NEW YORK (MainStreet) When Christina Pirtle found herself in substantial debt stemming from hospital and doctor's bills and credit cards, the single mom and student tackled it head on by working with a financial counselor.
Not only did she want to improve her credit score so she could buy a house, Pirtle wanted to be responsible for her financial decisions. She took the first step to reducing her debt by getting help from a counselor at Housing and Credit Counseling, Inc., a National Foundation for Credit Counseling member agency in Topeka, Kan.
The counselor helped Pirtle, a 43-year old senior administrative assistant in the financial aid department at Washburn University in Topeka, prepare a budget, find ways to save money with coupons and search for ways to generate extra income.
While it wasn't easy, Pirtle was able to eliminate $3,132 or 47% of her debt and also paid off her car loan and her washer and dryer in just six months.
"I felt that I wanted to be held accountable for my actions and updating my progress with a counselor not only did that, but she was very encouraging and helped me find resources in my area that I may not have known about on my own," she said. "I think it's a great resource and opportunity to utilize the mentoring and counseling to help you figure out what you need to do to go forward with your goals."
Consumers should conduct a "financial check-up" several times a year, and many people evaluate their finances during the middle of the year, said Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the NFCC.