MADISON, Wis. (4/26/10)--Credit unions are helping their members turn their financial situations around, by offering help through counseling or savings products. Sheila Jensen is one individual who was helped by a credit union--Affinity Plus FCU in Duluth, Minn. Jensen had troubled paying her bills when she accumulated credit card debt, and went to Affinity for help. The credit union helped her improve her finances through financial counseling (Duluth News-Tribune April 12). Jensen met with the credit union every week to work on her budget and bill payments. She paid her bills with automatic withdrawals and cashiers’ checks. She stopped using personal checks to resist spending, and the credit union helped Jensen deal with collection agencies and set up payment plans for back taxes. Jensen also was given a cash allowance each payday. With the credit union’s help, Jensen paid off her debt, and learned how to budget and manage her money. Her credit score has improved, and she’s feeling more in control of her financial situation, the newspaper said. Kristina Wright, vice president of communications for the Minnesota Credit Union Network, said credit unions are known for their member service. Some credit unions have financial counselors on staff, while others outsource counseling. Credit unions will try to work with their members, especially during the housing crisis and recession, she said. Duluth Teachers CU also offers financial counseling. Bryan Lent, assistant vice president of lending, told the newspaper his staff will provide income and debt comparisons to members as a tool to help them better manage their money.