Need help consolidating my bills

After all, no one should be forced to choose between paying utility bills and feeding their family.

The grim reality is that many Americans need help paying bills.

If you are nearly maxed out on one or more credit cards, your credit scores have no doubt taken a hit.

Bill paying help ranges from customized payment plans to government programs designed to help jobless homeowners avoid foreclosure.

You just have to understand your options and seek help.

HEAP is federally funded and issues benefits to supplement a household's annual energy cost.

HEAP also offers an emergency benefit for households in a heat-related energy emergency.

Asking for help doesn't always come naturally - particularly for those who let pride get in the way or those who simply may not be aware that a helping hand is out there, just waiting for you to grab on.

In times of need, however, particularly when you need help with bills, it's time to take some action.

Keep the convenience of cellular phones and cable services by lowering your monthly bill.

Start by analyzing your rate plan as recent offers may be more economical.

Virtually all credit scoring models take into account the amount of your revolving balances in comparison to your available credit limits.

The closer your balances get to your credit limits (known as “utilization”), the more this factor will hurt your scores.

If that doesn't work, there are great ways to get help with paying bills without taking out loans: One word of caution: Avoid taking on more debt by taking out a home equity loan, borrowing against a retirement account, or bridging the gap between needing to pay for expenses and receiving your next paycheck with payday loans.