Several years before my husband and I retired we began to think about how to implement a sound financial plan so that we would not be saddled with debt in our retirement years. We looked in the Yellow Pages and called to schedule our first appointment with Garden State Consumer Credit Counseling (now Novadebt), a non profit agency located in Freehold, New Jersey. The financial advisor listened to our goals and painstakingly looked at our outgoing bills compared to our incoming salaries and formulated a financial plan that would eliminate our debt. We were given an outline of our proposed payment schedule and our creditors were notified of our enrollment in the debt reduction program. The necessary paperwork was completed, contract was signed with the credit counseling agency and we left that initial session buoyed by hopes that through hard work and diligence we would eventually be debt free.
During our enrollment with Novadebt, we were both still employed. Throughout those five years, and each time we paid off an account, we became increasingly optimistic that we would reach our financial goals planned during our initial meeting with our financial counselor. We had been advised to discard and destroy all credit cards but that piece of advice was not entirely followed. We felt that we had the discipline to maintain one credit card to allow some financial stability for emergency purposes. Impulsive spending was never an issue for either of us so we felt that we would not compromise our current progress and we did responsively maintain the credit card. As we made our monthly payments to Novadebt, they in turn, paid the creditors the agreed upon amount. As the payments were applied to our accounts, we were encouraged by the diminishing balances and bills being paid off in full. As the accounts were paid off, we kept paying the same monthly amount and applied that amount to the next bill. An interesting side note: MBNA, one of our creditors, actually penalized its customers for paying over the minimum amount due. Novadebt immediately notified us of this policy and we were advised to not pay more than the minimum due. Eventually I believe the policy was reversed because of its absurdity of penalizing customers for wanting to pay more than the minimum due. We have no intention of ever doing business with MBNA again. That one incident was the only negative experience and it was not certainly the fault of Novadebt. Had Novadebt not informed us, we would have incurred further punitive fees from MBNA.
In 2002 the final payment to our last creditor was made and we were relatively debt free. We had only to continue to make payments on our home equity loan, a bill that did not qualify for credit counseling payments. Joining Novadebt was a prudent action for us and resulted in our eliminating debt so that we could be free to retire on schedule with our plan. Thankfully, we continue to live within our means and have two credit cards which remain in good standing. We carefully plan our purchases and although we are living on a smaller income we try to make good financial decisions by not spending what we do not have. Credit card offers still come in the mail by they are immediately shredded. No more debt for us!
When you complete the credit counseling program you can continue to receive financial advisement and attend seminars on topics such as home mortgages, budgeting guidelines and related financial topics. Their newsletter, Penny Pincher, contains helpful information about all types of financial services. Always included in the newsletter is a letter of gratitude from a consumer who has been helped by Novadebt. It was not always easy to keep focused on our financial goals but by the grace and goodness of God and the assistance and guidance of Novadebt we overcame debt. We are truly thankful Novadebt was available for us. Because of their counsel, we have entered into retirement without burdensome debt. As their motto says: You can get out of debt!
For more information contact Novadebt:
225 Willowbrook Rd
Freehold, New Jersey 07728