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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


'In Over Your Head' Bulletin Offers Strategies for Financial Crisis

August 14, 2009

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Although there are some signs that the economy may be headed toward recovery, you may still be feeling a pinch when it comes to money management.

Whether you want to get a stronger feeling of control over your finances or you find yourself facing bankruptcy court, you will benefit from the newly revised publication from Ohio State University Extension, "In Over Your Head: Life-Saving Strategies for Financial Crisis."

"This bulletin includes information on dealing with debt collectors and how to determine if filing for bankruptcy is the best option, but it's also for people who aren't at that point yet," said Chris Olinsky, family and consumer sciences educator with OSU Extension and one of the bulletin's authors.

The bulletin, No. 891, is free to download from OSU Extension's publications Web site,, under "Home." In addition, printed copies are available to order through OSU Extension's online store,, for $5.25, plus tax and shipping. Just search for "In Over Your Head" or click on "Home-Family-Youth." "In Over Your Head" is also available from county offices of OSU Extension. Contact your local office (see a list online at to place an order or inquire about availability.

"This bulletin contains information for anybody who recognizes they need to get a grip on money management," Olinsky said. "They may not necessarily be in financial crisis, but they might feel they're on the road toward it and need to get back on track. Do they have a budget? Do they know where they spend their money? Do they know how much they owe in secured and unsecured debt? A surprising number of people don't. We designed this bulletin to help them understand and take control of their finances."

In addition, the bulletin offers detailed information for people facing more serious circumstances, such as how to deal with debt collectors and how to determine when filing for bankruptcy may be the right choice.

"Bankruptcy is not a bad word," Olinsky said. "It's tougher to do now than it was a few years ago, before federal law changed, but it is a viable option for people in some circumstances. We explain the pros and cons, and the differences between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. And, we offer guidance on finding legal assistance."

"In Over Your Head" is organized into seven sections, with information on:














  • Assessing your situation and considering options for immediate action.
  • Dealing with debt and debt collectors.
  • Designing a personalized, self-directed repayment plan.
  • Using the services of a credit counseling agency.
  • Determining the pros and cons of consolidation and other repayment strategies.
  • Learning about bankruptcy and when it makes sense.
  • Employing strategies for maintaining control over your finances.


"Even though people in crisis will get a lot out of the information in this book, it really is for everybody," Olinsky said. "Our hope is that people will read it and take steps to manage their money before they get to a crisis stage."

Olinsky's co-authors on the project were Kathy Michelich, family and consumer sciences educator with OSU Extension, and Jean Clements and Diane Johnson, both retired Extension educators.


Martha Filipic
Christine Olinsky