The holiday shopping season is over and credit card bills are beginning to roll in.

Many people rack up debt during the holidays and don’t know how to pay it off when the bills come in the mail.

Experts say the start of a new year can be the perfect time to get your debt under control.

A nonprofit called Operation Hope offers financial education for free.

Tiffany Roan is a Financial Well-being Coach with Operation Hope. She helps people get out of debt, create a budget and she puts people on a better financial path.

“What Operation Hope does and what I like to do is hold their feet to the fire. I serve and our organization serves as a mirror to say OK, so you want to have a better financial picture and increase your credit, then this is what it's going to take. I stay in their faces in a good way,” says Roan.

She says many of her conversations lately have to do with credit card debt and how to attack it.

“They have one card that's maybe $200 dollars versus a $2,000 balance. I always tell individuals to attack the smallest one if interest rates are still the same. It is easier. You knock it out, you get it out of the way and you have a victory,” says Roan.

If you have big balances with high interest rates and more expenses than you have income, Roan says you may need to think about a consolidation loan.

“If your expenses are $4,000 and your income is $2,700 then let's start looking at how we can make one nice easy payment, negotiate the interest rates so you have some breathing room,” says Roan.

When they finally get out of debt, Roan tells her clients to go celebrate. Next, she encourages them to create a budget and stick to it.

“It’s the foundation for planning your future,” says Roan.

She says it’s never too early to start saving for next holiday season to avoid another financial mess.

“There are several organizations that have Christmas accounts. Start setting aside those funds now. If it's $10 a month or $5 a month, start putting that money away so in October, November, December you have the money available so you don't get back into the credit card debt,” says Roan.

Operation Hope has two offices in Chattanooga located inside First Tennessee Bank.

If you’re interested in free credit counseling and financial planning services, contact the numbers below to schedule an appointment.


  • 2001 East 23rd Street, (423) 320-6523
  • 5526 Brainerd Road, (423) 355-9114