Dealing with debt? Don’t be afraid to ask for help – NBC Connecticut

Debt can be debilitating. Although student loans and mortgages are widely discussed, credit card debt is so stigmatized, but it shouldn’t be.

There’s help out there – just ask Maura Donovan.

Donovan just bought a new house, but not too long ago the Springfield resident found herself with more than $25,000 in credit card debt.

And, she doesn’t blame the obsession with shoes or the big items, but rather the simple things, the basics.

“Even like cold medicine or hairspray or whatever. After a while it adds up and you keep swiping that card and you don’t even realize it,” she said.

And when Donovan couldn’t pay his bills on time, the debt snowballed.

“And after probably a few months of phone calls because I was late and I had a salary and all you pay is a minimum and you don’t do any damage, I finally sat down and I I was like, “Okay, I have to do something,” Donovan said.

She searched online and found Money Management International, the nonprofit organization officially known as “Consumer Credit Counseling Services.”

MMI said their credit and housing advice is still provided free to consumers, although a quarter of their customers subscribe to a specific management plan for a small fee.

MMI’s financial educators helped Donovan create a payment plan and they set up concessions with major creditors. This means they can negotiate lower interest rates for people who are struggling to pay their bills, while helping them improve their credit score.

“So on average, that lowers interest rates from about 24% to 7%, so most of your payment goes to principal rather than interest,” said Thomas Nitzsche, MMI’s financial educator. .

MMI said don’t be afraid to seek help when you’re in debt, whether it’s from a counseling service like theirs or even by calling 2-1-1.

They say the sooner you seek advice, the better.

“So if you stop making payments on a credit card, you usually have about three months before that card company either sells it or transfers it to a collection agency. , it becomes much more difficult for us to help,” Nitzsche said.

With MMI management, Donovan said she paid off her debt sooner.

She hopes you’re not ashamed to ask for help like she did.

“My intention was always to pay my bills, but I either fell behind or was overwhelmed by them. So it’s not, you’re not a bad person because of that. You’re right, I needed to learn a lesson. I mean, I learned it the hard way,” she said.

Now Donovan is debt free with a condo she calls her own.

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