Maybe you’ve gotten in over your head with your debt. It could be that you struggle paycheck to paycheck, and you’re having trouble seeing the light at the end of the tunnel because you can’t keep up with even the minimum payments let alone pay anything additional in order to pay off your debt once and for all.
Advantages of Using Credit Counseling Services
When you feel like there’s no hope financially, before you go for a bankruptcy you should consider a credit counseling service. There are many advantages of using a credit counseling service over attempting to get out of your financial hardship on your own. Advantages include:
Putting an end to phone calls from creditors looking for money
Reducing interest rates on each of your accounts, sometimes even setting up your accounts with no interest at all!
Putting an end to excessive fees, including over the limit fees and late fees
Feel better because there is a plan of action that will actually make a difference towards paying off your debt.
Questions to Ask Credit Counseling Services Before Joining Program
The first step to getting help from a credit counseling service is to select a service that is actually operating in order to assist consumers. Unfortunately, there are many companies currently operating that claim to be not for profit, but are charging excessive fees and making their services otherwise unaffordable to people who are already struggling to get by. Do your homework first to ensure that you are enlisting services from a real credit counseling program designed to assist consumers with their financial problems.
Ask the credit counseling program several questions before you sign any contracts or otherwise make a commitment to join their program, including:
A request for all services offered by the credit counseling program. Ideally, a program should offer budget assistance, money management advice, and classes that help you regain control over your finances in addition to assistance with setting up affordable payment plans with existing creditors and paying off debt.
Ask if the agency charges for their classes or advice. Credit counseling services should not charge their participants for information and educational services.
Request details on all fees required to use their service. Are their monthly fees? Does it cost anything to set up your account? How much?
Make sure the credit counseling agency is licensed to operate within your state.
Ask about the qualifications of the credit counselors. It won’t be as helpful to work with people who are just employees of a credit company- you want to work with a credit counseling program that offers trained counselors who understand how to get your finances back on track, and know how to teach you how to avoid the same situation in the future.
Be bold and even ask how the employees of a credit counseling agency are paid. If they are paid more when the clients (you) purchase or sign up for certain aspects of the program, consider that a sign that they’re going to try pushing you to sign up for programs whether it’s in your best interest or not- since it earns them more money.
Debt Management Programs
Part of almost all credit counseling services is a debt management program. You might consider using a debt management program if a qualified credit counselor has thoroughly reviewed your financial situation- including your debts and income and goals for the future- and has described the program in great detail to you. If you decide to use a debt management program, make sure it’s offered through a credit counseling agency that will also provide you with advice and education.