How Credit Counseling Works
Guidewell Financial’s certified financial counselors work one-on-one with you to help you get your finances under control. Whether you need a realistic budget, want to improve your credit, learn strategies to help make ends meet, or pay off debt, our goal is to put you on the path toward financial security.
Your privacy is critical to us. We keep everything confidential every step of the way.
How It Works
- Contact us by phone or online to make an appointment with one of our certified counselors. You can arrange a face-to-face meeting in one of our offices or schedule a phone appointment. We’re available day or evening, and we’ll tell you what information you should have ready for your counseling session. When you meet, your counselor will review your income, assets, and debt. Together, you’ll look at all of your expenses, big and small, and see exactly how you’re spending your money.
- We work with you to decide what you must pay and where you can cut back. We’ll help you create a realistic budget based on your after-tax income. The budget will be your monthly plan for paying necessary expenses, reducing debt, and maybe even saving some money. We can suggest lots of ways to adjust your budget.
- What if you have debt you aren’t able to pay off with careful budgeting alone? Our counselors can help you with that, too. They can talk to you about options such as a Debt Management Plan and bankruptcy. We can determine which method of debt resolution is best for you, then guide you through the steps.
- You can start your counseling online at any time with our Create a Budget/Get Started Online tool. Enter what you spend, and see how your totals compare to what you have budgeted. You can adjust information until you send it to us. After you submit your budget information, a credit counselor will follow up with you to complete your counseling session.
Credit Counseling Resources
Budgeting is a critical life skill. Our e-Learning courses explore personal finance topics and suggest tactics to help you develop good money habits. You will also find links to government resources, information and videos.
Credit Counseling FAQs
Do I have too much debt?
If you never have enough money left at the end of the month or you buy things on credit without paying off your full balance each month, these are signs you may be in financial trouble. Most of us can tell when we’re struggling financially; the harder part is knowing how to deal with that situation. If you suspect you’ve taken on too much debt, take action now. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to get back on track. You may also end up owing a lot more to creditors.
Here are some things you can do yourself: If you don’t already live on a budget, set one up. Also look for ways to spend less. For example, downsize your phone package or begin taking your lunch instead of eating out at work. If you’ve already begun to miss or make late payments, call your creditors and explain your situation. They may be willing to work with you.
If you need outside help, Guidewell Financial provides free, confidential budget and financial advice. Click here or call 1-800-571-2227 to learn how or request a financial counseling appointment. The sooner you seek help, the better chance you’ll have to take control of your finances.
How does debt affect my credit score?
These debt-related practices are likely to damage your credit score:
- Missing or making late payments on bills because you’re financially overextended. Why does this hurt your credit score? Because 35% of your score is based on your bill payment history.
- Charging your credit cards at or near their credit limit. Why does this hurt your credit score? Because 30% of your score is determined by your current credit status.
- Not paying your credit card balances in full each month. Why does this hurt your credit score? Because 15% of your score is determined by your credit history.
Are you considering enrolling in Guidewell Financial Solutions Debt Management Program (DMP)? How this affects your credit score will depend on the credit reporting policies of the individual creditors in your program. The financial skills you learn during the program will help you develop habits to improve your credit score.
How can a credit counselor help me?
Your counselor will help you assess where you stand financially and work with you to develop a realistic monthly spending plan based on your monthly net income, living expenses, and debts. You’ll also learn about options to help you resolve your financial situation and receive resources to help you deal with related issues. Financial counseling is available by phone or face-to-face at Guidewell Financial Solutions offices in Maryland and Delaware. The personal information you provide is kept confidential.
What credentials do credit counselors have?
Guidewell Financial is an accredited, non-profit financial advocate that has been a trusted member of the community since 1966. Guidewell Financial does not lend money and is not a collection agency. Annually, we help more than 30,000 people gain the knowledge and skills they need to improve their finances. Our counselors are all professionally trained and certified. When clients come to us, they do not judge. Instead, they listen and provide personalized advice to meet each client’s needs.
What do I need to do to repay my debt and be financially stable?
Throughout your DMP, Guidewell Financial maintains regular contact to ensure you are able to reach your goals. If you have questions, our Client Services department offers ongoing advice and support. We also provide a host of free educational resources, including a quarterly client newsletter, monthly financial e-bulletins, and online personal finance and housing courses and podcasts.