Everyone deserves help with money matters from someone they can trust, no matter their income or stage of life. If you need free or low cost help with money matters close to home, we want to help you find the best organizations for your individual needs.
From career services to find a better job or financial counseling to get out of debt or back on your feet following a difficult life challenge, this guide will help you discover organizations supported by volunteers and benefactors who understand what you’re going through and are ready to help.
You may prefer a local organization where you can speak with someone face-to-face, but keep in mind that many community resources also offer phone counseling nationwide, which can be just as effective, and very convenient.
Many local organizations offer services from financial counselors. Financial counselors go by a few other titles including, perhaps confusingly, debt counselors and credit counselors (as they help you reduce your debt and improve your credit).
Financial counselors generally work within organizations which may be accredited by the National Foundation for Credit Counselling (NFCC) or the Financial Counseling Association of America (FCAA). The NFCC has approved 57 non-profit agencies across the US.
As in other areas of life, a counselor tends to help you with something you are struggling with. You might hire a coach to help improve your finances (even if there’s nothing drastically wrong with them) but you will usually hire a counselor to help you put right something that has gone wrong.
Financial counselors typically help people get debt under control and improve their credit score. They will help you put together a plan to pay off debt, which might include better budgeting, refinancing, or debt consolidation. Some counselors will help you set up a debt management plan, and act as an intermediary between you and your creditors.
It’s worth considering a financial counselor if you have financial problems that you can’t solve yourself, such as out of control debt or a very poor credit score. Even then, you only need counseling if you don’t know how to get back on track yourself.
People generally seek financial counseling when something goes wrong that will seriously impact their finances, such as unemployment, divorce or a serious health issue. They may also seek help if credit card and other consumer debt has slowly grown to a level they can no longer manage.
Understandably you won’t want to spend a lot of money on counseling if you’re in debt, but you may not have to. Various non-profits, credit unions and religious organizations provide debt counselling for free to people in need, so tell the agency if you are in a position where you need help but simply can’t afford to pay for it, which will usually be the case if you’re seeking debt counseling.
If you don’t qualify for free counseling, you will find that many non-profit agencies are very affordable. At the very least, you may find you can get a free initial consultation.
Use this guide and our directory to find organizations near you that offer financial counseling services. You can also review the websites for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC)or the Financial Counseling Association of America (FCAA) to learn more.
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