Many people will have ups and downs in their finances. Life happens, and sometimes we are forced into less than ideal situations.

However, it’s important to recognize the difference between a rough patch in your finances and signs of a general downward trend. Here are some financial warning signs to watch for:

You can only afford to make minimum payments

Credit card companies love it when people only pay the smallest payments on a bill. It allows them to assess heavy interest and potential non-payment fees on top. If you have several credit cards that you can only afford bare minimum payments, it’s a sign of overspending.

You use one line of credit to pay off another

While consolidating debt can be a way to reduce the number of monthly payments you need to worry about, it can also be a sign of financial distress. If you’re using one line of credit to pay off another, it’s bad financial health. You’re putting off the expense without addressing its root cause.

There’s no money to put in savings

Many people live paycheck to paycheck, making it difficult to accumulate much in terms of savings. Even if this is the case, it’s wise to put aside a little each month towards savings. Whatever you can spare each month can quickly add up to a solid emergency spending fund. If you find at the end of each paycheck there’s nothing left over, it’s time to reassess your budget.

Surprise card declines

Swiping a card only to see it declined can be an awful surprise for anyone. If your cards are declined on a regular basis, it’s a good sign you haven’t closely monitored your budget. You may be overspending or have unaccounted costs.

Getting a grip on your finances

When you find yourself struggling to get ahead of your debts, talking to a knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney may help. Bankruptcy can be a useful tool to get a grasp on your finances.

Declaring bankruptcy doesn’t mean admitting failure. It’s a tool for consumers to help them get out from under debt. It may help you get the fresh start you need.