The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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April 13, 2001 Issue
Counselor's Corner

'I am struggling financially as my bills are mounting'

There are many people in this same situation, but help is available

By Mary Novak

QUESTION: I am struggling financially as bills are mounting. As soon as I've satisfied one creditor I have another one demanding more money than I have available. Although I don't know what to do to get back on track, I am embarrassed to ask for help. I am an adult and I should know how to handle my money. I've never had problems like this before. What should I do?

ANSWER: First, let me assure you there are many people in your situation. They have had no training in basic money management but believe that just because they are adults they should know how to handle all money issues. Why? As we grow up we watch people all around us using money. We see it being spent and we may observe people writing checks or using credit cards. Sometimes, parents have told us it's important to save or always pay bills on time. Few of us, though, have had training in how to effectively plan and manage our personal income.

Our Power of Money workshops are done all over the country throughout the year. We have asked more than 20,000 participants in our presentations two questions. The first question is: How many of you have ever had a course in school on personal money management that was worthwhile? The second question is: How many of you ever had a parent with good money management skills who passed those skills on to you?

How can we expect to know it all

We have never received more than a 5% "yes" answer to the first question and about a 25% "yes" answer to the second. So how can we expect to know everything we need to know about setting up a basic spending plan, much less dealing with all that comes as bills get out of control?

When people come to see us, they are usually relieved to find out they are not alone. It takes courage to ask for help. Having an objective counselor take a look at the situation helps the client see the problems in a new light.

We are always grateful when a client doesn't wait until the money situation is critical. There are many more options available to help clients when they come in before they begin to experience serious problems. I do want to stress, however, that it is never too late to ask for help. Even clients who are forced into bankruptcy need to make a spending plan for the future or they are likely to end up in the same position again.

Communicating about money is a very important part of every couple's relationship. Working with a budget counselor can help to bring about a common goal and plan. The focus is taken off of "his way" or "her way" and put on "our way."

Whatever your concern about money, we invite you to take advantage of our services. It costs nothing to meet with a budget counselor. Although we certainly do not have all the answers, we will help you with what we can and help guide you to the right people to answer the questions we can't.

(Novak is a FISC budget counselor with Catholic Social Services, Green Bay.)

Send questions to Counselor's Corner, c/o Catholic Social Services, P.O. Box 23825, Green Bay 54305-3825. All questions will be answered in print or through the mail. Identities will remain confidential.

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