Nonprofits offer money management options to those saddled with debt

Many services offer budgeting help in addition to debt management

InvestigateTV - It’s hard to get out of debt when you keep getting hit with higher costs, new fees, and changing interest rates. Many Americans turn to nonprofit companies that can help them create a debt management plan to escape the cycle.

Heather McAfee is the first to tell you that debt can make you feel overwhelmed and unworthy.

“I think it’s embarrassing. There’s a stigma,” McAffe said. “I mean if someone considers themselves somewhat intelligent and they have a job and they do the things you’re supposed to do and then realize: Wow. I can’t even spend my money, right? Or save my money, right. It’s something that we’re not taught. I don’t think.”

McAfee was a single mom on a teacher’s salary with two kids and in her words, she was drowning in tens of thousands of dollars in debt.

She ended up Googling for help and came across Money Management International (MMI), one of many nonprofit credit counseling services around the country.

Marla Puckett from MMI said their services are free and their goal is to help people learn how to establish and maintain a budget. Puckett said MMI also helps negotiate and lower interest rates on high interest rate credit cards.

McAfee took advantage of that service and while she still paid the full amount of her balances, the lower rates helped her do it more quickly.She said she also learned how to budget, how to use credit cards wisely and stop impulse buys. In just two years, she paid off $37,000 dollars.

McAfee gave a lot of credit to MMI and said she wants to share her story to help destigmatize people with burdensome debt and inspire others to tackle their debt head-on.

Her biggest piece of advice to those looking to climb out of debt: It’s OK to ask for help.

Rachel DePompa

Rachel DePompa

Rachel DePompa is NBC12's On Your Side Investigator. Before joining WWBT in March of 2008 Rachel worked in Roanoke, Bristol and Harrisonburg.