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  Public Employee Press

PEP Dec 2006
Table of Contents
  La Voz

Public Employee Press

Escaping the pain of debt and bankruptcy

An overflow crowd came out to learn about ways to ease their credit crunch, erase their debt and how to manage many other financial woes at the MELS workshop
on October 25.

Living on a tight budget, one without much wiggle room, it’s easy to fall into debt that can then accumulate and become a crushing burden.

More than 100 members attended a workshop offered by the Municipal Employees Legal Services unit of DC 37 on Oct. 25. Speakers addressed the related topics of debt, credit and bankruptcy, offering specific, factual information on all three topics.

After a long, stressful day handling 911 calls, Tyhessia Martin traveled from Brooklyn to learn about the best way to sort out her finances so she can achieve her dream.

“I have three children and I want to buy a home, but I don’t know if that’s possible. I’m looking for a realistic way to pay off my debt,” she explained. Martin is typical of DC 37 members who struggle to stay afloat in an inflationary economy where housing and other costs in New York City are an escalating burden.

Speakers emphasized that family finances can impact a person’s emotional health and increase daily stress loads. Presentations laid out the facts about credit: the cost of borrowing money and how to establish good credit; how to obtain credit scores and what the numbers actually mean; credit cards; interest rates; finance charges; traps to avoid, and the dangers involved in only paying the minimum monthly payment.

“Negative information affects your credit score,” cautioned Robert Martin, associate director of MELS. As the holidays approach, the habit of borrowing money and increasing the load of debt to unmanageable levels holds an appeal for stressed-out shoppers. Budgeting is one tool that can help families avoid future problems such as the need to resort to bankruptcy. “Budgeting is critical,” said MELS’ attorney Sheldon Barasch.

“A budget is just a tool that helps you to organize your thoughts about your money and how to disperse it,” said Michael Morgan, supervising social worker for MELS.

To help members stay the course of sticking to a manageable plan for spending money, MELS is offering a budget education support group. The group will probably have four sessions and will begin in the early 2007. The subjects will include setting realistic limits for spending, developing budget and record-keeping systems, debt and savings, and stress and money.

To receive an application, mail your contact information to MELS at DC 37, Room 1004, 125 Barclay St., NY, NY, 10007.



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