Some Iowa families face serious financial trouble with back to school costs, inflated gasoline prices and the bills coming due from summer vacation. Consumer credit counselor Linda Maraman says other factors may include illness, loss of a job or divorce, though she says help is available and the price is right.
Maraman says when people come in for a free counseling session, they look at things like goals and living expenses and come up with a way to manage it all. She says some lenders will reduce or eliminate penalties if a good-faith effort is made to make monthly payments.
Maraman says the pattern of overspending appears to be getting worse. She says “We’re seeing more and more people really close to losing their homes. It’s not uncommon anymore to have people come in three and four months delinquent on their homes. They’re getting into foreclosure. That is a big change from ten years ago.” She also blames a “credit card craze” for landing significant numbers of Iowans in a lake of red ink.
Maraman says they’re afraid to open their bills, they’re running out of money at the end of the month and they’re getting cash advances to pay their bills, simply shifting the debt from one place to another. She says credit counseling services offer free advice that can save families from financial ruin.
She says some of the people who come in have been afraid to seek help but end up saying they’ve been given hope that there’s a way out of their debt troubles. There are several similar offices in the state, including: Waterloo-based Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Northeastern Iowa, which has outlets in Dubuque, Marshalltown, Grinnell, Mason City, Forest City, Ames and Decorah. For more information, surf to “www.cccsia.org”.