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Confessions of a Credit Counselor, Theresa's Story

What brought you to AFS? Career change, wanting to do something that would help people. I did not ever see myself in a role such as this. Although my strength has always been in training others, it hasn’t been in regards to finances. Prior to this, the only advice on finances I think I have given would be sharing my own successes and mistakes with my children as they have grown up.

What has been your best moment at AFS? Hearing a client thank me and tell me that I had lifted a weight off their shoulders. Knowing that their whole outlook changes from the beginning of the call to the end.

What is one piece of advice you’d like to give people? Saving helps to keep a person confident in achieving goals and motivates good financial choices. People can rest assured that in an emergency, they can be their own credit card without having to pay the 22% (or more) interest rates.

Also by knowing we have to pay ourselves back, I feel it becomes more of an accountability factor. Whereas paying back on a credit card can often be “easier,” because minimum payments are so low. Saving helps us see the big picture of the ultimate goal.

A great way to start saving is to open a separate account in a bank that’s out of the way. Don’t get checks or a debit card for the account. This makes it harder to get to the money, because we have to go to the branch. We go through more of a thought process before we withdraw the money. Start with a minimum of  $25 a month or paycheck. Have  it directly deposited into that account on payday. Then you don’t see it and you don’t miss it.

Published Jul 1, 2015.