By Linda Doell
NEW YORK (MoneyTalksNews) — If you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to get into better financial shape this year, you’re not alone. In fact, spending less and saving more are among the top resolutions, ranking even higher than spending more time with loved ones, according to the University of Scranton’s Journal of Clinical Psychology.
But sometimes it’s not enough to simply resolve to build a better budget or pay off high credit card balances. Sometimes things are so far gone they require outside help.
If you’re overweight and don’t understand how to properly exercise, you might enlist the services of a personal trainer. If you’re overburdened by debt, you should turn to a nonprofit credit counselor for help.
Fortunately, finding help with such things as budgeting and debt is a lot cheaper than hiring a personal trainer. In the video below, Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson offers insight. Check it out, then read on …
How to find help
If you’ve got a debt problem, the right credit counselor can help. Many offer their services via local offices, online or over the phone. As with many fields, though, this one has its share of bad apples. Here’s how to pick the right counselor:
1. Check credit counseling associations
When searching for a credit counselor, a good rule of thumb is to start with members of the industry’s two major trade groups, the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies or the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
Members of these associations agree to follow fair business practices, take continuing education and employ only accredited counselors, among other things.
The U.S. Department of Justice also keeps a list of approved credit counseling agencies as required under the federal bankruptcy code. But just because an agency appears on the federal list doesn’t mean you should skip your due diligence.
2. Look for complaints
Never deal with any credit counseling organization without this step. Check the Better Business Bureau and your state’s attorney general’s office for consumer complaints, as well as online complaint sites.