1. Pull Your Credit Report:
This is the fastest way to spot a problem, or accounts/lines of credit that are about to be a problem. You can pull 1 credit report a year for FREE, from each of the 3 major credit bureaus.
This won’t affect your credit. A good habit is to run a credit report every 4 months, rotating through the three bureaus: Experian, Equifax and Trans Union. (Ex: pull Experian in January, Equifax in May, and Trans Union in September.)
Go to https://www.annualcreditreport.com/ to obtain a report from any of the 3 bureaus. This is the only trusted website for pulling your FREE credit reports. Due to the pandemic you can pull reports from ALL 3 bureaus WEEKLY!!
The report themselves are free, but the actual score is not. If you are trying to build your credit score, it could be worth it to pay a few dollars to get your current score to know where you’re starting out, or how much progress you have made.
*TIP* Credit Karma is good for monitoring your credit, but the score they give you is NOT a TRUE FICO score. It is a ‘Vantage Score’ and it tends to be 20-40 points higher than your actual FICO score. If you’re pulling a report from Annual Credit Report website and you are trying to build your score to get a home or a car, PAY a couple of dollars and get your score. Know exactly where you stand before you apply for financing.
Financial coaching services are becoming more and more popular. And for good reason. Working with the right coach can be completely life-changing.
I have 3 different coaching services I offer. A 90-minute financial impact assessment if you just need to discuss your situation and plan with a financial professional to make sure you are headed in the right direction.
If you feel like it will take a little more time to get a plan together then my 30-day coaching program might be all you need. And of course, for the best results, I offer personalized 1 on 1 monthly coaching.
I often recommend that you first schedule a FREE 30-minute discovery call to discuss which coaching programs would be a good fit for you and your situation. You can schedule a no pressure discovery call with me HERE.
3. Consumer Credit Counseling Services (CCC’s):
There are plenty of companies that offer these services, but just because they are a ‘non-profit’ doesn’t mean they don’t charge a fee. Anyone that goes through the Bankruptcy process is required to take Credit Counseling classes.
But there are some great companies out there that can help when you can’t afford coaching or other financial crisis resources. The FTC already has a thorough article to help you find reputable CCC’s. You can find everything you need to know HERE. [https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/choosing-credit-counselor]
4. CAUTION: Against debt settlement, debt consolidation, debt relief and pay to ‘Do it FOR you’ companies:
I can get somewhat “heated” when it comes to these types of companies. They often charge 20-25% of your TOTAL debt to put you through their program which destroys your credit and doesn’t help you understand how you got into your situation.
Many who go through these programs often end up owing more than they did to start, and/or quickly find themselves in financial crisis again. It’s rare that they enroll ALL of your unsecured debts into their ‘program’ which doesn’t actually help to consolidate everything down to ‘one monthly payment.’
They destroy your credit by stopping all payments to your creditors so they can try to negotiate unrealistic payment terms once the debts go into collections. This could take 6 months or more (tossing your credit score down the drain) so they can settle the debt for probably the same settlement they would have offered directly to you the consumer.
I am going to again recommend THIS article by the FTC before agreeing to any program or paying any of these companies. [https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/choosing-credit-counselor]
5. State and Federal assistance programs:
Find your nearest local Job & Family Services. Places like these can let you know what companies, services, and Government assistance options are available in your area. These can range from mortgage/rent assistance, food, employment, utility assistance, and much more for those in financial hardship.
This is often a zero-cost option, so it would be worth the time going to talk with someone.
If you’re reading this blog post, you are probably struggling and spinning your wheels and wasting precious time. Get unstuck, and schedule a free 30-minute discovery call with me!! I can help point you in the right direction EVEN if all you have right now is $0 (ZERO) dollars!!
Book a FREE 30-Minute Discovery Call!!
*Situations vary from creditor to creditor or from state to state.
*Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only. All materials and information do not constitute financial advice. Always consult a financial professional before making financial decisions.
Author - Kyra Jones
Debt and financial crisis coach