Q1 Reflections on the Impact of Freedom Debt Relief

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When Brad and I first started Freedom, we believed that everyday Americans needed help with their debt.  While there were many companies who existed to extend credit to consumers, no one was there to help people when they ran into financial problems or struggled with debt.

We founded the company to empower people to take control of their debt and strive for a better financial future.  Over the past 16 years, we’ve remaining committed to this goal — achieving far more than I ever thought possible. 

A few recent company milestones:

  • We have settled over $10 billion in client debt – a huge milestone. (In fact, we have recently passed the $11 billion mark). We now settle more than $200 million in client debt every month!
  • We have negotiated more than 2 million debt accounts for our clients, negotiating with more than 2 thousand different creditors. 

We opened the second building of our Tempe campus, providing a beautiful new facility that includes a coffee bar and an 18,000 square foot café that serves delicious breakfast and lunch. We now have over 2 thousand teammates in our Tempe and San Francisco Bay Area offices.



We started this business in 2002, at the peak of the dot.com burst and during a stock market crash that left many feeling financially vulnerable.  While consumer financial stress was high in 2002, we’ve only seen consumer debt continue to pile up in the past two decades – it is now at a record high of $13.5 Trillion.

The impact of debt on everyday Americans is palpable:

  • 57% of Americans struggle financially 1
  • 41% cannot cover a $400 expense 2
  • 44% of U.S. households carry revolving credit card debt, with an average revolving balance of $18,600 3
  • 33% have suffered a financial hardship 4

Furthermore, in a recent Freedom Debt Relief survey conducted among 2000 Americans, we found that debt remains a major factor affecting their lives:

  • 66% say they have about the same, or more, credit card debt than they did a year ago.
  • 42% say that the biggest contributor to their credit card debt is everyday expenses.
  • 46% say that debt leaves them feeling stressed, 40% say that they are delaying life goals, and 12% are even delaying having children.
  • 48% say that debt impacts their ability to save, 40% say that it impacts their ability to take a vacation, and 38% say that it is impacting their ability to save for retirement.
  • More than 1 in 5 (21%) would give up vacationing for 10 years to get out of debt, and 22% would give up going out to eat.

Read more about how debt affects Americans’ every day lives.

After starting Freedom, we quickly learned that we could address our clients’ debts in ways that helped get them on a path to a better financial life.  But until very recently, even we didn’t fully understand the impact we have on their lives.  We wanted tangible evidence that we leave our clients in a better place – more capable of handling their finances, and more in control of their personal lives.

Late last year, we worked with Arizona State University to help us understand the answers to these questions. ASU conducted a study of over 3,000 people struggling with debt to understand the impact of Freedom Debt Relief on our clients’ financial and emotional health. The study used two established academic measures, the Financial Capability Scale and the Perceived Stress Scale, to track the financial health, perceived stress, and overall well being between FDR current clients, FDR graduates, FDR prospects who never enrolled, and the general debt-stressed population.

It turns out, when compared to those who qualified but never enrolled in the program:

  1. Freedom Debt Relief graduates are significantly healthier financially – They scored 24% higher on the Financial Capability Scale versus those who never enrolled, indicating that they are more financially capable. For example, they are more likely to have a budget and spend less than their monthly income, and they are more confident they could handle an emergency expense.
  2. Freedom Debt Relief graduates are significantly less stressed about their finances – They scored 21% lower on the Perceived Stress Scale versus those who never enrolled, indicating they feel less stressed. They are also are more likely to feel they are “on top of things” and “things are going their way”.
  3. Freedom Debt Relief graduates feel significantly better about their personal lives – For example, 83% say they can take steps to improve the quality of their life, 76% feel that their personal relationships are strong and healthy, and 60% of them report they sleep well at night!

You can read the Executive Summary for the Arizona State University report on the impact of Freedom Debt Relief on relieving stress in clients’ lives.

Less stressed.  Financially happier. Feeling better about their personal lives.  And debt-free. 

While I’m certainly not happy about the state of everyday American’s debt situations, I’m tremendously proud of the work we do at Freedom every day to help people strive for a better financial (and personal) future!


Sources

  1. CFSI “Understanding and Improving Consumer Financial Health in America”, March 2015: https://cfsinnovation.org/research/financial-health/
  2. Federal Reserve “Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2017-May 2018
  3. To calculate per household revolving credit card debt, we took the total revolving credit card at 1.05t, divided it by 44 percent (56m) of U.S. households that carry a balance.
    .https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/TTLHH, https://www.newyorkfed.org/medialibrary/interactives/householdcredit/data/pdf/HHDC_2018Q4.pdf
  4. Federal Reserve “Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2017-May 2018

Andrew Housser co-founded Freedom Financial Network in 2002 and Bills.com in 2005. Andrew sits on the board of directors of several startup companies as well as two independent school boards.