How to Handle Your First Credit Counselling Session

How to Handle Your First Credit Counselling Session

Written by Caitlin Wood
Last Updated January 11, 2021

Credit counselling may seem like a drastic step to you, but in reality it’s a great first step to take if you’re currently feeling like your debt is taking over your life. Deciding what type of debt relief you want to commit to is a very personal decision and with the right professional help you can learn about your options and figure out how to get back on track. Speaking with a credit counselor will provide you with the peace of mind that you a better financial future is possible for you.

The unknown can be pretty intimidating especially when debt and credit are involved, to help you be as prepared as possible for your first credit counselling session we’ve compiled all the information you need to know.

How to Get in Contact With a Credit Counselor

There are two ways you can get in contact with a credit counselor; it’s completely up to personal preference so you can choose whichever option best suits your lifestyle or schedule. You can set up an in person meeting with your credit counselor at their office or over the phone, for convenience sake, you can also chose to complete the process online.

You’ll find that there is a difference between speaking with a credit counselor in person or over the phone and with starting the process online. To help you make the best choice, here’s what you should expect:

By Phone or in Person

Online

You’ll get a detailed walk through of the whole process from your credit counselor.You’ll need to go through the process on your own and do your own research should you have any questions.
You’ll have a better understanding of what a credit counselor needs and is looking for because they’ll be there to tell you.You might feel like you’re out of the loop, but don’t worry as the process continues you’ll start to understand more.
You’ll develop a relationship with your counselor early on as you’ll probably speak with on the regular basis.The online experience is less personal, but for many people this is exactly what they want.
Your counselor can help you complete the process immediately so you can get on with your life.There will be slightly more back and forth with the online process and you probably won’t be able to finish it in one day.
You’ll need to be prepared right away as in person or over the phone meetings are typically scheduled for a certain amount of time.You’ll feel less rushed as there won’t be an actual person in front of you or on the phone. This means you can take your time and make sure all your information is accurate.

To start your journey to financial recovery you need to take the first step, credit counselling can be that great first step you’ve been looking for. It will help you determine what the problems are with your finances and then create a personal solution to help you become debt free.

Do I Need to Bring Anything to My First Session?

To have a productive first meeting you’ll need to have the following information for your credit counselor:

  1. Your net income ( the actual amount you bring home after taxes)
  2. Credit card debt information: current balance(s), APR, current monthly payment
  3. The payments you’re currently making on any other debts (mortgage etc.)
  4. Estimated budget of your monthly expenses (gas, food etc.)
  5. Possibly your credit report, it will depend on your counselor

Your credit counselor will use all of this information to provide you with the best possible solution for your current debt problem. Each person is different so make sure you give your counselor the most accurate information possible as this will allow them to create the best solution for you.

What to Expect After Your First Session

Once your first session is complete and your counselor was able to finish the analysis, you can expect your counselor to provide you with plan. If your debt isn’t too serious your counselor may simply provide you with a budget and teach how to better track your earnings and spending.

If your debt is extensive you’re counselor will probably suggest that you enter a debt management program. You’ll probably be able to continue to work with the same counselor until the program is finished, this is great as you’ll already have a working relationship with them.

Your counselor will work with your creditors on your behalf to negotiate lower interest rates and make sure you’re getting the best deal possible. Whatever credit relief you choose to pursue, remember that that a credit counselor is a great asset to have when trying to pay down your debts.

Caitlin is a graduate of Dawson College and Concordia University and has been working in the personal finance industry for over eight years. She believes that education and knowledge are the two most important factors in the creation of healthy financial habits. She also believes that openly discussing money and credit, and the responsibilities that come with them can lead to better decisions and a greater sense of financial security. One of the main ways she’s built good financial habits is by budgeting and tracking her spending through the YNAB budgeting app. She also automates her savings so she never forgets to put aside a portion of her income into her TFSA. She believes investing and passive income is key to earning financial freedom. She also uses her Aeroplan TD credit card to collect Aeroplan points so that she can save money when she travels.

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