Priceless Credit Counseling Advice

Sometimes consumers get in over their heads and need credit counseling to help get back on the right financial track. Enter the professionals who, like doctors or lawyers, can advise and instruct their clients helping “fix” a problem. Abuse of credit has led many people into deep financial trouble if not outright ruin. Finding a good counselor who can help is a choice toward personal economic recovery.

Check the Credentials

Anyone can claim to be a professional credit counselor. However, trained, experienced professionals will carry some form of certification verifying their professional status if not authenticating their successful experience helping people in debt.

Services Offered

Professional credit counselors will help people learn to manage their spending while controlling debt. Frequently, these services are offered either through low-fee monthly arrangements and often are free through community-based organizations. Credit counselors concentrate on teaching consumers about the art of budgeting. An initial intake session will help to establish a budget number that professionals use to teach consumers about proper practices concerning spending and saving. Additionally, group workshops may be available where detailed credit management techniques and other debt counseling topics are covered. A starting point for any debt counseling would be obtaining a personal credit report. This report will reveal all reportable outstanding debt that will be used to analyze the consumer’s present depth of indebtedness helping to devise a plan to mange and reduce it. The report is available from one of the three major credit reporting agencies – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.

Education Corrects

Consumers who gain an effective credit education can learn to successfully manage their money while making the everyday financial decisions necessary for productive living. Professional credit counselors will offer a wide range of credit educational programs either through individual consultation, consumer oriented credit information literature and possibly group workshops where various topics are covered including:

  • How to save money daily through adjusting personal habits
  • Creating a personal budget – and sticking to it
  • How to save for large ticket purchases such as cars, homes or a college education
  • Learning to create that “nest egg” putting away money for emergency situations
  • Consumer protection laws
  • Using credit wisely
  • Long-term financial goal setting such as retirement planning
  • Tax-related topics concerning money management
  • Fraud and identity protection

Immediate Need

Although consumer education can play a huge part toward correcting bad personal financial habits, some consumers may need immediate credit management help that counselors can offer. Some services available will intercede with creditors seeking to devise a plan that will allow consumers the opportunity to reduce monthly liabilities to the point where debt reduction is viable. Additionally, credit counselors can help eliminate constant debt collection attempts while helping stave off any legal action possibly taken by creditors. Often these services are offered through non-profit organizations as an alternative to filing bankruptcy.

Fee-Based Plans

Some credit counselors are for-profit companies that specialize providing debt management services where professionals negotiate with creditors to waive certain fees, reduce periodic payments and lower interest rates on outstanding debt. The consumer pays the credit counseling company a monthly sum to make payments to the various creditors. Usually during the repayment period, consumers participating are prohibited from establishing additional revolving credit accounts.

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