It sometimes takes longer than it should for us to realize there's a problem. If you're reading this, you're probably feeling some amount of pain connected to your finances, but you may be unsure if you need to act on that pain. Consider some of the following very common reasons why people seek help through a nonprofit credit counseling agency. If this sounds like you, it may be time to take action.
You are facing legal action
Perhaps it's an issue you've been avoiding for months, or maybe it just came out of nowhere. Perhaps you found a notice pinned to your door or received a threatening letter.
Whether it's a creditor suing you for an unpaid debt or a lender threatening you with foreclosure due to a delinquent mortgage, receiving a notice from a lawyer is scary. For a lot of folks, that's the tipping point that leads them to finally reaching out for help.
Depending on the specifics of your situation, there may be advice and resources our counselors can provide, but it's important to make clear that the counselors at MMI are not lawyers. If you are facing a lawsuit, it's usually in your best interest to consult with a qualified attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, the American Bar Association maintains a list of programs and resources for low income households.
If you have received notification that your home is being foreclosed
MMI offers free foreclosure counseling, which can help you identify potential solutions to keep you in your home. Keep in mind, however, that the sooner you act, the better your chances of rehabilitating your mortgage.
If you have received notification that a creditor is suing you for unpaid debts
CREDIT COUNSELING AND A DEBT REPAYMENT PLAN
A creditor or debt collector may accept a structured repayment plan in lieu of a court-ordered wage garnishment. As with foreclosure, the sooner you act the better your chances of avoiding a potential garnishment.
If you have debts in collection or accounts that have begun to fall behind, consider speaking with a credit counselor immediately to discuss your finances and the possibility of setting up a debt management plan to begin addressing your delinquent debts.
You cannot make all of your payments
If you find yourself choosing which bills to pay and which to skip each month, there may be an issue with your spending, or you may have an unmanageable amount of debt.
If your expenses exceed your income
Credit counseling (also known as debt and budget counseling) is a one-on-one review of you finances, with the goal of understanding your challenges and providing actionable solutions. It's free and a great place to start if your bills and income just don't add up like they should.
If your credit card debt payments feel overwhelming
A debt management plan (or DMP) is a structured repayment plan ideal for anyone who feels overwhelmed by the size of their credit card debt and would like to start making more progress against that debt. Most credit card accounts are eligible for reduced interest rates, saving significant money in the long-term.
If your student loan debts are too costly to manage
Whether you're just out of school or you've been living with your student loans for years, if your federal student loan payments are just too costly to manage, you could benefit from speaking with a trained student loan counselor. Even if you've run out of deferments or begun to fall behind on your payments, there's a good chance your counselor can help you find a way forward.
Your finances are about to change dramatically
Not all significant financial changes are bad (though the unexpected ones tend to be). Significant shifts can be challenging, however, if you aren't properly prepared.
If you're about to purchase your first home
Becoming a homeowner is one of the most dramatic financial changes you can experience. To help prepare you for life as a homeowner, we offer homebuyer counseling. It's a great way to learn the ins and outs of managing a mortgage and a new home.
If your income is about to increase or decrease
If your circumstances are changing and you aren't sure how to best manage your finances going forward, credit counseling is the ideal place to start. It's free, it's confidential, it's unbiased, and it provides you with the knowledge and confidence to make smart choices with your money.
You're not sure how bad things are
Sometimes it's not especially obvious whether or not you need help. If you're curious about financial standing, check out our Financial Wellness Test. Answer 20 questions and receive valuable insight on the state of your finances (and what you should do next).