Ask Money

Finding ongoing debt management advice

Chris Farrell Mar 27, 2012

Question: Is it possible to find free/sliding scale ongoing debt counseling? A friend in Louisiana is in her 60s and facing the consequences of years of terrible financial decisions. I think she’s beyond the point where one session of debt counseling could help her. I’ve seen patterns in her that I’ve seen in others who grew up poor: When they were young, they learned there was no way to ever catch up financially and be in control. So she has no sense that it is possible to be in control of her money. Thank you, Robin, Boston, MA

Answer: It’s always upsetting to see a friend or family member struggling with debt. I would advise her to contact the debt counselors at the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. is a reputable organization that has been around for a long time. The cost of counseling is usually zero, and if there is a charge for a service, it’s minimal.

I got in touch with Gail Cunningham, vice president of membership and public relations at NFCC, about setting up an ongoing debt counseling relationship. Here’s what she had to say: “It absolutely is possible. She can be automatically connected to the NFCC Member Agency closest to her by calling (800) 388-2227. She can then make an appointment to receive counseling — either in person, by phone or online (her choice). After the initial session, she can call her counselor or make subsequent appointments as often as needed.”

If it is at all possible, I would make the first couple of appointments in person. Later, a phone call or email query might be enough. I hope she can get some help.

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