Debtors Anonymous Grows in Popularity
By: Brian O'Connell

With more and more Americans drowning in debt, they’re dealing with their pain — and possibly their addictions — via a free national debt addiction program called Debtors Anonymous. The process is giving new meaning to the term "one day at a time."

Why the need for Debtors Anonymous? According to the Federal Reserve’s G.19 Report, released in March, total U.S. consumer debt reached $2.45 trillion at the end of 2009.

Thus Debtors Anonymous is attracting more attention — and more attendees — as the Great Recession stubbornly refuses to release its stranglehold on the U.S. public. The organization traces its roots back to 1971, when a handful of debt-ridden citizens began meetings in New York City. Interest waned for a few years but picked up steam again as the mid-70s rolled along, bringing with it record inflation and a deflated U.S. economy. According to the group’s Web site, currently there are more than 500 meetings each week across the U.S., and interest is growing all the time.

While Debtors Anonymous can’t legally proffer investment or financial advice, what it can offer is a free, identity-protected, initiation-free method of helping Americans get a solid grip on their debt.

Debtors Anonymous does recommend you wait six meetings to officially “join” — (you do that by simply declaring yourself a member). It also urges new members to get a sponsor, usually a DA veteran who’s been involved in the group for a while and can help you resist the temptation to go out on that shopping spree or ignore that growing pile of bills in your shoebox.

Finding a local meeting is pretty easy. Just log into the DA Web site and head to the Find a DA Meeting page. There you can find a local, onsite meeting, attend a session over the Internet, or even find a DA group overseas. Chances are if you live in or near a major U.S. metropolitan area, there’s a local chapter near you. New York City, Philadelphia, Houston, Minneapolis, Southern California and Boston, for example, all have local affiliates.

The group isn’t all about helping individuals with debt problems. Debtors Anonymous also has a branch outfit called Business Debtors Anonymous for business owners suffering from spending addictions. Find information at DebtorsAnonymous.org.

If you think you might be a good candidate for Debtors Anonymous, the group’s Web site has an easy 15-question test that gives you a better idea where you might fit on the debt addiction scale. Sample questions include “Are your debts making your home life unhappy?” and “Does the pressure of your debts cause you to have difficulty sleeping?”

As the DA Web site says, if you answer yes to eight of the 15 questions, a trip over to a DA meeting might be in the cards. Check out the 15 questions at DebtorsAnonymous.org.

—For more ways to save, spend, invest and borrow, visit MainStreet.com.

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