Published November 17, 2015
Volume 23, Number 11

National Budget Planners Provides Credit Counseling,


Non-Profit Works to Bring Financial Literacy to All

National Budget
National Budget Planners provides extensive credit counseling at their Hacienda offices.

By Jay Hipps

Navigating today’s personal finance system can be a challenge, with a constant flurry of credit cards, financing deals, and mortgages of all stripes. For those who lose their way, bankruptcy can be a grim fate, but fortunately there are organizations like Hacienda’s National Budget Planners, a non-profit credit counseling agency that helps consumers regain control of their financial futures.
“We are really out there to educate and teach consumers how to manage their money properly,” says Porus Engineer, the company’s general manager. “Our counseling services are entirely free — anybody can call us and go through an entire counseling session and there is no charge for that.”
These sessions are designed to take a detailed look at a client’s income and expenses through a lens of long-term sustainability. “We do this very holistic counseling session,” Engineer says. “We understand that if you have X amount of people in your house and X amount is your income, how much of that are you spending on transportation? On eating or shopping? How much of that are you spending on discretionary spending? How much of it is variable? How much of it is fixed? How do you manage your money? Who pays the bills? When are your bills due? And when you take that approach, what comes out is really the underlying issues: either they’re spending too much or, and this is true nine out of 10 times, they’re not managing their finances correctly. So we really go into the nitty-gritty of it to help them create an action plan. What are their short-term goals? What are their long-term goals? When you take that approach, people become more accountable and they start making better decisions. We are really out there to educate and teach consumers how to manage their money properly.”
National Budget Planners, which services around 25,000 to 30,000 clients nationwide, offers an additional service — a debt management plan — when the situation is appropriate. One advantage to this is that those in credit counseling debt management plans automatically qualify for lower interest rates — currently five to nine percent — on their credit card debt.
“If they want to get into a debt management program, then they pay a monthly fee based on the state that they reside in — we operate in 44 states — and the fee in California is $35 per month. That fee is for us managing their debt for them,” Engineer says. “A client makes one payment to us and we take that payment and disperse it to their creditors so that they are getting paid and there is never a late fee.”
In addition to the free credit counseling they offer, the company has other educational programs as well. “We are big advocates of financial literacy and we partner with a number of other non-profits in the area for that reason,” says Engineer. “We help a lot with the Tri-Valley Housing Opportunity Center and the financial literacy aspects of their first-time homebuyer classes. If you’re going to go into long-term debt, you have to make sure that it is sustainable.” No-cost information on how to manage your finances to improve your credit score is also available.
Free credit counseling is available by calling (866) 916-5213. Access the organization’s web site at www.nationalbudget.org or e-mail info@nationalbudget.org for additional information.


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