Counselor admires her clients gumption

Throughout Financial Literacy Month, the blog has given voice to consumers who have overcome financial challenges. Through their own words, these consumers have told you about what it was like to be in and repay unmanageable debt. They also shared inspiring words about the many ways their lives have changed as a result of their debt repayment efforts. Today's post was written by one of the credit counselors who help make success stories like theirs possible.

As a credit counselor, some of the most admirable people I have ever met have been my clients. What really impresses me can only be described with one word: gumption. When facing financial difficulties beyond their control, these people reorganize their lives, cut back on their budgets, and stick with their action plans through pure determination and . . . gumption.

Some examples:

  • Clients who will do anything to avoid bankruptcy and are determined to pay back their creditors. Their integrity in a society full of easy solutions should be applauded.
  • Clients who will put aside their pride and realize that bankruptcy is the best option to keep their families stable. Though this seems to negate example #1, in some circumstances bankruptcy is the right option. For a proud, independent person, declaring bankruptcy takes a lot of gumption (and therefore is also to be applauded).
  • Anyone who will sacrifice for their priorities. Many people follow society’s guidelines for what is financially acceptable. However, when my clients really look at their priorities and reorganize their lives to stay on budget, you can often see where their core principles lie. In particular, I think of clients who have slashed their clothing expenses, cable bills, and gift giving to keep paying their children’s private school tuition or to pay for their dog to have surgery. Everyone has different priorities and, while they may or may not be the same as my own, I deeply respect any person who will stand by what they believe and show it by changing their lifestyle when they are financially burdened.
  • Anyone who takes on financial responsibilities for the first time. I have counseled numerous widowers, divorcees, and others who have lost the support of their partners. Many of these clients not only lost income but also their money managers. I greatly admire the widow who takes on the task of handling finances for the first time in 40+ years, especially when there have been multiple debts left behind. Though in an ideal situation everyone would have a basic understanding of his or her finances, those who start late and take full responsibility definitely show gumption.
  • People who will not give up their charitable donations. In a way, it is hard for me as counselor when I know there are deficits in people’s budgets. However, when these same people will cut back on everything else and still keep giving, I have great respect for them.

Getting out of debt can be intimidating, but by being determined and using the tools available to you, it is possible!

Lauren Bayliss graduated from Calvin College in 2008 and began working at Money Management International shortly thereafter. She has worked to register clients for bankruptcy courses, is a HUD approved reverse mortgage counselor, and currently counsels debt and budget sessions in English and Spanish. She enjoys thrift store shopping, reading, and crocheting.

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.