I sat with my head leaning on my hand, my eyes glazing over as I stared at the computer screen and scrolled through my bank account. I knew enough to know it wasn't good for it to be going out faster than it was coming in. But I couldn't figure out how to make sense of all those numbers with dollar signs in front of them. I was never very good at math. When real life (aka. student loans, rent, and grocery bills) and math started to collide, I knew I was going to need help with what felt like a high-wire balancing act. I always felt a little bit like a failure because I couldn't figure out how to budget on my own. But then I learned there are people who are actually really good at this. The best part is, those people usually love to help those of us who find the numbers game a bit more challenging.
Recently I had a chance to talk with Scott Huse, and heard the story of how someone helped him through his own financial challenge.
"I was at a point where I had launched a company several years back. And with that company I had decided that I knew what I was doing. I decided, 'I've got great credit history. I think I'm going to take out a whole bunch of credit cards.' I put my family at a lot of risk because that was personal credit. The revenue did not generate. So those credit cards were continually coming due. My wife was very scared at that point. Instead of developing a company, I really needed to get back into an income that could provide. But I was still left with the risk."
It was during this time that Scott heard about Credit Counseling of Arkansas (CCOA), and decided to reach out and ask for help, "Credit counseling of Arkansas is a nonprofit organization. If you are having a challenge with any type of personal finances, they're someone you can turn to that is an ear that will listen to you, and also a voice that will guide you and direct you where you need to go."
In 2011, Scott says CCOA listened to his story, and helped him make a plan for debt management.
"Within 3 years we paid off all that debt," he says. "Right when you think you may be scared to go to them, don't be. Because, you're not being judged by anybody. There's people all over Northwest Arkansas that are challenged in some form of debt."
Other services offered by CCOA include free financial education (available in English, Spanish and Marshallese), free financial counseling, free housing counseling, and credit report reviews. To learn more, you can visit their website. You can also contact them by phone, at 479-521-8877, or via e-mail, at CCOA@CCOAcares.com.