Free help for managing debt

Finder 4 July 2016

help to manage debt

While creating debt is remarkably easy, clawing your way out can prove far more difficult. Luckily, Australians can access free assistance in managing and eventually eliminating debt.

Many Australians have loans for large purchases or invest in their tertiary education, homes or cars, and people budget to cover what they owe on these loans. So, being in debt isn’t necessarily a sign of bad financial management. However, acquiring goods and services on credit is a slippery slope, and before long you can find yourself in a situation where you’re struggling to repay that credit.

Before soliciting the services of expert financial or legal providers, there are a number of associations providing free financial management advice for ordinary Australians crippled by debt.

How does debt management work?

Managing debt starts with facing the reality of your financial situation. Besides curbing unnecessary expenses and borrowing, it also involves revising your budget so that all of your financial obligations are met. Getting the help you need doesn’t have to cost a thing, from seeking finance counsel to dispute resolution and setting up realistic repayment plans.

Freeing yourself from debt – for free

Good advice for dealing with debt doesn’t have to be expensive; it’s free when you ask the right people. Here are a few alternatives that offer free assistance for indebted Australians:

  • Christians Against Poverty Australia (CAP)

Irrespective of your religious beliefs, CAP offers free debt management services to anyone who needs it. Here’s how it works:

  • A debt coach will come to your home to assist with revising your finances, and will even negotiate with creditors on your behalf if necessary.
  • CAP charges no fees. It relies on donations to do its work and operates through the 40 CAP centres across Australia.

If you’re interested in getting help, contact CAP by telephone and speak to the New Client Enquiries team. Tel: 1300 227 000. You have to live within 30 minutes of a CAP centre to be eligible.

  • Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) Moneysmart website

The ASIC Moneysmart website is a comprehensive resource for Australians seeking tips and advice on dealing with debt. The “Managing debts” page can help you with:

  • Consolidating debt
  • Finding financial counsellors
  • Dealing with debt collectors
  • Free legal advice

Moneysmart stresses the importance of taking that critical first step to eliminating debt, while encouraging readers to manage expectations when considering debt solution companies.

  • Debt Self Help

This free online assessment tool was created by Financial Counselling Australia to provide indebted Australians with a tailored set of solutions. Here are some of its benefits:

  • 100% private. All information is completely confidential.
  • Expertise. You can benefit from advice delivered by qualified, experienced financial counsellors.
  • Free and independent. The FCA is a non-profit organisation, so users pay nothing for the services it provides.
  • User-friendly reports. While finances can seem complicated, Debt Self Help makes a point of keeping reports as simple as possible.

If you’d like to give Debt Self Help a try, access the online assessment tool via its website.

  • Moneyhelp

Sponsored by the Victorian Government, Moneyhelp provides free financial advice for managing money and debt. Whether it's bills, a mortgage or recent unemployment that’s causing your snowballing debt, Moneyhelp might be able to help. It offers the following services:

  • Negotiating with creditors
  • Applying for Financial Hardship Assistance
  • Prioritising your debt repayments
  • Maintaining a good credit rating

The reality of Australia's household debt

Debt-free for a fee

While you can get good advice for free, certain companies offer similar services for a fee. You can also benefit from a free consultation to get a better idea of how to start managing your debt. Here are a few debt solutions specialists that offer free consultations for Australians struggling with debt:

  • Capital Debt Solutions. Your initial consultation is free and you pay no upfront fees. Depending on your financial situation, it offers assistance with debt agreement, debt consolidation loans, personal informal agreements, cutting expenditure and declaring bankruptcy.
  • Free From Debt. While its services come at a fee, Free From Debt’s online calculators help with working out better ways to save and repay loans and credit cards. The first consultation is free, and while you’re not obligated to sign up, just meeting with a specialist can be a good way to kickstart breaking free from debt.

Everyone can fall into debt, but not everyone can afford financial advisors and private companies to help them get out of it. With a little research, Australians in debt can benefit from free, accessible and completely legitimate expert advice to properly manage financial situations.

Image: Shutterstock

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