Agency: Credit Counselling Service of Sault Ste. Marie & District
Topic: Credit Counselling Client’s Testimonials
Since 1969 Credit Counselling Service of Sault Ste. Marie and District has been providing assistance to people of Sault Ste. Marie who are experiencing the stress of debt and money management problems. This non-profit, charitable organization is a United Way Member Agency and an accredited member of the Ontario Association of Credit Counselling Services. They help individuals and families from all walks of life. Whether people make a lot of money or a little, the pressures of credit and maintaining a certain lifestyle can cause debts to get out of control quickly.
Feelings of stress, guilt and being overwhelmed manifest themselves in family arguments, depression and poor job performance - all effecting the individual's ability to make money and repay the debt.
When a person seeks help from the Agency their counsellor will review their financial position and discuss several possible alternatives. All information is held as being fully confidential.
Credit Counselling Service provides budget/money management counselling, intervention with creditors as a third party, organizing debt repayment programs based on ability to pay and providing public education in uses and abuses of credit.
When Fred and Sue (names have been changed to protect the confidentiality) came to the agency they were in a real mess, they owed over $18,000.00 in debt to six credit cards and their car payment. Their payments were over $900.00 per month but since Sue was laid off they haven't been able to keep up with their payments. Two credit cards were in Collection Agencies and the Bank was talking about repossessing their car. Between the nasty phone calls, letters from the creditors and basic pressures of not having enough money, Fred and Sue began to fight. Fred became very depressed and despondent. As Sue said, "It was putting a real strain on our marriage, neither one of us knew what to do...that's when a friend recommended Credit Counselling."
After coming to Credit Counselling Service the counsellor worked out a detailed budget with Fred & Sue and they were surprised to see that after deducting their income from their expenses they were $500.00 short every month to pay their bills. Part of their shortfall was used up by going further into debt each month, charging on their credit cards or taking cash advances. The balance of the shortfall took form in missed payments to creditors.
They were also shocked to find that of their $900.00 debt payment, $300.00 per month was going to interest charges. As Sue said, "that $300.00 is enough for a new car payment and we are just throwing it away every month." After hearing of their options, Fred and Sue decided to go on a debt repayment plan with our agency. They did not want to go bankrupt and they knew they couldn't continue much longer the way they were - they needed help.
The counsellor arranged a program with their creditors where debt payments were reduced from $900.00 to $450.00, which would be made to a trust account with the Agency and disbursed to their creditors on a pro rata basis. The counsellor then returned the credit cards to the credit card companies and Fred and Sue agreed to the terms of no additional credit over the four year debt repayment plan. Six of the seven creditors agreed to stop charging any interest and the program started up right away.
Fred and Sue found living on a cash only budget required some getting used to and found the stress levels had dropped almost immediately. The calls & letters from creditors stopped as did the worries over repossession, garnishment, and bankruptcy. With the worries gone their stress levels went down and they are now getting along much better. They both wish they would have done this a long time ago.