Financial Resources

Credit Counseling

A good credit counseling service will meet with you to develop a budget and plan, and offer education to help you learn the best way to manage your money.

Finding a reputable service

  • Start with referrals. While there are many good services out there, unfortunately there are also dishonest agencies as well. See if your bank, university, hospital, or community center offers referrals to services.
  • Aim for fiscal independence. Any financial plan should set a time when you won’t need to rely on the credit counseling service anymore. Does the agency offer a solid budgeting plan? Do they provide education on how to manage your situation, and how to avoid problems in the future?
  • Watch out for hidden fees and protect your information. One red flag is agencies wanting too much personal information up front before they can provide you initial information. Make sure you understand exactly what costs are involved. If the agency claims to be able to reduce interest rates, confirm that with the creditor.

In the U.S.:

  • Fiscal Fitness: Choosing a Credit Counselor describes what credit counselors do, tips on finding a reputable service, and when to consider services such as debt management. (FTC.gov)
  • Coping with Debt provides tips on moving forward in reducing debt, including working with creditors directly, when to consider credit counseling, and scams to avoid. (FTC.gov)

In the UK:

In Australia:

In New Zealand:

  • Budgetline offers free debt and financial advice.

In Canada:

Medical Bills

Medical bills can often increase rapidly, and it can be especially difficult to focus on bills when you are dealing with a serious or chronic illness. Here are some tips on working with medical bills:

  • Make sure you understand all of the charges. Ask for itemized bills. If there is a charge you don’t understand, appears to be in error, or you think should be covered by your insurance, don’t hesitate to call. If you have insurance, check your provisions carefully to make sure you understand what is covered and what is not.
  • Understand your payment options, opportunities to negotiate, and if you are eligible for charitable care or reduced fees.
  • Community organizations such as senior centers or health centers may offer helpful resources. If you’re dealing with a specific disability, contact the organization or find a support group that may help you with real world advice.

In the U.S.:

  • Managing High Medical Bills. Tips on getting a handle on medical bills, from negotiating with the hospital or clinic to getting outside resources and support. (Nolo.com)
  • Financial Management during Crisis. Written for parents of children with disabilities, the page has useful information for all ages on managing finances, from advocacy to working with medical clinics and insurance companies. (Nemours Foundation)

Government Benefits

In the U.S.:

  • Benefits.gov outlines government benefits and eligibility, from housing to food and healthcare needs.

Some examples of potential benefits include:

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Cash benefit to disabled or elderly people with little to no income.
  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Disability income for those who are no longer able to work, and previously worked in a job covered by social security benefits.
  • Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). Federally funded program administered by individual states, provides financial assistance to low income families with dependents or in the last few months of pregnancy. The name of the program varies from state to state.
  • Food Stamps. Program that helps low income residents get food. Normally administered by states.
  • Veteran’s Benefits. Military veterans have a variety of potential benefits, from healthcare to housing to education.
  • Medicare. Health insurance for those over 65, or under 65 with certain disabilities.
  • Medicaid. Limited health coverage for those with low income or who meet certain eligibility requirements. Each state administers its own Medicaid program.
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program. Provides health coverage for children whose families meet certain income requirements; specific requirements vary by state.

In other countries:

Student Aid

In the U.S.:

  • Financial Aid offers information on paying for college and financial aid such as loans, grants, and work-study options. (US Department of Education)

In the UK:

In Australia:

In New Zealand:

In Canada: