Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — affectionately dubbed “The Steel City” — has come a long way from its blue-collar industry roots. Many of its workers now hold down high-profile, white-collar jobs. There are lawyers, bankers, technology specialists, world-renowned physicians, and many more. Thanks to employers like UPMC, Highmark, Google, Amazon, and BNY Mellon, to name just a few, many of these individuals earn stable middle-class or upper-class incomes. Some work 60-plus hours a week to make those incomes. Even with our current workforce in stable condition, Pittsburghers are not impervious to debt troubles. Believe it or not, some of them need financial help, credit counseling services, or debt management plans.
If you find this fact hard to believe, consider this quote from an Associated Press wire story: “53 percent of middle-class people said they had to cut spending because money was tight. Nearly one in five, or 18 percent, said they had trouble getting or paying for medical care while 10 percent reported they had been laid off or otherwise lost their jobs.”
Pittsburgh professionals aren’t immune to credit card debt and bad debt management program strategies. The more people earn, the more they can afford to spend, and reckless spending gone unchecked can get people into serious financial trouble. Time is another major factor. Many of these time-strapped professionals are ordering lunch and dinner out and coffee too every day. Their shopping decisions are dictated by convenience, and not by economics or a budget.
Consumer debt has forced many Americans to live in poverty or just slightly above it. Many people are living an uncertain and insecure existence despite having employment and the appearance of a comfortable life. For these individuals, the payments on the debt they owe is preventing them from having an emergency fund, it keeps them from enjoying any of the leisure activities they would like, and it encourages financial insecurity. These families are often only one small emergency away from losing their vehicle or home or having their utilities turned off.
The Cycle of Debt –
Nearly every adult in the United States has some form of debt. This is how people obtain homes, cars, and a higher education. The problem is not necessarily the amount that people owe, but the ratio of what they earn to what they owe. When the debt ratio becomes too high, it is difficult for people to manage. Reoccurring bills that are paid late lead to additional fees that make the next payment even more difficult to make. Credit card companies charge late fees and raise interest rates when customers are slow to pay. Banks charge fees if minimum balances are not kept and additional ones if a check is submitted without the funds necessary to cover it. Many of the customers who are charged these fees are already living on as tight a budget as possible, and these additional costs will only put them further in debt. Debt is a vicious and seemingly never-ending cycle!
The Search for Help –
Free financial help is available for anyone in the Pittsburgh area through the Pittsburgh Financial Empowerment Center. A certified financial counselor can help you understand your current financial situation and let you know what your options are. Pittsburgh’s Financial Empowerment Center (FEC) offers one-on-one, professional financial counseling as a free public service. The FEC helps clients take control of their debt, deal with debt collectors, improve their credit, create a realistic budget, find ways to save money, connect to safe and affordable financial products, and so much more.
The Assistance of Credit Counseling –
Anyone choosing the Debt Management Program avenue to financial freedom should opt for a trusted non-profit credit counseling agency. For-profit businesses such as debt settlement have been notorious for causing more debt and/or problems for their clients. A non-profit makes certain the money their clients pay is solely spent on eliminating their debt. Credit counselors review their client’s finances, including all income and debt. They create a workable budget for their clients and teach them how to do the same for themselves in the future. They help each person to learn about how debt works and how to avoid the pitfalls that cause people to fall behind. They work with the creditors to create a plan to get the debt paid. This process helps to encourage creditors to eliminate late fees, lower interest rates, and accept a lower set monthly payment.
It’s vital to know that a Debt Management Program does not work for everyone. It all depends on your unique current financial situation. It is not a miracle cure that works overnight to eliminate all of your debt. People cannot walk into their office or contact them online and suddenly be free of their bills. Anyone that uses this service must be dedicated to following their advice and instructions, and they must stick to their set payment plan. The payments to the credit counseling agency need to be made on time every single month so that the creditors can be paid on time. Extremely high amounts of debt or an income that is not livable may make success impossible too. One of the additional services credit counseling offers is letting their clients know when they have run out of options, and when they should consider bankruptcy. Your creditor counselor will advise you to speak with a bankruptcy attorney if that’s the case. Consumer credit counseling is free for everyone, and you’ll never be asked to pay for a counseling session. There’s no risk or harm in going through a credit counseling session to see what your debt relief options are.
Does Financial Counseling Work –
Debt and financial struggles can be overwhelming and stressful. Payments can be late or missed, and the months can drag on as your debt continues to rise. Luckily, there are many helpful resources that can be taken advantage of to help ease the pain of these circumstances. The free financial counseling offered by Advantage CCS and the Pittsburgh Financial Empowerment Center can assist individuals burdened by debt in a number of ways, and they are all specifically tailored to each person’s needs.
Debt To Income Ratio –
Financial counseling is a wise decision for those individuals whose spending tends to exceed their earnings. This is how debt and financial issues begin to arise, and unfortunately, many tend to have a snowball effect. By working with one of our non-profit financial counselors, and discussing your debt-to-income ratio, you can begin the process to financial freedom. Many factors of your current financial situation, including your possible unemployment, can help counselors understand your unique circumstances, and they can recommend some debt relief options that could help you. After your current budget and spending plan has been determined, you will be given a comprehensive game plan or what we call an Action Plan that will help you begin the process of working out your current financial hardship.
Finding Relief –
As part of your debt help plan, Advantage CCS and the Pittsburgh Financial Empowerment Center team will consolidate all of your payments into one monthly amount. This will not only simplify your finances, but it will also effectively lower your monthly payments in most cases. This is made possible by agreed upon arrangements between your financial counselor and your creditors, and is based on your current debt and payment schedules.
Fine Tuning Your Budget –
This free financial counseling process is painless and incredibly helpful. By engaging in a stress-free conversation about your current financial issues, the non-profit counselors can begin the process of developing a plan to aid you in dealing with your debt. As your lifestyle changes, so can your budget. Financial counselors are available to advise you on any adjustments you may need when changes to your income or debt occur. These services can be conveniently accessed online, by phone, or in-person.
Expected Outcome –
As you begin to follow your Debt Management Program, you will notice a number of positive changes. You will feel more organized and less stressed about which bills are due, and which you cannot afford. Soon the harassing phone calls from creditors will stop, and the non-profit agency will distribute your single monthly payment accordingly for you on-time to your creditors on the program. You will also finally be given a realistic time-frame for when you will be out of debt. All of this can be made possible by taking advantage of our non-profit financial counseling, and soon your financial hardships will be a thing of the past.
If you are a Pittsburgh area resident with financial woes, you should consider contacting the Pittsburgh Financial Empowerment Center today. The friendly and certified financial counselors will analyze your current financial situation, compare the debts you owe to the money you make, create a workable budget for you, and help you formulate a plan for getting out of debt, and how you can go about saving money. There’s no hassle – and there’s certainly no shame in seeking free financial counseling.