1. Be honest about it.
If you need to ask a lender for help, tell them why and be honest. If it gets worse in the future, and you lied at the outset, you'll get no help later on. In all areas of money, and life for that matter, having a reputation for honesty will always win through.
If you are being honest, don't just include the bank manager. Be honest with your spouse or partner and family. If you need help, financial or emotional, explain why honestly and I'm sure you'll get some of the support that you need. And if they can only give you some help, thank them, honestly, be greatful and accept it.
Could there be any more important life or debt management tips than that?
You may be 'protecting' him or her by not revealing the truth, but when they see you as an unreliable liar when the truth comes out (as it usually will) and divorce you, taking the kids, was it worth the lie?
2. Find competent advice and take it.
In my old life as a mortgage adviser, there was nothing worse than helping someone and really doing my best for them only to hear, 'we just have one more adviser left to see, can we call you?'. For me, that always burnt bridges.
If you want and need expert help, which you might well, or just sensible debt management tips, and be unable to pay for it (also likely if the debts are too high), treat your unpaid expert assistant well. As soon as you have annoyed them, their interest in you loses any personal care and responsibility they had for you and turns you into a business deal.
We all build relationships to be liked, be mutually beneficial and trusted. We make business deals for money. Do you think that the interests of a client are important to many advisers once the client has insulted them? The client will get far more value if they become friends and clients of financial people rather than just clients.
3. Pay everything you can on time, every time.
This relates to the other two debt management tips above. Finance is about numbers and money. But the money is controlled by real people with feelings, thoughts and emotions. We all know how tough it must be to have excessive debt. Even if we don't have first hand experience, we can relate to it.
If you have debt problems, you will need the assistance of many people. If they like you, trust and respect you, yours will be the 'exceptional circumstance' where they try to help someone out of their hole. Yours will be the procedure that gets waived, or chaser that isn't chased so quickly. They will leave many, many others to their fate. In sorting out debt matters, having the 'people' on your side will be a major advantage.
Stuart Langridge is an International Financial Planning Consultant to expatriates who has a background in the UK mortgage market. He has helped hundreds of families with debt issues and now writes about it instead. You can find more of his work at: http://www.DebtManagementResources.com