2.      If you do need to seek out credit counseling, it is important to talk with counselors who are certified by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC). This is a national nonprofit network of 850 locations whose credit counselors must meet high quality standards and pass counselor certification exams. The network can offer help in person, by mail, online, or through their toll-free hotline (1-800-388-2227).

The counseling agency you consulted with, Consumer Credit Counseling Services (CCCS),  is a reputable agency. It is accredited through NFCC and by the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA). The agency helps consumers manage their household budget and debts.   

The CCCS Debt Management Program (DMP) offers an initial no-cost credit counseling session to review the current financial situation and look at options. If you decide to enroll in the DMP, your counselor will 1) contact the creditors and negotiate a workable repayment plan and 2) work with creditors to waive over-limit fees and late fees. You, the client, pay a monthly payment through CCCS, often withdrawn from your bank account. The credit counseling agency sends those funds directly to your creditors.

Credit counselors set up ongoing sessions to help you be in charge of your financial situation. The DMP is successfully completed when the debts have been paid off.

How will a DMP affect your credit? According to the NFCC:  "Your participation in a DMP may change information that is already on your credit report. If your credit report reflects that you have paid creditors as agreed in the past, a DMP could have a negative impact on a creditworthiness decision by a potential creditor, landlord, or employer because it is an indicator that you are or have experienced financial difficulties."

Self-control is the key to financial freedom. You also need patience and determination to reach your goals and get out of debt. Get rid of the excuses. Don't give up!

Copyright 2009 Deborah Nayrocker. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint required.

Deborah Nayrocker is the author of The Art of Debt-Free Living and the popular Bible study Living a Balanced Financial Life. She is an award-winning writer and columnist. Her Web site is www.artofdebt-freeliving.com.