Get Control of Your Credit: The Benefits of Affinity’s Free Credit Counseling Services By Katie Sapio, Business Development Officer, Affinity Federal Credit Union Credit management is a crucial, but daunting, step on the path to financial wellness. Many consumers find credit tricky to navigate and almost everyone has debt, which by nature affects credit. In 2020, the average consumer debt was $92,7271 , taking into account auto loans, mortgages, student loans, credit cards, etc. The pandemic has created financial hardships for many individuals and families, often resulting in more debt. This can be hard to handle if you’re not equipped with the right resources and knowledge. Credit doesn’t have to be scary. You can manage and readily build your credit with regular monitoring and professional guidance. Affinity members have access to free credit counseling, one of the many benefits we offer. Our credit counseling services are provided through two highly regarded organizations, Navicore Solutions and Consolidated Credit. Utilizing one of these free resources will help you form a clearer picture of your credit, create a sensible budget, and slowly work to reduce and pay off any outstanding debt. Credit counseling does much more than tell you what your credit score is; it explains that score and provides insight on how to improve your entire financial situation. Your credit counselor will help you understand what affects your score, both positively and negatively, and which factors have the greatest impact. This knowledge is essential to managing your credit and creating a plan to improve it. Credit seems less overwhelming when you understand how it works. There are many ways to build credit, and your credit counselor can provide personalized suggestions on what methods will work best for you, with all aspects of your financial situation considered. Depending on your situation, debt may be dragging down your score. If your credit counselor thinks it would be beneficial, they may suggest that you adopt a debt management plan. This approach gives you an opportunity to improve your credit score, and your finances as a whole, by making steady and manageable payments. Your counselor will work with you to ensure any plan you initiate is appropriate and help guide you toward becoming debt free. In addition to credit and debt management, your member-benefit counselor can assist with monitoring your finances by creating a budget that works for you. Budgeting may be difficult but is necessary for better financial health. A counselor can offer insight on how to reduce spending to ensure you have enough money to cover the essentials. They will work with you to understand your unique financial wellness needs and goals, and can help set you on a path toward achieving them. Knowing that your bills will be paid on time, while you are also building up savings, provides great peace of mind. Managing your money doesn’t need to be intimidating, especially when you have expert professional assistance right at your fingertips. If you think that you could benefit from credit counseling, check out our Consumer Credit Counseling Services webpage to learn more! This information is for informational purposes only and is intended to provide general guidance and does not constitute legal, tax, or financial advice. Each person’s circumstances are different and may not apply to the specific information provided. You should seek the advice of a financial professional, tax consultant, and/or legal counsel to discuss your specific needs before making any financial or other commitments. 1 ”Average U.S. Consumer Debt Reaches New Record in 2020.” Experian, April. 2021.