Who to call when you need help with financial matters

09/24/2020

At different points in our life, we all will need assistance on a financial matter. Where you turn to get that help is extremely important because the wrong information can lead to unforeseen financial problems. Fortunately, there are several resources available to you.
 
If a person has general questions about financial rights and responsibilities, what’s a good source?
The very first place to go would be the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or CFPB. This is the Federal agency whose purpose is to help protect consumers by providing them with information, steps and tools to make smarter financial decisions.
 
Where should people who are experiencing financial hardships look for help?
One good place to start is with a nonprofit credit counseling agency because they are generally free or low cost for counseling and the only fees are if you enroll in a debt management plan. The Federal Trade Commission has a list of questions to confirm that you are talking to a legitimate agency.  You can also look for local resources from state agencies that might focus on specific concerns such as housing.
 
Are there any moves to make before reaching a distressed situation?
Always reach out to lenders and service providers and explain your situation. Before you become severely past due there are generally more options available than if you wait until you are several months past due. Service providers like hospitals might have payment plans available or other resources that can be help but generally you need to ask for the help.
 
Who are good resources if you just want to improve your situation?
Financial planners and financial advisors are always good options if you want help in building a better future. Many times these will be fee based plans, either a one-time fee or a monthly fee depending upon what option fits your situation and the help you need. Once again, always thoroughly research any provider before making a commitment.
 
Are there any resources for people who might need financial assistance?
What many people might find surprising is that there are several government programs that offer financial assistance for many different scenarios including: home energy bills, internet and phone, child care, down payment for buying a home and even college tuition. Eligibility varies and the programs are offered by a myriad of Federal Agencies. Unfortunately, many people who are eligible don’t know about these programs or assume they are not eligible.
 
Are there ways to build your self-knowledge on financial topics?
Building your knowledge about financial issues is extremely important as it allows you to better understand when you do seek out advice. There are several methods from reading reputable magazines, blogs and books on financial matters to following people or organizations on social media. Have a goal of reading two financial articles or reports each month and you will be surprised how you will better understand the financial decisions you need to make.

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