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Debtors Anonymous?

posted by John Pottow

I wanted to pass along an interesting story I saw a few weeks ago in the WSJ about support groups for debtors.  They had such names as the "Sunday Morning Club" and  "Girls Just Wanna Have Funds."  These groups, to me, serve as an indicator that debt has become a socio-cultural phenomenon akin to addiction, such that people now feel the need to have support groups to confront and combat their problems.  I also note a lot seem church-based.  I suspect these are more organic and less slick than. e.g, current commercialized debt gurus.  Here's my lingering question: what do the credit card lenders have to say about them?  I suspect they'll proffer support, the way brewers encourage "responsible drinking," but I can't help but wonder whether secretly they can't stand them...


There is an official organization called Debtors Anonymous which operates very much like Alcoholics Anonymous; you can find out more about them from their website. They use the same 12 steps, modified to account for the different nature of the problem, charge no fees, and have regular support group meetings in most metropolitan areas. A key feature of this program (as with AA) is pairing the new person with a sponsor or mentor who has successfully used the DA 12 steps to cope with his own debt problems.

I have no personal experience with DA, but if it is at all similar to AA, it probably provides excellent advice, stresses a higher level of personal responsibility than you'd encounter in a formal bankruptcy proceeding, and would substitute for professional legal advice only in the earlier stages of a financial debacle.

Same article as the WSJ was published in France on a large scale by "courrier international" and "directmatin" (a free newspaper).

So can anyone join these groups or do you have to be in deep debt?

Membership in DA is informal and is based on your admission that your debt is unmanageable. The amount and the degree to which it is impacting your life is not important. Participation would generally not be open to non-debtors such as debt counselors or relatives of debtors unless they had their own problem as well. In other 12-step programs there is a distinction between open and closed meetings. Nonmembers are welcome to sit in on open meetings to observe, but closed meetings are open only to members. In AA, that means anyone willing to say "I'm an alcoholic."

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