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Succes Online Financial Education Newsletter


Money Management International Improving Lives Through Financial Education
SUCESS NewsletterFinancial Education Newsletter
Overcoming the bleak reality of high debt
Credit card debt is upbut help is available

By Jessica Horton, MMI Copywriter

A recent USA Today news report highlighted some alarming statistics. According to the report, the amount of credit card debt amassed by consumers has increased 368 percent from two years ago; however, the number of people seeking help from credit counseling agencies has dropped 20 percent.

Financial experts suggest the declining number of people seeking help may be because people are tired of trying and have just given up.

It’s easy to become discouraged – especially in today’s economy. Unfortunately, debt isn’t something that should be ignored. Our studies show debt affects far more than your finances. Debt and financial stress affects your health, your relationships, and your well-being.

So as the number of consumers in debt increases, it’s important to understand that there are options available. It’s also imperative to remember that there is always hope, regardless of your financial situation.

In fact, in 2010 MMI assisted more people than ever. Through our counseling services, we were able to assist more than 470,000 consumers in need of help. And as a result, our clients were able to pay back more than $740 million in debt – and that was just last year!

The feelings that come as a result of reducing debt are best described by those who have already taken the path. Listen to our new podcast series to hear truly inspiring success stories from former clients. And if you haven’t already, take a minute and watch this video on the benefits of repaying debt.

Remember, there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. If you need help finding it, that’s what we’re here for!


Click on the image below to download the free infographic.


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How much further to debt freedom?

Paying off debt requires a plan. Planning requires knowledge.

MMI's free online balance payoff calculator lets you map out a path to paying off debt. Just punch in the numbers and this easy-to-use tool helps you make a plan to pay off your balances. 

Use the MMI balance payoff calculator


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7 steps to regaining financial control

Don't lose hope – make your own plan using these tips

In today’s economy, many people are reaching the point where they feel their personal finances are out of control, and there is no hope of recovering from the financial mayhem. With jobs lost, mortgages underwater, and retirement accounts still on life-support, this feeling of hopelessness is understandable.

But there are steps you can take now that will put you in a better financial position. Each tip in the following list can be implemented at little or no cost, and put you on the road to solid financial ground.

1. Live within your means. Don’t spend more than you make. To accomplish this, put the credit cards away. Many well-meaning people resort to living off of credit when facing a financial crisis, digging an even deeper financial hole. Instead, try living on a cash basis. People who do this typically spend 20 percent less, and they don’t spend as frivolously.

2. Get financially organized. Sometimes people become so overwhelmed that they bury their head in the financial sand. They neglect paying their bills on time and don’t even open the monthly credit card statements. Such habits result in late fees, a tarnished credit report, and a lower credit score. Become financially organized by creating a cash-flow calendar where you record each payday for everyone in the home who earns money. Next, write down which bills are to be paid out of each check. Get into the habit of keeping all bills in one location so that you can easily put your hands on them.

3. Don’t overdraft your checking account. Even if you have overdraft protection, this is a habit that speaks of a deeper problem that should be addressed. Write down each deposit and withdrawal in your check register, including all debit and ATM transactions. Regularly balance your checkbook, and reconcile your bank statement within one week of its arrival.

4. Know where your money goes. Have everyone in your household who spends money track their spending for 30 days. At the end of the month, come together to review the findings and determine where the leaks are. Make adjustments so that your budget reflects exactly how you want your hard-earned money to be spent.

5. Create a rainy-day fund. Many people say they can’t afford to save. Neither can they afford to be ill-prepared for the inevitable money-gobbling emergency. Now that you’ve tracked your spending and are allocating where your money goes, be sure to include a savings category with money ear-marked for that purpose each month.

6. Improve your tarnished credit. If recent events have made your credit report less than stellar, work on improving it. Review the damage by obtaining a free copy of your credit report from Look for what’s doing you the most harm, things such as accounts that have gone into collections, or old credit card bills that you’ve forgotten about. Create a plan to begin repaying these debts, even if it’s a small amount each month. A past-due bill that has been paid is less damaging than a past-due bill that remains unpaid. Further, recent activity has a stronger influence on your credit score than things that happened in the past, so taking positive steps now will likely result in an improved score down the road.

7. Slowly reenter the world of credit. Most people will need a thick and positive credit file to obtain the credit necessary to buy a big-ticket item such as a house or a car. If you are not currently a candidate for more traditional forms of credit, you may want to consider applying for a secured credit card. You will be required to place a pre-determined amount of money up as collateral on the account. Your spending limit will be equal to this amount. Make sure that the secured card you select reports your activity to each of the credit bureaus and doesn’t have unreasonable fees.

MMI Debt Management Plan Client Corner
Tips for Success

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Update your account balances online. When you receive your monthly statement from your creditors, login to your MMI account and update your balances. It is important that we have the most accurate balance information possible on file. 

If you would like more information about signing up for a Debt Management Plan through Money Management International, visit

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About Money Management International

Money Management International (MMI) is a nonprofit, full-service credit counseling agency, providing confidential financial guidance, financial education, counseling, and debt management assistance to consumers since 1958. MMI helps consumers trim their expenses, develop a spending plan, and repay debts. Counseling is available by appointment in branch offices and 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by telephone and Internet. Services are available in English or Spanish. To learn more, call
866.530.9869 or visit

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