Free Credit Counseling Resources: Getting Help From Nonprofits and the Government
“You’ve got to spend money to make money.” This bit of wisdom has been passed down through entrepreneurs forever, but what about when you don’t have any money to begin with? How can you get out of this hole if you don’t have a ladder? There are plenty of ways to reverse the situation if you’ve got resources, but it seems there’s nothing to be done if can’t you pay.
At least, that’s what it looks like. The truth is, with a little investigation, you can find some resources for free. Credit counseling is a process that aims to educate you about your financial options. That might include constructing a better budget, enrolling in a debt payment plan, or just learning financial basics. Your credit will also benefit as well. The best news of all, though, is that these services are often available for free.
Nonprofits Offering Credit Counseling
- The National Federation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) is the oldest nonprofit dedicated to credit counseling, and they certify other organizations as well. They don’t turn people away, and have locations throughout the nation.
- GreenPath Debt Solutions has free educational materials, including games, calculators, and webinars.
- Credit.org is certified by the NFCC and offers full online courses for free!
Most legitimate credit counseling agencies are nonprofits. However, this doesn’t mean that they are completely cost-free, only that they don’t intend to make a profit from their proceeds. According to the Federal Trade Commission, reputable credit counselors should offer educational information for free and many have free initial meetings. What’s more, they advise that any organization that will not help you unless you pay should be avoided. To find this help, check out any credit counseling agency with your Attorney General’s website, or refer to the list below:
Governmental Credit Counseling
A nonprofit will hold your hand through the process. Free governmental resources, not so much. However, you might not need the guided approach. If you aren’t completely lost, it might be a better idea to turn to some government finance education.
- The Federal Trade Commission has several free publications dealing with financial literacy, in English and Spanish.
- You can use your Attorney General’s website for more than just verifying nonprofits too. They also probably have links to free financial resources, just like Idaho’s does.
- Furthermore, during the first full week of March, there is a National Consumer Protection Week. Many community organizations and local councils hold events during that time to better education their citizens.
…. And More!
Of course, there are plenty of other free financial resources besides nonprofits and governmental agencies. Fiscal Tiger is one of them! And while many of these free resources provide only the best advice, there is nothing to certify their opinion. These options are certainly great to provide some background knowledge so that you can make a better decision yourself, but don’t put your faith in anyone without knowing their qualifications and certifications.
This is your money we’re talking about. Just because these are free services doesn’t mean that someone isn’t trying to scam you. Keep your head on your shoulders, do your research, and you can leave this situation with less debt and more financial wisdom.
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Dayton is a chronic Wikipedia addict, which is detrimental to her social life but stellar for her writing. She resides in Boise, ID, surrounded by her own frantic outlines, highlighted encyclopedias, and potatoes. The latter was not by choice.
This post was updated October 23, 2017. It was originally published October 25, 2017.