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Credit Counseling and Debt Consolidation—What’s the Difference?

credit counseling and debt consolidation

When you’re struggling with debt,  you just want to make it go away. But the number of options for assistance can seem overwhelming. You can choose credit counseling, debt consolidation, or debt management. Some companies even promise to settle your debt for you, although the Federal Trade Commission warns that debt settlement programs can carry risks and may create even more problems for you financially.

Understanding the difference between credit counseling and debt consolidation can help you get on the path to a debt-free life.

Credit Counseling and Debt Consolidation -- What Are The Differences?

Credit Counseling 

Credit counseling isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Counseling can take several forms. You can meet with a certified counselor and work through a budget and action plan to tackle your debt on your own. You can also meet with a credit counselor who will guide you through the process of creating a debt management plan.

Typically, credit counseling takes a big-picture look at your financial health. Your debt might be a focal point of your counseling sessions, but it will most likely not be the only thing you and your counselor will discuss. Your counselor will need to take a look at your larger financial picture to help you decide how to handle your debt. 

Basically, credit counseling is a process that allows a someone who struggles with debt address their finances, their debt and learn to keep the debt cycle from repeating. Credit counseling can happen by phone, in person, or online. If you want to understand of what happens when you speak to a credit counselor we created a simple guide that explains what to expect on your first call.

Debt Consolidation 

During credit counseling, your counselor might recommend a form of debt consolidation to help you get your financial life in order.

You can work with a counselor to create a debt management plan. Working with a counselor can be particularly useful, as they can negotiate a lower interest rate for you than you’d get on your own. When you work with a nonprofit credit counseling company, you make the monthly payment to them, and they  pays the companies you owe. This consolidates your multiple payments into one payment

If you’re struggling with debt, you don’t have to choose between credit counseling or debt consolidation. For many people, counseling leads to debt consolidation or a debt management plan. You can work to consolidate your debts on your own without speaking with a counselor by trying to obtain a debt consolidation loan, but qualifying for a large loan can be challenging. A certified counselor can provide helpful support and advice such as how to budget your money to avoid falling into debt in the future or how to set and reach specific financial goals.

If debt is holding you back, it is important work with an expert who can help you learn how to handle your debt for good.

If you are experiencing financial difficulty and are looking for a solution, non-profit credit counseling can help you make sense of all your options. ​Contact us today for a free financial assessment with one of our certified credit counselors.

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