5 Signs You Need a Financial Counselor

Monday, December 17, 2018

Closeup on a hand holding a credit card.

Sometimes it can be hard to let others know that you're having a rough go of it, and that you could use a helping hand.

SAFE’s free, in-house financial counselor, Donna Holmes, brings over three decades of experience to bear with her remedial counseling clients.

Think that you might be a candidate for remedial financial counseling? Not quite sure if it's for you? Afraid to reach out and ask for the help you need? Here are a few common indicators that you might need outside help from a counseling professional to navigate your debt repayments successfully.

1. It’s a struggle to build an emergency fund

If you can’t set aside even a few dollars a month to save for healthcare emergencies or other unpredictable expenses, this should be a major red flag for you.

2. You’ve got a high debt-to-income (DTI) ratio

You’re probably asking yourself: what is a debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, anyway? It’s basically all of your monthly minimum payments divided by your gross monthly income.

Experts say that if your DTI ratio exceeds 36%, then you’re in the red, and you need to seriously adjust your financial behaviors to get that number in a healthier range.

3. Overdraft fees are a constant for you

If you’re constantly scraping the bottom of the barrel, financially speaking, that’s a clear indication that you’re withdrawing more than you’re putting in.

What is all of that money going toward? Are you paying down debts, covering everyday necessities (from groceries to gas, medical bills, and more), or frittering away your hard-earned cash on frivolous expenses?

4. Minimum monthly payments are all you can afford

If you’re trying to pay down that personal loan or credit card but can’t afford to give up more than the monthly minimum, you’re in a bind.

Long term, you’ll be paying significantly more than you originally owed, since interest rates will be tacked on over the life of your loan.

5. You’ve considered filing for bankruptcy

Here’s a bit of unsolicited advice: don’t take this step until you’ve spoken with a trusted advisor or a qualified financial counselor about your situation.

Filing for bankruptcy can do lasting damage to your credit score, not to mention inhibit your opportunities for financing in the future.

Financial counselors can help you plan in a way that severely limits any long-term devastation to your financial well-being. Plus, they’re a huge help in navigating the treacherous world of debt-relief, where there are scammer and con artists galore.

Ready to pursue remedial counseling services through SAFE?

Download and fill out your application form, then contact Donna Holmes, our in-house financial counselor, for information on how to submit it. You can reach Donna directly at 1-800-763-8600, ext. 2211 if you have any questions.