You are now successfully in a debt management program but you probably know others
who could gain from your courage and success. How do you know when to suggest they
seek help? If you think they may need credit counseling, here are some questions
to help them decide:
Are you more-often-than-not late paying at least one of your monthly bills?
Are you unable to make the minimum payments on your credit cards?
Do you use cash advances from one card to pay another?
Have you found yourself avoiding calls from your creditors?
Have your own attempts to set up payment arrangements with your creditors been unsuccessful?
Credit Advisors Foundation can provide them with valuable education and services
at any time, however, if they answered yes to one or more of the questions above,
it may be time to seriously consider the credit counseling options available. Why
CAF? Because CAF can help!
Here’s the information you need to share with others: What to do first? Decide
what needs to be accomplished. Get out of debt? Stop the calls? Create a budget?
Knowing basic goals will help find the service that best fits these needs.
Tell them when they contact a credit counseling agency to find out what type of
assistance is offered. Find a credit counselor who is accustomed to handling the
type of debts they have, like mortgages, auto loans, bad checks, federal taxes,
finance companies and of course, credit cards. Know that, unlike Credit Advisors
Foundation not all agencies handle everything. Beware of agencies offering
quick fixes. How long did it take the situation to reach this point? Solutions,
in most cases, will not happen over night.
Is the agency accredited by a qualified national organization, such as The Council
of Accreditation (COA)? CAF is! (Accreditation assures that the agency is concerned
with industry best practices to offer the highest level of service possible.) Is
the agency a member in good standing with the Better Business Bureau? CAF is! What
about membership in industry organizations? One example would be the American Association
of Debt Management Organizations (AADMO). (That’s right, CAF is!) Ask about the
What is their security policy? (See the CAF website.) Is the personal information
shared safe? (Firewalls and shredding say yes, at CAF.) Does the agency have the
electronic capabilities to make it easy to receive funds and to send funds to creditors?
(EFT/ACH? Yes, again!)
Does the agency have a not-for-profit status? (Yes, CAF!) Keep in mind that a non-profit
status does not guarantee affordable fees. (Consider non-profit hospitals and the
bills they send out.) Ask about fees and contributions. Once a member of a debt
counseling program, how long does that agency hold money before funds are sent to
the creditors? (15 days.) What happens to the first funds (payment or deposit) sent?
(To the creditors!)
Ask specific questions about the counselors. Find out about their education and
training. Are they certified credit counselors? (CAF counselors are!) Does the credit
counselor evaluate the budget before suggesting solutions? (Yes!) Are fees
and contributions considered within the budget? (Yes, Yes, Yes!)
Ask about benefits that are available from creditors as a member of a debt management
program. Understand that these benefits are at the discretion of the creditor only
and are subject to change without notice. Does the agency report to the credit bureaus?
(CAF does not add any notations to your credit bureau.) Will and how, will credit
counseling show up on a credit report? Will it affect the credit score? For example,
First USA, now Bank One, will report an account as delinquent until three consecutive
monthly payments at the approved new minimum amount are received. They will then
list the account as current.
Others, like Citibank, add a note to the credit bureau listing that the account
has been placed with a credit counseling agency. Once the program is completed and
the accounts are paid in full notations are dropped. Know that Fair Isaac &
Co, who developed the formula for determining credit scores that most creditors
use, no longer considers notations of debt counseling in its calculations of FICO
scores. The majority of creditors will work with counseling agencies in their attempts
to resolve debt problems. Joining a debt counseling program notifies creditors that
that there is a sincere desire to pay what is owed. They also know from experience
that the likelihood of success increases dramatically in a debt management program.
What should be expected in a program? Be realistic! Do not expect to receive
additional credit during the time in credit counseling. Many creditors will eliminate
benefits if new debt is acquired. Do expect to learn about managing money
and how to avoid similar situations in the future. According to creditors and consumers
who have successfully completed a debt management program, the number one strategy
is: STICK WITH IT! Number two? BE AN ACTIVE PARTICIPANT! Are monthly deposits to
the agency made in a timely manner, so that the agency can send prompt payments
to the creditors? Open statements from creditors. READ THEM. If there are questions
talk to your counseling agency.
Credit Advisors Foundation supplies a client handbook-READ IT! Client handbooks
can help to understand unfamiliar terminology and processes in a debt management
program so that the right questions are asked to get the information needed to make
more informed choices.
Most importantly, find an agency that fits. Work with this agency to accomplish
goals to make a better, more financially sound future. Only the best from the client
and the agency will help in becoming a credit smart consumer!
While we have discussed budgeting numerous time before in Defeat Debt (and will
again), one area of budgeting we have not looked at is your child’s special
day. Trends in the United States centering on our children’s birthdays indicate
parental behaviors reflecting a ‘more is better’ attitude.
Maybe this comes from our consumer society, maybe it has to do with our desires
to ‘keep up with the Jones’, or simply the misguided perception that
this is what our kids want and need. Whatever the reason, birthday celebrations
for children are becoming more difficult to plan than a presentation at work or
even a once-in-a-lifetime wedding.
Children, of course, enjoy recognition at these stepping-stones in life. While tons
of balloons, huge cakes, guest performers, and lots of people may seem fun; it can
be overwhelming to a child. Not to mention, the expense can be overwhelming to your
So what to do?
As you have heard so many time before, the best things in life are free...or at
least, relatively inexpensive. Contact your child’s teacher or day care provider.
They may have some great age-appropriate ideas for the event. Other, ideas? Donate
a copy of your child’s favorite book, in their honor, to the school or local
family shelter. Plan a special ‘lunch date’ (at school or their favorite
restaurant) or picnic with your child. Remember this lunch date can be just you
and your child, not everyone your child knows. Work together with your child on
an activity (baking and icing the cake), hobby, or craft that interests them. Watch
the first video of your child’s life together and tell them the story of how
they became part of your family. Maybe the two of you could draw pictures together
telling this story.
Most importantly, spend quality time with your child. On the special day let your
child know you love them and celebrate them as a special and valuable part of your
Eighty-five more families achieve their American dream of being debt free in October
“It does our heart good to be able to assist these folks in their effort to
be debt free,” said Barry Fouts, vice-president of Client Care at Credit Advisors
Foundation. “These are the people who accepted the challenge to examine their
financial situations, learn their options and set goals for solutions to reach a
How did they do it?
Eighty-five families from across the U.S. followed their dreams and goals to success.
Sticking to their budgets through thick and thin, reading the Defeat Debt newsletter,
reviewing the Credit Advisors Foundation statement sent to them each month, and
comparing it to the creditor statements they received, these clients became credit
smart in managing their debt.
While any one of them could have given in or given up and filed for bankruptcy,
these successful people planned their steps and worked their plans. Even in the
difficult times, when it seemed as if the creditors would never cooperate, or the
income to make payments would not cover all expenses, these CAF clients were motivated
to keep their eyes on the goal—and achieve!
You can achieve it too!
Just follow the leaders. Keep reading the informative articles in Defeat Debt. Check
your creditor statements. Compare them to your Credit Advisors Foundation statements.
Send us any creditor statements showing discrepancies. Make your payments on time.
Access the Credit Advisors website at www.creditadvisors.com. You can
read more informative articles to increase your credit knowledge, access your CAF
account for up to the minute status, make use of interest payment calculators, and
bank rate monitors. Go for the goal and achieve your dreams!
Word Search this month takes a second look at the credit counseling agencies available
to help you achieve your financial goals. Credit Advisors Foundation is a premier
credit counseling agency.
With Holiday Brisket on your table, you’ll look like you worked hard in the
kitchen. What your guests don’t know is it’s only 20 minutes to get
this dish into the oven, and by planning ahead (and buying on sale) only $1.01 per
serving. What a holiday treat!
Remove excess fat from brisket, sprinkle with seasoned pepper and salt. Place flour
in oven cooking bag, shake, and add brisket. Set bag with brisket in roasting pan.
Combine carrots, celery, onions, undrained tomatoes, wine, soup mix, basil and bay
leaves; pour over brisket in bag. Close bag; cut slits in top of bag.
Roast in a 325 degree F oven for 2-1/2 to 3 hours or until tender. Remove bay leaves.
Slice meat across the grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Skim fat from pan juices;
serve with meat.
Makes 12 main-dish servings.