Manage Your Debt - WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

Manage Your Debt

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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?"

Woman: "Yes."

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 moneymonday@wsvn.com.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Apprisen Financial Advocateswww.apprisen.com

National Foundation for Credit Counselinghttp://www.nfcc.org/index.cfm

The Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencieshttp://www.aiccca.org/

Better Business Bureauhttp://www.seflorida.bbb.org/

 

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