My journey with The Credit Counseling Center (CCC) began back in the Fall of 2017. I was experiencing a great deal of shame and self-doubt and found myself at an all-time low regarding my credit card debt, and was finally on the brink of admitting to myself that I had a problem and needed help. I decided to finally open up about the matter and consulted my parents. My step-father, whom is a very informed man and always hungry to seek and learn new information, had recommended CCC to me based on some research he conducted. I mention these aspects about my step-father because I was in such a vulnerable and detached place regarding my finances that if it weren’t for trusting his judgement and recommendations maybe more than anyone, I would likely have never contacted CCC if the recommendation hadn’t come directly from him. My slight denial was still making me think, “it can’t be this bad to need a professional organization involved”. I took the recommendation despite any trepidations and called and made an appointment with Joan at CCC.
At the time, I was 36 years-old, happy, renting a condo, successful owner of my own business, and really had my life together in all other areas except financially. The financial issues began almost 20 years prior during my freshmen year in college when I opened up my very first credit card. I admittedly am a spender by nature and love to shop. Plain and simple, my mentality was, “I want that, I’ll charge it”. I had no real sense of managing money, and although I always paid my credit card bills on time and never missed payments, racking up debt on numerous credit cards, combined with obscene interest rates, dug me into a deep hole that my parents had helped to dig me out of a few times here and there during the earlier years, but that had swallowed me whole once again.
Regardless of their help, which allowed me to yo-yo through having credit card debt to not having it for many years, by the time Fall of 2017 came around I was facing nearly $30,000 in credit card debt. I couldn’t even tell you if I wanted to how exactly this happened because it still perplexes me to this day. But, I know that my spending habits combined with the interest rates were a recipe for financial disaster for me and I needed help desperately due to the mess I had cooked up.
Before I had my first appointment with Joan, I had begun admitting to myself that I was in deep and clearly had a problem with spending and proper financial management, but she opened my eyes even wider to this reality. It was a scary journey to embark on at first and I felt so much shame and guilt. Joan helped me process this and get beyond it enough to put my energy towards a more solution focused mindset and effort, whereby I began entertaining her suggestion of enrolling in The Credit Counseling Center’s Debt Management Program. Joan and I also worked on a budget to assist me with learning and implementing some better financial management habits. She was awesome and her firm, but supportive approach really set me straight on a path I would later come to realize was exactly what I needed and be forever thankful to have been on.
On a December night back in 2017, I remember the fear and excitement I felt all at once while cutting up ALL of my credit cards per Joan’s directive, and after much consideration and talking it over with trusted loved ones I came to the decision to sign the enrollment paperwork and put my trust and blind faith in The Credit Counseling Center to help me manage my debt. I was not sure how to live without credit cards at first, but would quickly learn how to, as well as learn more about the enchanting, yet totally false façade they pose in modern day society. For the last four years I have not used a single credit card and am better for it. I also feel that since I have learned how to successfully manage my finances without them, I will use them appropriately in the future and not feed into the enchanting façade and abuse them instead.
Four years later, in 2022, I sit here writing this with the biggest, most gracious smile on my face as my final payment will go to CCC’s Debt Management Program and I will be credit card debt free $30,000 later! I am a homeowner now and still a successful business owner, but most importantly I am a more financially savvy and wise person. I think twice before I buy and I try to save more than spend. And did I mention, I will be credit card debt free in a week?! Haha! I am thrilled and owe so many thanks to CCC it is impossible to convey. Joan and Cindy have both been joys to work with; friendly, professional, supportive, and responsive, and I owe them much gratitude!
Since financial strain impacts our overall health, wellbeing, and functioning, it is a serious matter for many people. A matter that had me a bit paralyzed with fear and lacking the appropriate resources and insights regarding my financial life and future and how to manage them appropriately. I needed help and I found it with The Credit Counseling Center and I am wiser when it comes to money and less burdened by financial duress as a result. I recommend them often to people and always will, as they helped improve my life tremendously! Thank you could never be enough!
In 2021, Paula was named Executive Director of Credit Counseling Center. She joined the organization in 2008 as a Credit Counselor and was quickly promoted to Director of Housing Counseling in 2009. Paula is a firm believer that each client is a representation of a family whose lives, financial challenges, and needs are important.
She developed and still leads the Center’s Foreclosure Prevention program; and has partnered with the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas Foreclosure Diversion Program. Her keen focus on making a positive impact in the community has generated numerous program collaborations with the United Way of Bucks County and a multitude of social service organizations in the region.
Previously, Paula served 21 on Active Duty in the US Air Force. Initially serving as a combat photographer and finishing the second half of her career as a recruiter, leading to the position of Flight Chief. Highly decorated, she has received awards from the Air Force and the Department of Defense.
An active leader in the Bucks County community, Paula donates her time annually as a board member for the annual Congressional Service Academy Nomination Interviews under the office of Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick. She is an active Chamber member in Lower Bucks, BucksMont, and Upper Bucks, advocates for financial literacy education opportunities at venues servicing low/moderate income consumers and senior citizen organizations.