Tacoma woman sheds $22,000 in debt: How a debt counselor helped get her there

“I would say it feels like you’re drowning, and you don’t have air. Like you’re trying to come up and it’s very stressful.”

Misty Douglas faced rough financial seas to pay off more than $22,000 in debt, especially in this economy.

Gas prices, food, and your especially if you’re a household with one income. Then you’re struggling and you’re needing to pull on other resources to cover those costs for the monthly expenses kind of thing.”

But Misty got through it by getting help from people like Thomas Nitzsche from the non-profit credit counseling center Money Management International.

“We’re seeing both an increase in the number of clients who are reaching out for assistance. It’s up about 45% year over year, as well as the average level of debt that they’re carrying, which is up about 26% year over year.”

Misty was facing not only the debt, but also the interest at nearly 29%. Money Management stepped was able to help.

“We can look at reducing the rates by working with their creditors in a debt management plan which consolidates all their debt into one monthly payment and reduces the interest rate down to an average of about 7%.”

Looking at her statement the interest on Misty’s debts fell quickly. And her largest single debt of $9k was reduced to 0% interest.

She recently became debt-free after paying $500 a month, for four years. Minimum payments would have had her on the hook for decades.

Misty found MMI through her job. Many employers have NFCC organizations listed through their employee assistance programs.

But the Better Business Bureau says be very careful trying to find a counselor on your own.

Logan Hickle, from the BBB said they received over 12,700 complaints and negative reviews about debt repair, consolidation, relief companies since 2020.

The BBB reports that their scam tracker found 2.4 million dollars in losses consumers reported on scam companies. And, the Federal Trade Commission received 80 thousand similar complaints from 2020 to June 2023.

Danielle Turner, a credit counselor with American Financial Solutions says you can get started with counseling with a debt as low as $1500.

We work with anybody who has a fixed income all the way to making $200,000 a year. It doesn’t really matter.”

What does really matter is the relief consumers earn, and the lessons that can be passed on for a lifetime.

The place to find a qualified debt counselor is here, at the National Foundation of Credit Counseling.