You’re in a tough spot. Delinquent accounts are pulling down your credit score. Constant calls from debt collectors are ruining your day. You feel like the situation is getting worse faster than it is getting better, and every move you make seems to come up just short of actually helping.

Once you find yourself in this type of situation, the weight on your shoulders often feels unbearable, and you might have a hard time seeing any light at the end of the tunnel. But there is always a way out. There is always another option.

And one of the best ways to start digging yourself out of this mess is to take a look at what got you here in the first place. The first step is to take ownership of the decisions you made that landed you here.

So with that in mind, let’s take a quick look at six things that you probably could have done differently if you had the chance to do it all over again.

Paid Those Bills on Time

One of the most common reasons that many consumers find themselves falling deeper and deeper into debt is that they simply don’t remember to pay their bills on time. In most cases, this has very little to do with finances and is actually more of an organizational issue.

The late fees and interest charges that mount up when you are late getting your payments in can break even the most successful people, so make sure that you are getting every one of your bills paid on time.

Bought Less Stuff

While paying the bills on time might be an organizational issue, buying too much stuff is more of a financial issue…and it is one that almost every person on the entire planet is struggling with, so don’t ever feel like you are alone on this one.

We all make impulsive purchases that we later regret, but some of us are able to catch ourselves just a little bit quicker than others. If you weren’t blessed with that gene, you are going to have to be extra-vigilant to make sure that you don’t spend your hard-earned money foolishly.

Started a Side Hustle

Every personal finance expert will tell you that the flip side to “spend less money” is to figure out a way to earn more. Everyone could use some extra income, and starting a side hustle is a great way to get some extra money coming in.

Of course, it is important to designate that extra income for savings or paying off long-term debts. If you just spend it on more junk, it won’t actually contribute to your life in any meaningful way.

Refocused Spending

Whether you prefer Dave Ramsey’s Snowball method or elect to focus all of your extra money on paying off the highest interest rate debt first, having a focused plan for your spending is always going to get you to the promised land much faster than randomly putting a few bucks here or there.

Having a focused strategy for your personal finances will get you out of debt faster, and then it will make sure that you stay ahead of the game no matter what curveballs life happens to throw your way.

Trimmed the Fat

In almost every case of delinquent debt, there are a number of purchase decisions that the consumer wishes they could have back. Whether we are talking about clothes, food, or some other obsession, cutting back on the extras probably would have helped you avoid your current situation.

Taken the Situation More Seriously

Along those same lines, if you had taken your financial situation a little more seriously right from the start, there is a strong likelihood that you wouldn’t be in a difficult spot today. So the best thing that you can learn from delinquent accounts is to take them a whole lot more seriously moving forward.

No matter how difficult your current situation might be, it is likely that it could have been prevented if you had acted sooner. It is also extremely likely that you can dig your way out by using many of the same techniques that might have helped you avoid it in the first place.

With that in mind, it is never too late to get started taking more ownership of your financial situation, so let’s get to work on improving your life today.