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What Is Family Credit Counseling?

B. Miller
B. Miller

Family credit counseling is a type of consumer credit counseling service in which a financial planner, credit counselor or advisor offers advice to a couple or family about better managing their finances. Though searching for, "family credit counseling," online will frequently bring up a number of Christian groups offering this service, this is not necessarily the case; there are plenty of nonprofit organizations that offer credit counseling without any type of religious affiliation. It is important to keep in mind that credit counseling through a nonprofit is generally free, and is very different than a debt consolidation service, which is not free and will generally require individuals to stop making payments on their bills so the debt consolidators can settle the debts.

Unlike debt consolidation, family credit counseling is simply a way for individuals and families to receive accurate, helpful financial advice if they are struggling to pay bills or make ends meet. A credit counselor may be able to provide advice on managing debt and prioritizing payments; refinancing home loans; or even something as simple as creating a household budget, among other types of advice. Individuals can go to the credit counselor with specific questions, or simply to receive general advice about finances.

A credit counselor should not try to sell investments to their clients.
A credit counselor should not try to sell investments to their clients.

Typically, family credit counseling does not include investment advice, such as the stock purchasing advice that a financial planner might offer. The only types of investment advice offered from a family credit counseling service might be in setting up retirement accounts and planning for the future. A credit counselor should not be trying to sell their clients anything, such as life insurance or any other types of investments. If this occurs, it is best to look for a different counseling service, because it is difficult to receive objective advice from someone who is also trying to make a profit. Those who are facing legal actions as a result of financial problems should understand that a credit counselor is not a substitute for an attorney.

The benefit of family credit counseling is that each individual who is responsible for the finances in the family can learn about it, rather than just one person receiving the credit counseling. Many couples find that they fight about money and financial issues more than anything else, and receiving financial advice and budget planning as a couple can help to alleviate some of these fights, and perhaps yield solutions that neither partner was aware of. It may be necessary to visit the credit counseling service repeatedly, and most counseling services will have no problem with this provided the customers are actually making progress, and making positive changes in their money management habits.

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    • A credit counselor should not try to sell investments to their clients.
      A credit counselor should not try to sell investments to their clients.