planning Get-Out-of-Debt Checklist Get-Out-of-Debt Checklist Does the old saying "Another year older and deeper in debt" ring too true? Take these steps now to reduce your debt and fix credit problems Advertisement Save FB Tweet More Pinterest Email Send Text Message Print credit cards in a wallet Credit: JAMES BAIGRIE Fix Your Housing Debt Checklist Contact a certified financial planner to discuss your situation and options. They are trained to provide advice for prudent money management. Consider refinancing. If you have an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), find out if you can refinance it to a fixed-rate mortgage. With a fixed-rate you'll benefit from refinancing if you have top-notch credit and good, steady income. If you're in danger of foreclosure, research your alternatives. You may be tempted to cut your losses and move on, but visit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Web site (hud.gov) to research your other options. Handle Student Loans Checklist Consolidate your student loans. Lock in a reduced interest rate to make your monthly payments more manageable and your budget more predictable. Take Steps to Improve Your Credit Checklist Run a credit check on yourself. For a free credit report once a year, visit annualcreditreport.com. Consider a secured loan for debt consolidation. A single monthly payment can help you chip away at your debt faster. And if you make all your payments on time, your credit will improve. Limit yourself to three or four cards. Every new credit card application results in a credit-report inquiry, which causes your credit score to drop by as many as five points. Write out a strict budget and stick to it. It sounds like a no-brainer, but the best way to improve your credit score is to cut unnecessary spending and redirect extra income to start paying off debt.