By Mark Foster Carmen Harmon of Rogers, a single mom of three children who went through an emotionally difficult divorce that sent her finances into a downward spiral, was selected as the COA Debt Free Client of the Year. In the years following the divorce, she had accumulated $82,000 of credit card debt. She also bought a home, but was unable to sell her previous home, so she was burdened with making two monthly mortgage payments. The resulting financial stress gave her a high level of anxiety. By July 2011, the fog of the previous years was beginning to lift and she began to see that she needed some help. She made an appointment to see CCOA’s Bentonville financial counselor, Mark Jones, who assessed her financial situation and they created a budget. Carmen’s 11 credit cards were late and her overall average interest rate on the cards was over 28%. She went on the Debt Management Program (DMP), which lowered her interest rate average to 4.77%! The DMP also reduced the $7,600 needed to bring her accounts current down to $1,564. As she repaid her debt back in full, her credit score went up. Changes were made to the family’s spending and Carmen began learning a lot about personal finances from her counselor. “I never really paid attention to finances before,” Carmen admits, “because my father, and then my husband, handled most of that.” During the four and a half years, Carmen was on the DMP, her counselor helped her with other various financial issues, including cost-efficient ways to obtain a car for one of her oldest children, finding affordable ways to get her children through college and more. “I can’t tell you how much of a positive impact this program has made in my life. It has completely turned my life around and now I can see a successful future for me and my children.” Carmen says. As you can see, credit counseling is not a mere band-aid approach. It’s comprehensive counseling on credit and debt issues, establishing a budget and providing essential education on numerous personal finance issues that can have a positive impact on you and your entire family. Not to mention the benefits of a DMP to become debt free. If you are concerned about how debt is standing in the way of a better life, make an appointment with an NFCC certified credit counselor for a brighter financial future today!
Friday November 4, 2016/