'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,
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.