Sioux Falls, SD
Some 80 percent of Americans polled just last month say that money troubles keep them up at night.
But you don't have to face financial troubles alone. But not many people take advantage of financial counseling.
But for one couple drowning in debt, it was a life preserver.
Stan and Lonnie Gruneich never thought they'd be the ones asking for help. Stan is a pastor and Lonnie was a 911 dispatcher. But when an injury sidelined Lonnie from her job, the loss of income was financially devastating.
"Right away we were $700 short a month," Gruneich said.
The Gruneichs had planned to pay down debt and save for retirement, but with medical bills piling up, that wasn't possible.
"We didn't have enough savings. We had too much credit card debt," Gruneich said.
So they turned to the Center for Financial Resources for financial counseling.
"One-third of all Americans have debt in collections right now. This is not an uncommon problem, and yet people continue to suffer in silence and not get help for something that's easy, in most cases, to deal with," Breck Miller of the Center for Financial Resources said.
"I'm a pastor, I'm a professional. I'm supposed to help people. I didn't take care of myself. I have two master’s degrees. That's an embarrassment," Gruneich said.
Getting over that embarrassment and seeking help meant the Gruneichs were able to reduce their payments by $350 a month. The Center for Financial Resources debt management plan only cost them $25 a month. And the Gruneichs also did their part.
“We had to change our lifestyle. We had to change what we believed we needed--less eating out, everything had to change in order for us to have the dream," Gruneich said.
And that dream was retirement and this new home they just moved into. In two years they were able to pay down their debt and raise their credit score enough to get a home loan.
The Gruneichs also took the Center for Financial Resources home buyer course before they made their purchase. They paid off ten credit cards and say they now have the education they need to stay out of debt.
Some people are worried that financial counseling could have a negative impact on their credit score. That only happens if the debt is reduced by the creditor and written off, not if interest rates are lowered.
It costs about $30 to sit down with a financial counselor to go over your options.
Center for Financial Resources
Your Money Matters