What to Expect from Credit Counseling
Offered by nonprofit agencies, credit counseling is a free service designed to help people take charge of their credit card debt and work toward financial stability. Some worry the process may be invasive or intimidating, but it’s anything but. Here’s what you can expect from credit counseling with a certified counselor.
Because they are nonprofits, credit counseling agencies are devoted to their clients’ success. Credit counselors receive extensive training in personal financial education, ethical practices, creditor policies and customer service. And if you’re worried about feeling judged during your counseling session, don’t be. We know it can be uncomfortable sharing details of your personal finances with a stranger, but our counselors have heard it all. They are here to help you focus on moving forward, not rehashing past mistakes.
A Workable Budget
During your counseling session, you and your counselor will review all your income, expenses and debts. This is so they can help you see exactly where your money is going and plan a realistic budget. In some cases, it can be a matter of cutting back spending in just a few key areas. In others, a full financial overhaul might be needed. But either way, you’ll work toward a balanced budget that works for you.
A Plan to Conquer Debt
Most people who seek credit counseling have one overriding question: “How can I get out of debt?” You will have that answer by the end of your credit counseling session. Depending on your unique financial situation, your counselor will recommend a debt solution. If you are a candidate for a debt management plan, they will explain how it works and all the benefits. For many people benefits include paying off all credit card debt in five years or less — sometimes much less, while saving on interest charges. And if a debt management plan isn’t the right solution for you, you’ll have a better idea of what your next steps should be.
You’ll come away from your credit counseling session with more information than when you started. Because credit counseling agencies are nonprofits, there’s a strong emphasis on financial education and helping people at all income levels make better choices with their money. If you’d like, you can also receive ongoing financial education through newsletters and emails.
Peace of Mind
Struggling with credit card debt can take a toll on your mental health. Talking with a credit counselor, planning a budget and finding out there are real solutions to help you can make a world of difference. Many clients who complete a credit counseling session tell us it feels as if a tremendous weight has been lifted. But we also understand that some people just aren’t ready to talk with someone, and that’s OK. They can receive the same information and guidance by completing self-directed credit counseling online. No matter the type of counseling you receive, you’re sure to feel a sense of relief.