Expert advice on managing debt through this pandemic

Managing debt
Posted at 11:00 AM, Jul 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-07 20:56:47-04

MENASHA (NBC 26) -- Inside Goodwill's Financial Information and Service Center (FISC), debt management specialist Jodi Moynihan hears all kinds of stories of debt.

One of those stories is her own.

“My story starts about 22 years ago," Moynihan said. “My husband and I had some debt. We lived on credit cards for a year. I was working part time at the time, had a young son.”

Moynihan heard about FISC and eventually worked to get on a debt management plan. Her family later got out of debt and purchased a home. Now, Moynihan is working at the very place she once turned to for help and is helping others find similar success in managing debt.

“A big part of it is sitting down and making a spending plan or a budget," she said. "Whether they do it themselves, they can come in and meet with a counselor and go through that to take a look and see where you are really spending, and do you need what you’re spending on. Do you need that five dollar coffee a day?”

Moynihan said a lot of that spending can go on credit cards. That debt usually carries a pretty high interest rate.

“If you don’t truly need them (credit cards), close the account because if it’s open you always have that in the back of your head, I can always throw it on my credit card," she said. “It’s better to avoid it as much as possible.”

Moynihan also recommends families find a budget that works. It helps to know where your money is going to find out where you can save.

“Track where you’re spending for a couple of weeks - and that’s every last dime. If you go into Kwik Trip and you get a soda, write that down," she said. “Just like going on a diet, rather than trying to cut out everything at once and then you fail because it’s just too overwhelming, let’s take a step and a time and work toward getting in that place.”

Moynihan said getting out of debt takes time. She's proof that it can be done.

“Just keep plugging forward," she said. "Don’t give up, and you’re going to get through this.”