Q. Is it okay to ignore my bills if I can't afford the payments?
A. No way. Ignoring your bills will result in late fees, negative credit, and higher interest rates -- to the tune of as much as 32 percent on your credit cards, according to a study by advocacy group Consumer Action. Foresee a problem making a payment to your credit card or your mortgage company? Pick up the phone. "If you proactively call and explain the situation, you'll probably get better treatment," says Ken Robinson, a financial adviser in Cleveland. You may be able to work out a different payment plan or lower your interest rate. The same goes for taxes: File your return on time, then contact the IRS to talk about an installment plan, if need be.