Debt is nothing new, and access to credit offers consumers the ability to increase buying power and make purchases outside of their normal spending habits, but this play-now-pay-later spending strategy comes at a price. And in the wake of the worst effects of the Great Recession, African Americans, like Americans as a whole, are getting their balance sheets in order and paying down debt.

According to debt expert and credit advisor Kelli Wright, the dilemma of consumers of color, is that as they try to stay afloat financially after racking up the debt, they are reluctant to seek assistance or take advantage of resources to keep them from going under.

“Currently I am able to live a more fulfilled life, because I was able to get out of that [financial] bondage,” says The Treasure Trainer Founder, a credit and debt elimination service. “But, when I got out of it, I thought what good is it for me to live the kind of life that I have been afforded, and not help other people experience the same freedom.”

Wright says consumers often find it difficult to admit that they are bombarded with debt and they just don’t know what resources are out there to help them.

“That’s why I created this company, because I was one of those individuals as well. I didn’t seek help when I found myself with over $100,000 worth of debt because I was embarrassed and ashamed that I had been so irresponsible,” she confides. “But it took me 10 years to get out of that debt because I was still trying to keep up with the Joneses,” said Wright. “Family members were asking me for money and I still felt like I had to play this role that I was graced financially. I didn’t completely focus on debt elimination because I was still trying to play the part.”

The affable debt expert says she could have decreased that 10-year drama to 3 years had she followed through with a debt elimination plan and stuck to it. And by ‘stick to it’ she means sacrifice.

“My goal is to change people’s lives and having them realize that you can live a very fulfilling life by making some key sacrifices.”

The Treasure Trainer’s services include budget planning, savings programs, home buying assistance, debt collection advice and bankruptcy assessments.

“Nine time out of ten, people who are planning to file bankruptcy are not [really] bankrupt. … I don’t want people to feel overwhelmed and throw their hands up,” cautions Wright. “There is help available and bankruptcy is not the end all answer to your money troubles.”

So, if you’re not answering your phone to numbers you don’t recognize, or are alarmed by the ‘No Caller ID,’ dodging collectors, ignoring the calls and letters doesn’t settle the debt. Wright says she can help consumers respond to creditors and resolve collection issues.

“If you’re in debt — no matter how much or how little — I want to help you not only prevent the situation from getting worse, but I want to get you out of it altogether,” Wright explains. “It’s about making sacrifices, so you may not be able to get your nails and your hair done every week, or you can’t run and get the new iPhone every time it comes out.”

The Treasure Trainer founder also warns Detroiters that while the city is enjoying its good fortune economically and the standard of living rises, so does the cost of living, which in some areas of the Detroit means a small fortune.

“Detroit is getting very expensive, and now you have to analyze what you can afford and stay in your financial lane and don’t get caught up in lifestyle comparisons. … Just do you,” concludes Wrigh

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