Credit counseling isn’t something that all individuals can afford. Luckily, there are quite a few organizations out there that offer free or low-cost credit counseling services. Below we’ll be showing you exactly what credit counseling is, and also highlight some of the most useful organizations and single mother programs that serve low-income American citizens.
Credit Counseling Overview
Credit counseling is a form of debt relief where credit counselors analyze your overall financial state, and then work with you to create a repayment plan for your debt. Some counselors will assist you with a money management plan creation together with your debt repayment plan, but they might also be able to assist with providing you with the resources you need to effectively manage your finances.
What to Look For In a Credit Counseling Agency
If you’re not sure where to turn to for finding a good credit counseling agency, you can have a look at the Federal Trade Commission’s website for a list of providers. You can also check out the United States Trustee Program’s list of credit counseling agencies. If however, you already have a credit counseling agency in mind and need to ensure that they are the right choice, there are a few requirements that the agency needs to meet.
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Aside from helping you manage your finances, an agency should be able to help you create and commit to a debt repayment plan, help you budget more effectively, and provide you with the means to access educational workshops and materials that can help you manage your finances more effectively. You might also want to cross-reference the agency you have in mind with the local state Attorney General and the consumer protection agency.
You need to ensure that the credit counseling agency you have in mind, meets the following criteria:
- Offer services like budget counseling, debt management plans, and financial education workshops, and not just limit their services to a debt management plan.
- Provide their customers with free educational resources or workshops.
- Offer long-term plans of action, instead of just focusing on resolving immediate problems.
- The agency is licensed to provide credit counseling services in your state.
- They have counselors on board with formal qualifications, that are accredited, or have been certified to work with credit counseling.
- They have a strict confidentiality clause with their clients.
Low Cost or Free Services
The National Foundation for Credit Counseling, Inc. is the national foundation that accredits and certifies credit counselors. The organization also provides educational support for its participating agencies. The majority of the NFCC’s agencies offer free or low-cost credit counseling services. For more information or to find a local agency, please visit their website.
The ACCC is a non-profit credit counseling agency that provides assistance with debt consolidation and financial management. The agency can also assist homeowners and buyers, help students acquire student loans, and also offer free financial management workshops. For detailed information on single mother benefits offered by Consumer Credit, you can visit their website.
FDIC Money Smart Resources
The Money Smart Podcast Network comprises a wide range of resources that can help you manage your debt and finances more efficiently. The collection of audio files on the website can help individuals make smarter choices regarding their finances. It’s a free program that isn’t protected by copyright. The podcast network is also customizable and has been developed with the principles of the Money Smart Curriculum in mind. To get started with the program, head over to the website and start listening to the podcasts.
Clearpoint is a credit counseling agency that offers free credit counseling and budget assistance services. Their counselors provide clients with personalized action and budget plans, free FICO scores, and free credit report reviews. To get in touch with Clearpoint, visit their website for more information on aid for single moms.
As a non-profit organization, Modest Needs provides low-income consumers with the means to pay vendors or creditors when they do not have the funds to do so themselves. Modest Needs does not assist individuals with cash in hand, but rather remits payments directly to creditors on behalf of the less-fortunate. Applicants are also granted these services free-of-charge if they qualify for assistance. For more information and eligibility requirements for single mother grants, please visit the Modest Needs website.
Free Online Financial Courses
There is a wide variety of free online financial courses that can help you plan your own effective debt repayment program and manage your finances more efficiently. Some of the most reputable online courses include:
Money Smart (free podcast by FDIC)
If you are struggling financially as a single parent, there are resources you can turn to for help. These are a good place to start no matter where you are located in the U.S.