Credit counseling is a place of last resort for consumers who have never learned the basics of credit and debt management. Despite the fact that we live in a world where credit has replaced currency or income as the means to make purchases and even for the basics of life, very few people understand the basic principles that underline our credit-based consumer society. That’s why every year millions of Americans go bankrupt or are forced to undergo credit counseling, debt reorganizing, or debt consolidation just to stave off that black mark on their credit ratings.
Most of us end up with unmanageable debt or serious credit problems through a series of bad decisions, bad luck, and poor knowledge of how the system works. We are often lured into the credit and debt trap very young through advertising, peer pressure, and the desire to be popular. What teenage girl can do without the latest tank top or shoes? What self-respecting teenage boy can be without the current pants or running shoes? What student can afford to be without food and accommodation as they go through college? We start young without any knowledge and the only experience that we pick up, as we get older is that we can get more credit when our current supply runs out. Without the necessary knowledge to begin with it’s a wonder that any of us can survive early adulthood without credit counseling.
What we need from the very beginning is a course on credit in high school, a refresher in college, and a supplemental course in debt management every time we get another credit card or increase our credit card limits. If not, then it’s no wonder that if our knowledge doesn’t increase then our credit problems will. As we end up telling our credit counseling service years down the road, “ I didn’t realize how deep I was getting in.” Once we realize that it is too late. The basics of credit and debt management are not rocket science material. They are very simple. Only borrow what you can afford to repay in a reasonable period of time. If your income decreases then you must spend less and not borrow more. Pay back what you borrow at the agreed upon times and in the agreed upon amounts. Never borrow to buy anything you can consume; you should be able to afford it now or you should not buy it. Finally, never use one credit card to make a payment on another credit card. If you follow these few basic steps then you should not only be able to avoid credit counseling through proper debt management, you will have a happier and less stressful life.