If you are getting prepared for your first credit counseling meeting, you might be worried about what to expect and feel some hesitation about having to admit your need of third-party help. You are not alone. There are many people who have decided to get help before it was too late. Getting your finances back on track with a focus on recovering from debt is nothing to be ashamed of and meeting with a professional is certainly a step in the right direction.
Knowing what to expect from your first meeting can help take some of the edge off of your nerves. Here is a basic overview of what typically occurs during your first credit counseling meeting:
Basic Information Verification
The first part of your meeting will involve a verification and overview of your information. You’ll need to disclose your name, address, contact phone for work and home, and your Social Security number. This will allow the counselor to verify you are who you say you are.
Your counselor will need you to be upfront about your finances. They need to know where you stand so they can provide advice on which direction you need to focus. The counselor will need to have an accurate account of your monthly income and expenses, as well as a detailed list of who you are paying each month. You should bring all of your billing statements for each creditor and account that is your financial responsibility as well as all of your pay stubs for the last few months. They will need to have an understanding of the balance due, minimum payments owned, and interest rates. It is best to have compiled all of this information beforehand so you do not waste time trying to put it all together during the meeting. During the initial call to set up the meeting, be sure to inquire about the list of items you should bring with you.
Overview of Solutions
Once your counselor has a clear picture of where you stand financially, they will be able to provide you with an overall financial analysis. They will be able to lay out your options for eliminating debt in the fastest way possible that is conducive to your financial abilities. They will be able to ‘run the numbers’ for you and calculate what it would take to become debt-free from credit cards and other financial obligations within a certain period of time. In addition to a personalized plan they can help you put into place, they will also provide reference materials for you to continue being proactive about your finances and to prevent debt problems from afflicting your life in the future.
A reputable credit counselor will be forthcoming and open to answering all of your questions and concerns. It is your responsibility to ensure you understand all of your options and ask all the questions you have before leaving your session. It would be a good idea to prepare a list of questions you have before entering the meeting so that you do not become overwhelmed with information and forget what you want to say.
The hardest part of the process may be gathering all of your detailed information but with patience and planning, your first credit counseling meeting should help bring some relief in that you have options for combating debt. Counselors see clients with debt problems every day and they are licensed, trained, and respectful of your debt situations. They should be a key motivator in helping you get started back on the right financial foot.