I think these books and sites are great, but you must do your own work to see what is best for you.
The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke by Suze Orman (Riverhead, 2005, ASIN: B000PC71Q4)
The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom, by Suze Orman (Crown, 1997, ISBN 0-517-70791-8)
- I think this is the best book out there. Suze is a great money expert. This is not just a how-to book. It was this book which helped me to take control of my own finances. Suze asks you to look at how your thoughts about money stop you from getting what you really want.
The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey (Thomas Nelson, 2013, ISBN-13: 978-1595555274)
Saving on a Shoestring, by Barbara O’Neill, CFP (Berkeley, 1995, ISBN 0-425-15344-4)
- Barbara is a Certified Financial Planner who teaches at Rutgers University. This is a great book for people who don’t have much money.
If you need a lot of help, you should go see see a Certified Financial Planner or credit counselor.
People who want to fix their finances and credit need to be very careful. There are a lot of bad “credit repair” and “debt consolidation” companies. Some of them want you to givce them lots of money, or file bankruptcy, break the law with “file segregation,” where they set up a second identity for you.
There are also people who say the are financial counselors who just want to sell you something, like insurance.
I recommend going to a non-profit organization with good reviews.
What they can do
Credit counselors can show you how to reduce your spending and debt. They can also help you reduce your taxes.
If your debt is too much to pay back, they can put you in a debt management program. For a small fee, they consolidate your debt and tell your creditors that you are in their program. If you go to a national non-profit, their size allows them to lower interest rates a lot, sometimes to zero interest. If you join, you must follow the agreement, or else they turn you back over to your creditors.
There is a bad part of a debt management program. In order to join, they require that your bills are past due. This will show up on your credit report, and it will make it harder to get credit after that. It’s not as bad for your credit as a bankruptcy, though.
Federal Trade Commission (consumer.ftc.gov)
- Founded in 1974 as Consumer Credit Counseling Service, credit.org is a national non-profit organization with local offices around the nation. I used them and find them to be excellent. Phone: 800-388-2227.
American Bankruptcy Institute (abi.org)
- The American Bankruptcy Institute has a good page of basic terms, and an overview of Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies. I also recommend looking at their page on consumer options, which has a great basic Q & A. Phone: 703-739-0800
National Credit Union Administration (ncua.gov)
- Information on credit unions, which are often helpful for people in our community who seek loans. 800-755-1030
- The Get Out of Debt Guy has tips and self-help options. 888-919-3323