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Credit Counselling: The Overview You've Been Waiting For

by:
Sandra Sherk

When you have a toothache, you make an appointment to see your dentist. When your back is in pain, you schedule a visit to the chiropractor. So doesn’t it make sense to speak with a certified credit counsellor when you’re hurting financially?

A credit counsellor can help you explore your financial options in order to resolve your debt, enabling you to achieve your financial goals and finally move forward with your life.

Your First Credit Counselling Session

If you choose to work with Credit Canada, your initial appointment will involve a credit counsellor performing a full financial assessment that takes a look at your income, expenses, assets, and debts. Delving into the details is necessary for your counsellor to understand exactly where you’re at financially in order to help you explore your options. (Don’t panic, when you book an appointment your counsellor will tell you exactly what information you’ll need to have on hand.)

It’s very important that you’re honest and detailed when it comes to the information you provide during your appointment so that your counsellor has an accurate picture of your finances. One thing we hear over and over again from our clients is how comforted they feel going through the details of their finances with an unbiased professional, because we don’t judge or criticize our clients’ spending. We’re here to seek solutions, not to play the blame-game.

Once the assessment is done, all of your options are laid out on the table for you. Together, you and your counsellor will review each of the options and discuss how they may work to resolve your particular situation. Ultimately, the decision is completely up to you; you aren’t committed to anything by speaking with one of our certified credit counsellors.  Our non-profit credit counselling service is one hundred percent voluntary, confidential, and of course, non-judgemental.

Entering a Debt Consolidation Program

During your appointment, one of the options your counsellor might present to you if you’re dealing with a lot of debt is a Debt Consolidation Program (DCP). This is a process where your credit counsellor will negotiate with your creditors to either stop or significantly reduce the interest on your debt. Then, working with your current budget, expenses and income, your counsellor will develop a repayment schedule that takes all of your unsecured debt and consolidates it into one monthly payment.

If you decide that a DCP is your best option and you’d like to move forward, you will need to read and sign a Deposit Agreement that will outline your payments, as well as your responsibilities as a client and our responsibilities as the agency managing your DCP. The Deposit Agreement will also describe how you can make your monthly payments, as well as what happens to your credit cards once you’re on a DCP. After you’ve signed the Agreement, your counsellor will notify your creditors that you're signing onto a DCP and then get their acceptance on the proposed repayment schedule.

Who Pays the Bills in a Debt Consolidation Program?

In a DCP with Credit Canada, you continue to be the master of your finances. We do not take control of your paycheques; we just handle your debt. So while we take care of sending your monthly payment to your creditors each and every month, you will continue to pay your rent, utilities, groceries, etc. All you have to worry about is sending your monthly payment to our agency on time until your debts have been paid in full, or until you decide that you want to resume direct payments to your creditors. 

Will Someone Help Me With My Budget?

Your counsellor will help you set up a monthly budget or spending plan, so that you can better maintain your expenses and payments while you’re on a DCP. They will also check in with you from time-to-time to see how the budget is working for you and if any adjustments need to be made. Plus, the Credit Canada staff is always available to answer any questions or concerns you might have throughout the entire duration of your program, which usually takes just 36 to 48 months.

How Expensive is a Debt Consolidation Program?

All of our counselling is free; it costs you nothing to meet with a counsellor and receive a Debt Assessment. Then, if you decide to enter into a Credit Canada DCP, there is an initial set-up fee of just $50. After that, a small portion (no more than 10 percent) of your monthly payment goes toward managing your account. Your counsellor will show you exactly how it is calculated and how much you would be saving in interest charges despite this small fee. Our counsellors will never recommend an option if it doesn’t make sense for you financially; their only goal is to help you save money and live a debt-free life! This is all clearly outlined to you before anything is signed; we want you to feel completely confident in your decision.

There's No Shame in Asking For Help

People from all walks of life experience financial difficulties for numerous reasons, whether it’s an unexpected illness, sudden job loss, or change in income. In my many years as a counsellor, I have had the pleasure of helping people of all ages and all income levels. Debt does not discriminate—it does not know age, income, educational, or economic background!

Following the successful completion of a DCP, we often hear back from our clients about how their counsellor and the Credit Canada program has enabled them to get back on track financially. Debt help is available, and the outcomes can be awesome: You develop a comfortable spending plan, you learn to live within your means, collection calls stop, debt balances decrease every month, and you will be completely debt-free at the end of the program. Sound good? This entire credit counselling process can start with just one click.

Many say the first step is the hardest, but a certified credit counsellor makes it easier by guiding you through all of your options, explaining the pros and cons of each, and then giving you the steps necessary to resolve the issues you’re dealing with. All you have to do is give us a call at 1-800-267-2272 and we’ll book your free appointment. Now that’s not so hard, is it?

Free Debt Assesment

Topics: Credit Counselling

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