Capsized by your monthly payments? Drowning in a sea of debt? I hate to be the one to tell you this, but maybe it's time to learn to be your own lifeguard. If you don't believe me -- or lack the faith in your own wading abilities -- consider the ironic demise of AmeriDebt last month.

As a credit counseling service, AmeriDebt was a well-recognized entity. Its national studies on debt had been cited on our own site more than once or twice. But as the company came under attack by the Federal Trade Commission for its marketing and operating practices, it soon became the picture-perfect portrait of its target audience. In June its balance sheet sported more liabilities than assets as AmeriDebt filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

You can fill in your own joke, but do so while applying some sunscreen. Learning to stay above water, financially speaking, is critical. We have plenty of free resources in our Credit Center. Our 60-second online guide is a great place to start. While it may not make you an Olympic swimmer, at least you'll master the doggie paddle.

But it all starts with you. Our active Living Below Your Means discussion board is a popular destination for folks looking to stretch their dollars, but it will ultimately have to be your call to consolidate your debt and haggle for lower rates.

So what color is your swimsuit? It's OK if they laugh at your Speedo. Just keep moving forward -- even when you're doing the backstroke.

Have you been to our Credit Center lately? Are you spending more than you are saving? When's the last time you took the time to map out a budget? All this and more -- in the Living Below Your Means discussion board. Only on

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz remembers his swimming lessons as a child in the frigidly unforgiving waters of Venetian Pool. He has been an advocate for living below your means almost as long. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story.