Finally. I can’t believe it has taken so long for a credit counseling group to make the leap to include a savings component to a debt reduction approach. Historically credit counseling groups directed every possible dollar they could towards creditor payments to make the creditors happy. And it is one thing to include a savings line item in a budget but CESI has taken the step of actually building a savings account with money in it as part of their debt reduction approach.
When I ran a credit counseling group we did something similar back in the early 2000s. The obstacle we ran into was having clients drain their savings when they discovered they had actually managed to save money. It will be interesting to see what CESI will share with the data generated from this project and customers of theirs leave the money in as an emergency fund or a retirement saving start.
Here is the press release from CESI with the announcement.
Consumer Education Services, Inc. (CESI) is pleased to announce a ground-breaking new product, Debt Management Plan (DMP) Plus. The DMP Plus will give consumers the power to enhance their economic security on two fronts: Through eliminating crippling unsecured debt while building real savings.
CESI is able to offer the DMP Plus product through a unique partnership with EARN to integrate the SaverLife program with our Debt Management Plan. With the support of two trusted nonprofits, working families can conquer debt and achieve prosperity through savings.
According to the Federal Reserve, nearly half of Americans do not have enough savings to cover a $400 expense without going into debt or selling something. Yet even small amounts of savings can make a significant difference for these families. In fact, households with just $250 – $749 in savings are less likely to be evicted, miss a housing or utilities payment, or receive public benefits.
The DMP Plus program will feature all the benefits of a traditional Debt Management Plan, which typically include lower interest rates, reduced fees and lower monthly payments through automated payments to creditors. In addition, CESI’s DMP Plus customers have the opportunity to join the innovative SaverLife program that has assisted more than 100,000 individuals offered by nonprofit EARN. For every month that an enrolled consumer saves at least $20, SaverLife will match their savings up to $10 for a total of $60 over six months. The program is simple to join, automated for ease of use, and consumers will receive meaningful touchpoints designed to encourage, educate and motivate them to continue their savings habits.
“We are excited to partner with EARN, whose success in helping consumers take the steps to save is so well known,” said Mike Croxson, CEO of CESI. “Over nearly 20 years, CESI has assisted millions of consumers struggling to gain control of their debt through our counseling, budgeting and debt management plans. Until now, we did not have a method to ensure that savings were actually achieved in a consumer’s budget as they paid down their debt. We believe that the innovation of integrating EARN’s SaverLife program into our traditional DMP offering will be a catalyst for resolving debt issues and helping families build the savings that can provide financial freedom.”