Too many people put off seeking credit counseling until they’re in serious debt or it’s required as part of a bankruptcy filing. People tend to be reactive, seeking help only when things are going badly. However, being proactive about your finances and planning for financial curveballs that may come along can save you from serious problems later.

Credit counseling can be particularly crucial for people entering a new stage of life that will impact their finances. For example:

  • Young people living on their own for the first time
  • Newlyweds
  • Expectant parents
  • Newly-divorced people
  • Those who have lost a job (or other source of income)
  • People preparing to enter retirement

You don’t necessarily have to hire a financial advisor to accomplish this. There are free and low-cost credit counseling and education services available in most areas.

Credit counseling can help you navigate these life changes, learn how to make and stick to a budget and develop a financial plan for the future. This may include paying down debt, increasing savings and/or cutting out unnecessary expenses.

Even if you’re only going through credit counseling as part of the bankruptcy filing process, you should work to get the most out of it. It can help you emerge from bankruptcy financially strong and reduce the chances of future financial problems.

If, after you’ve consulted with an experienced Arizona bankruptcy attorney, you decide that you’re not ready to file for bankruptcy yet, your attorney can likely recommend a no-cost or affordable credit counseling service to help you sort through your financial issues.

Source: NerdWallet, “The Benefits of Credit Counseling — Even When You Don’t Yet Need It,” Oct. 14, 2016