This integrated counseling tool is designed to retain the essential relationship between the counselor and the client while using internet-based technology. The software guides counselors through the steps to create a viable action plan. The steps include an analysis of the current financial condition, an exploration of the factors that contributed to the current condition, a careful consideration of the alternatives to resolve the current debt situation, and the formulation of a viable action plan for resolving the current situation. The instructions include pulling a credit report and then through an analysis of the credit report and score, outstanding debt to include deferred, credit card and student loan. This review will help clients become credit ready for purchasing a home, an automobile, preparing to return to school, starting a business. On the other end of the continuum the client may be dealing with an insolvency event, divorce, loss of employment, high medical bills.
Key Functionality of the Tool
- Accessible over the Internet from any device
- Ability to send a link for clients to complete demographic and income and expense information prior to the session
- During the session review and compare with credit report and statements
- Allows counselors to take notes and collect additional information to open-ended questions
- Integrated calculators for gathering information and making projections
- Stored data for easy retrieval and analysis
- Integrates with Zoho to create a complete business platform
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Analysis of the current financial condition
- Establishing the client/counselor relationship
- Access to counseling techniques including rapport building, non-judgmental listening and communication, responding to range of client emotions
- Income and expense analysis
- Examination of spending patterns related to fixed, variable, and discretionary expenses
- Calculation of debt-to-income ratio.
- Calculation of net worth. This calculation may be omitted depending on the client’s The primary goal of the net worth calculation is to review assets and liabilities as it relates to their current situation.
- Evaluation of credit rating. Clients are encouraged to have their credit report information. If they do not, the counselor will assist the client in obtaining
- Counselor notes and summary. Issues and concerns are recorded for later
II. Examination of the factors that caused the current condition
- Destructive spending habits/poor financial planning. This includes several informal questionnaires for assessing spending behaviors, inter-family communication, attitudes towards money and saving, knowledge of credit, needs versus wants
- Loss of income. Education and jobs skills are noted along with causes of income loss, which can include downsizing, medical condition, divorce, or death in the family. Counselor can access resources specific to client Examples include opportunities in job training and the availability of divorce mediation.
- Unexpected large expenses. These are primarily due to medical emergencies or health conditions that confront both insured and uninsured consumers. Also, included are natural disasters, unexpected death in the family.
- Failed small business.
- Other issues include clients serving in the military and legal
- Counselor notes and summary
III. Exploration of the options for resolving the current financial condition
- Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
- Current information on bankruptcy code, procedures, and costs
- Consideration of property exemption issues
- Consideration of types of debts and whether they can be discharged (including recent credit card debt)
- Consideration of impact on credit rating
- Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
- Information on the new law, procedures, and costs
- Protections against foreclosures, evictions, and wage garnishments
- Evaluation of client’s ability to complete a 5-year payment plan
- Stop collector harassment through the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
- Dispute billing statements through the Fair Credit Billing Act
- Check and dispute credit report errors through the Fair Credit Reporting Act
Negotiation with creditors
- Time and hassle considerations
- Possible benefits
Credit counseling. Client needs a steady monthly income.
Debt consolidation loans. Procuring a loan is only viable if the client has a steady source of income and a fair to good credit score. Home equity loans are an option for All consequences are considered.
Debt settlement. Credit score will plummet while the debtor saves for a lump sum Net Worth may provide a solution.
Counselor notes and summary.
IV. Development of a plan to respond to the current financial situation
- Statement of plan of action. Examples include: “I will file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy”, “I will enter a debt management plan”, “I will shop for a debt consolidation loan.” Each statement will generate support resources for establishing an action
- Development of a viable spending plan that accommodates the client’s current situation
- Development of a plan to avoid future financial dilemmas. This would include allocating household income wisely, establishing an emergency savings fund, establishing a retirement fund, and building and maintaining a good credit
- Compilation of resources and referrals. This would take the form of a list of contacts or options available based on counselor notes and