Monday, February 14, 2011
Money Monday: Manage Your Debt
If you're struggling to keep up with bills and mounting debt, there is help out there. On tonight's "Money Monday," 7's Lynn Martinez tells us how to find a reputable debt relief agency that can help.
WSVN -- Bart Vandenburghe lost his job in November.
He was an international sales executive with a six-figure salary. Now, he's having trouble paying his bills.
Bart Vandenburghe, Got Debt Help: "I had some money on the side, but of course that started depleting."
Bart went online and found help though Apprisen Financial Advocates, a non-profit consumer credit counseling service.
Rebeca Castro, Financial Counselor: "When you come in, we'll do a budget with you. We'll take a look at your debts. We'll give you a whole financial picture if you will, and also, if you're having housing trouble, we'll help you on that end too to find out what your options are."
To find a reputable credit counseling service, make sure it is accredited with a national agency like the National Association of Credit Counselors, and if they ask for money up front, walk away.
Rebeca Castro: "You want to stay away from that, and you also want to make sure that they are advising you of what your rights are as a client."
Debt management counselors will negotiate with your lenders for reduced interest rates and design a payment plan that will help you pay your debt in a reasonable amount of time.
Carol Long, Financial Counselor: "Did you bring your paperwork?"
Counselor Carol Long also encourages people to cut up their credit cards and leave them in her jar.
Carol Long, Financial Counselor: "In my 17 years here as a credit counselor, I've probably filled this jar up about 12 times. It's just a statement letting them know that other people have been here and this program works."
Bart agrees. He's now on a debt management plan, paying a fixed amount at a reduced interest rate for the next four and a half years.
Bart Vandenburghe: "They were very thorough, and I like that, and they also give you a concrete plan, so I know where I stand."
Lynn Martinez: "Consumer credit counseling services are free, but they do charge a small fee to manage your account."
And if you have any money questions or story ideas you'd like us to look into on "Money Monday," email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Apprisen Financial Advocates
National Foundation for Credit Counseling
The Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies
Better Business Bureau