In my blog, I rarely bring in my day to day job into the discussion. Today is an exception. My primary career is that I manage a contact center in the student loan industry. Whenever I tell people this, the initial response that I receive is, "Oh, you're one of those people". My response invariably is, "No, I am one of those individuals with the white hats that can provide people with the best options for their situation."
While my career has been within several verticals within the debt collections and customer service industries, my current path is one that provides guidance and solutions for individuals who are frustrated by their situation. The team responsible for providing counseling to the consumer are all focused on one goal, and that is to get it right the first time we speak with an individual so that the consumer is able to make better informed decisions through resources and feedback we are able to provide to them. We don't collect money and we don't set up payment arrangements. Simply put, we explore options and solutions with consumers to allow them to successfully manage repayment of their federal student loan debt.
It is amazing how much information is available for consumers that people do not take advantage of. There are times that bad things happen to good people. Take for instance the situation of an individual who has become 60 days past due on their student loan pay. The first thing that needs to be understood is how a person became past due (besides the obvious of not making a payment). Not making the payment is the result, but getting down to basics and understanding if their were triggering events which caused payments not to be made timely. In this example, the person had their hours cut 3 months ago, which forced them to make decisions about how their money needed to be spent. The quick answer would be to choose a discretionary hardship forbearance on this debt. However, what the consumer may not understand is that this is going to cause capitalized interest to occur as a result of the interest accrual since their last payment was made. Due to interest capitalization, their principal balance will increase, resulting in a higher monthly payment amount. By gaining an understanding of their situation, it may be learned that the spouse lost their job during this period for a family of 5. Again, bad things happen to good people and their are better options than just digging a deeper hole.
As we enter the holiday season, it is important, that we all recognize that bad things happen to good people. There are some out there that have been through situations that are completely outside of their control, while there are situations that people have made some poor financial decisions. Most of us have been their at some point in our lives. These situations cause stress for individuals and their families. Typically, without intervention, bad decisions lead to worse decisions.
While not everyone will have an opportunity to positively impact a persons financial situation in the way that we are able to in the contact center I'm responsible for, we all have the ability to provide fresh perspective to those around us. Take the time to be a positive moment to a complete stranger. Ask a friend or a family member how things are going and if they have a plan. Bottom line, invest time in others not just during the holiday season, but all the time.
If you are in a bad situation, know there are a myriad of non-profit resources available for you to talk about your situation. Also, know that bad situations will lead to sacrifice. Things you were able to do, you may need to give up until things are back in balance. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel, and usually it is not a train coming at you. Take a step back, breath, re-evaluate, and move forward.
Situations can change, but only if there is a catalyst for them, and it all starts with us as individuals.
Have a very Happy Thanksgiving and Hanukkah over the course of the next week and remember to have a positive impact on someone this week.