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The Short Version: The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) is the nation’s first and largest nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the American public on financial topics. Active in all 50 states, NFCC certified counselors share insights and strategies to help individuals, couples, and families reduce their debt, build credit, and achieve their financial goals. It’s like hiring a personal trainer for your finances. Since 1951, the NFCC has championed financial wellness and offered professional guidance and resources to support everyday consumers like you.
Money is often a source of tension and conflict for couples. About 40% of couples who have consumer debt say they argue about money, and even 25% of couples who are debt-free still argue about money. Even worse, 1 in 3 spouses who argue about money have admitted to hiding bills from their significant others.
Couples have to tackle financial challenges together, but they often don’t have a clear understanding about how to create a budget, reign in spending habits, and eliminate debt. These contentious issues can impact people’s personal relationships and stress levels, and sometimes couples need a little help getting on the same page as they save for the future.
The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) works closely with individuals, couples, and families and equips them to take control of their finances. Since its establishment in 1951, the NFCC has championed fiscal responsibility and become the largest and longest-serving counseling organization in the country.
The NFCC is on a mission to promote “financial health for the rest of us.” The nonprofit organization maintains accredited member agencies in all 50 states (plus Puerto Rico) and delivers personalized money management counseling on serious financial issues ranging from paying off student loans to saving for retirement.
Additionally, the NFCC website offers free educational resources that provide guidance on budgeting, building credit, buying a home, and so much more.
Anyone can schedule an in-person or by-phone counseling session to assess where their finances are and create a strategy to improve their financial well-being. You can also call (800) 388-2227 to get in touch with an NFCC certified credit counselor right away.
“The great thing about the NFCC is that its articles and financial tools are backed by a nationwide network or financial counselors,” said Bruce McClary, the Vice President of Marketing at the NFCC. “We offer personal solutions to help people overcome their financial challenges.”
The NFCC educates consumers about how to create a workable budget, get out of debt, and achieve financial freedom. Its free online tools include a monthly budget planner and a budget calculator. The NFCC website can answer questions such as “How much house can I afford?” and “Do I have enough money saved for retirement?” Its easy-to-understand articles, tools, and other resources teach people how to understand their finances and reach their goals.
In 2013, the NFCC launched the Sharpen Your Financial Focus program to assess individual financial wellness and answer common questions about investing, budgeting, saving, and planning for retirement.
The three-step program begins with a MyMoneyCheckUp® where individuals disclose information about their financial situations and challenges. The program uses this information to generate concrete tips to help people develop healthier spending, budgeting, and saving habits. People benefit from reading educational content and learning how their behaviors can impact their credit worthiness and overall financial prospects.
The Sharpen Your Financial Focus program also offers counseling workshops at over 350 locations nationwide. NFCC financial experts cover tricky topics such as banking, homebuying, and building a good credit score.
The Sharpen Your Financial Focus program has prompted many couples to discuss their finances in detail and develop a strategy for overcoming debt, curbing spending, or improving credit. “It was probably the greatest thing I ever did,”said Francine Bostick in a testimonial. She and her husband, Jim, paid back over $118,000 in debt after working with the NFCC. “Once we met our counselor, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted.”
“The Sharpen Your Financial Focus program gets you started on that journey toward financial health,” Bruce said. “Individuals and couples are better off when they have a clear understanding of where they stand in terms of their finances and what issues need to be addressed.”
The NFCC provides personalized financial guidance through a national network of certified credit and debt counselors. These trained coaches can offer advice on all sorts of financial challenges, including credit card debt, homeownership, student loans, and bankruptcy. Couples don’t have to face these complex and nerve-wracking problems alone — they can work with a professional to determine the best way to move forward and achieve their goals.
Since 2017, the NFCC’s member agencies have served over 1 million clients across the country, and the nonprofit continues to expand its suite of money management services and tools to help more individuals, couples, and families dealing with financial issues.
“Our challenge is to reach more people,” Bruce said. “Even though we’ve reached a million people, there are still millions more out there in need of our help. We want to make it easier and more affordable for people to get the help they need.”
Couples can attend financial counseling sessions together and learn money management skills in a nonjudgmental environment. NFCC counselors open lines of communication about money, and that can help people be honest with themselves and with their partners about their fears, weaknesses, and challenges.
Personalized counseling can be a lifesaver for couples who have bad credit or huge amounts of debt, but it’s also useful for couples who are joining their finances for the first time and want to nip potentially harmful habits in the bud. The NFCC’s financial counselors create specific action plans based on where the clients are and where they want to be.
“Our mission is to help everyone who could benefit from financial guidance to reach their goals and overcome obstacles along the way,” Bruce said. “Money can be the Achilles’ heel of a relationship, so it’s important to talk about it and deal with it early on.”
The NFCC has been a positive influence in the financial sector for decades, and its client testimonials speak to the difference a little financial education can have in people’s lives. “I learned to honor and respect my money,” said Martha Souder, who paid off nearly $50,000 in three and a half years thanks to one of the NFCC’s programs.
An Ohio State University study looked into the impact the NFCC’s counseling has had on clients and determined that the average NFCC client decreased their revolving debt by about $6,000 in 18 months. The control group decreased their debt by $3,600 during the same time period. A majority of NFCC clients also expressed more confidence in their ability to manage their finances after working with the credit counselors.
Over the years, the NFCC has helped millions of people pay off their debts, improve their credit scores, start small businesses, and build toward a financially stable future. Couples can use these counseling services to discuss how to deal with money issues in a constructive and responsible way.
Bruce told us the story of one couple who came to his office for a basic financial assessment and realized as the conversation went on that one partner had been hiding a stack of bills from the other. Understandably, the spouse who was in the dark expressed surprise and anger, and the financial counseling session became more like a relationship counseling session.
Fortunately, Bruce was able to mediate and help the couple focus on how to move forward together now that they both understood the situation. The couple came up with a plan to get out of debt, and they promised to communicate more clearly and honestly about money in the future. What could’ve been a disastrous, relationship-ending situation became a learning opportunity in Bruce’s office.
“Those kind of stories motivate me to continue working with the NFCC,” he said. “It’s tremendously satisfying to know we’re able to help so many people and change so many lives.”
Since 1951, the NFCC has worked to improve the financial well-being of individuals and couples from all walks of life. These advocates have developed an array of free online resources while building a nationwide network of financial counselors to advise, teach, and support clients facing money challenges. The nonprofit’s educational efforts have empowered people to pay down their debts, increase their savings, and confidently manage their finances.
With these trained counselors by your side, money doesn’t have to be a pain point in your relationship. The NFCC can show couples a better way and help them work together to create a plan of action for reaching their shared financial goals.
“No one is beyond help,” Bruce told us. “You can correct toxic financial behavior in a relationship if you are both willing to make changes and work together to accomplish your goals.”