Debt. The four-letter word that seems to have many of us bound in a never-ending cycle of monthly payments and interest accumulation. You may find yourself in debt because you needed to pay for one (or multiple) college degrees or certification programs to obtain a more lucrative financial and career opportunity. Another possibility is that debt came crashing at your door when your car suddenly broke down, a loved one without health insurance unexpectedly fell ill, or credit cards became your best friends because overnight your expenses were more than the money you were bringing home.
Whatever the reason, fellow navigator, I’m sure you can relate to the overwhelming feeling of being in debt. While this is a situation a host of us may find ourselves in, we don’t have to stay in that place. There are a plethora of debt management programs and financial advising companies out there that can assist in sorting out money issues. Fellow navigator, wisdom says to exercise a great amount of caution before using one of these programs or services. When it comes to money management, a company or individual’s credibility and reputation should be vetted and held in the highest regard. If you have even a slight suspicion that the business or representative is not being completely forthright about products, services, or processes, you have every right to walk away.
It seems this is something we don’t talk about enough, so I’m going to bring it up here. There are a lot of scammers out there; people have no problem taking your money because you failed to do your due diligence. What does “due diligence” look like? It’s verifying the company or individual’s information through various means. No, due diligence is not just making sure the Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages are up and running. No, it is not only about going to the website and seeing how visually appealing it is. Due diligence involves reading customer reviews across multiple platforms. The business may have reviews on the company website, but you take it a step further to see if there are reviews or comments about services on their social media pages as well. Platforms like Google, Yelp, and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) also allow you to read what others have to say about their experience with a company.
After you’ve found the review pages, what should you do? Read what others have to say. If I see a company with mostly five stars, I almost always immediately bypass the high reviews to read the one and two-star ratings. Check to see if there’s a common theme regarding the justification for others giving such low reviews. If nearly every one or two-star rating has to do with the company’s employees providing poor customer service, that is something you should not take lightly. A financial advising company is run by people telling you how best to manage your money. If those individuals are unable to deliver good customer service, I’d think twice about allowing them anywhere near my money.
Due diligence also involves finding out about the company’s specific products, services, and processes, then comparing them to their competitors. I don’t think we do this enough. Maybe it requires more time than we’re willing to put in? Whatever the reason, we must do better in this area. Money management companies are vying for your business. Some offer better packages than others because they understand that they have to make themselves stand out in order to make you their customer. It is your right to tell one company that you want to shop around to see if you can find value elsewhere.
Now, finding value is not always about getting the lowest quote. (Remember, you get what you pay for.) If three out of four businesses charge roughly $1,000 for a service and you find one that only costs $400, don’t do it. That $600 discrepancy could be due to a lack of experience, expertise, or just flat-out incompetence. We don’t always have to learn the hard way (by having our hard-earned money stolen from us) that being able to research market value for a service or product is an asset. If you don’t have the funds to pay the going rate, it may be best to wait and minimize the chances of being cheated.
Too many times we, as women, are scammed and conned by people when it comes to money management matters because our ignorance gets the best of us. Ignorance is not about our intellectual level; it’s about information we don’t know. At the end of the day, information is the best commodity. The most effective way for us to become more financially savvy is by educating ourselves about these debt management companies before spending a dime.
Did you like the post? Is money management something you want to discuss further? Let’s keep the conversation going! What have you learned by practicing due diligence? Leave your comments below!