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How to Get Free Credit Counseling in Hawaii

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In a Nutshell

To better ensure that you can trust the financial counseling guidance you receive during your Hawaii credit counseling session, it’s important to research the reputation and credentials of any credit counseling programs you’re interested in working with. Once you find an accredited, nonprofit credit counseling agency in Hawaii that you can trust, you’ll need to schedule a counseling session and begin preparing for it.

Written by Attorney Kassandra Kuehl.  
Updated December 4, 2019


When you’re struggling with debt, it’s generally a good idea to be wary of offers that seem “too good to be true.” Scammers tend to target individuals who can’t seem to get ahead, no matter how hard they work. However, it’s important to understand that there are resources available to you that are legitimate, valuable and free, if you’re unsure of how to manage your mounting debt and household expenses at the same time. It’s not always obvious which resources are legitimate and which are scams. For that reason, it’s generally a good idea to connect with an accredited, nonprofit credit counseling organization to start. These organizations offer a free, initial credit counseling session. As the organizations that conduct these sessions are both nonprofit and accredited, their free, credit counseling session process is both trustworthy and ultimately helpful. This is especially true if you work with an accredited, nonprofit organization that only employs certified credit counselors. These organizations may charge for other financial services, but they won’t charge you for your initial credit counseling session. You don’t have to meet any criteria to take advantage of a free credit counseling session; you just have to pick up the phone and schedule one. Once you’re in your session, your credit counselor will ask you about your financial challenges and financial goals. They will review documents related to your income, expenses, and debts before assessing your finances as a whole. After approximately 45-60 minutes, you will be given a unique, personalized action plan that will help you to better understand how to manage your debt and expenses. Depending on what your financial situation looks like, your credit counselor may recommend that you invest in bankruptcy counseling, additional debt counseling, a debt management plan, or debt consolidation. The decision to follow through with this action plan or to find an alternative route forward is completely up to you.

How to Get Free Credit Counseling in Hawaii

To better ensure that you can trust the financial counseling guidance you receive during your Hawaii credit counseling session, it’s important to research the reputation and credentials of any credit counseling programs you’re interested in working with. Once you find an accredited, nonprofit credit counseling agency in Hawaii that you can trust, you’ll need to schedule a counseling session and begin preparing for it.


Find Hawaii Nonprofit Credit Counseling Agencies

For-profit companies that offer credit counseling services aren’t subjected to the same level of oversight that nonprofit credit counseling organizations accredited by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) are. As a result, it’s easy for for-profit companies to take advantage of their clients. Therefore, you’ll want to focus the process of researching Hawaii credit counseling agencies on those organizations that are nonprofit, and accredited by the NFCC. That way, you’ll be able to trust the recommendations you receive from your consumer credit counselor at the end of your session.

Information to Research Before Talking to a Hawaii Credit Counseling Agency

Once you’ve narrowed your search to Hawaii nonprofit organizations accredited by the NFCC, you’ll want to dig a little deeper into the reputations of any agencies you’re interested in working with. When a Hawaii credit counseling agency engages in questionable or unacceptable practices, the state’s office of consumer protection, attorney general, and/or Better Business Bureau will publish some kind of notice of concern. If a nonprofit, accredited agency you’re interested in working with is not flagged by any of these watchdogs, you should feel confident scheduling an appointment with its Hawaii credit counseling services department. If only a few, mild instances of negative feedback appear in your research, you can use your judgment about whether you should take a chance on an agency with a nearly, but not completely, perfect record.

Questions to Ask the Hawaii Credit Counselor Before Signing Up

When you feel confident in the reputation of the nonprofit, accredited, Hawaii credit counseling agency of your choice, go ahead and call or make contact online to schedule an appointment. When you’re scheduling your session, verify the location of your session, the length of time your session is scheduled to take, that it won’t cost you anything, and that the credit counselor you’re working with is certified. You’ll also want to ask if there is anything you should do to prepare for your credit counseling session. This is a good time to ask the agency you’ll be working with to send you any educational materials they have on hand regarding credit counseling and any additional services they offer. Reviewing these materials in advance of your session can help to ensure you’re as informed as you can be about the agency you’re partnering with.

What to Expect During Credit Counseling

Hawaii credit counseling sessions are low-stress affairs. They generally last for approximately 45-60 minutes and don’t require professional attire. During your session, your credit counselor will ask you questions about your financial goals and the financial challenges you’re facing that are compromising your ability to realize those goals. Your counselor will also look over any financial paperwork you’ve brought along with you, which should include a copy of your current credit report, recent pay stubs, bank statements, and your most recent tax return. After asking you about your income, expenses, and debts, your counselor will give you their recommendations on the steps you should take next to build a stronger financial future. 

What Happens After Credit Counseling in Hawaii

Now that you have received credit and debt counseling recommendations from a certified credit counselor, it is time to put those recommendations into action… or not. It is up to you whether you’ll ultimately act on your Hawaii credit counselor’s personal finance guidance. However, it’s important to remember that you pursued informed financial education for a reason. If you were given an action plan at the end of your Hawaii credit counseling session that included accessing money management tools, pursuing debt consolidation, constructing a debt management program, or filing for bankruptcy, it may be worth your time to strongly consider these options.

Hawaii Debt Consolidation

Pursuing debt consolidation will allow you to pay one monthly debt payment, instead of many payments to multiple creditors. This process involves securing a low or zero percent interest loan and using that loan as a bank transfer to pay your existing debts. Then, you’ll only need to pay that single balance every month. If you have access to reliable income, but could benefit from avoiding monthly fees and accruing interest on your existing debts (including medical bills, student loans, credit card debt, etc.), this might be a great option for you.

Hawaii Debt Management Plan

If you choose to work with a Hawaii credit counselor to put a debt management plan into place, you won’t have to secure a loan to make that happen. Instead, you’ll work with a credit counseling organization to negotiate payment plans with your creditors. You’ll then pay the consumer credit counseling agency once each month and the agency will distribute your payment to your creditors per the terms of your debt management plan. If you successfully comply with the terms of your plan, you’ll be able to avoid late fees, slowly raise your credit score, and reduce your debt so that you can focus on other financial goals.

Hawaii Bankruptcy

Some people are disheartened when their Hawaii credit counselor recommends that they pursue bankruptcy counseling and consider filing for bankruptcy. However, filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy is often an excellent debt relief option and can place you on a path toward becoming debt-free. If financial problems have left you with overwhelming debt and your income is insufficient to reliably meet the burdens of debt consolidation or a debt management plan, filing for bankruptcy may be an option worthy of your strong consideration.



Written By:

Attorney Kassandra Kuehl

LinkedIn

Kassandra is a writer and attorney with a passion for consumer financial education. Outside of consumer law, she is focused on pro bono work in the fields of International Human Rights Law, Constitutional and Human Rights Law, Gender and the Law. Kassandra graduated from Universi... read more about Attorney Kassandra Kuehl

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