Home > Managing Debt > Credit.com and Jean Chatzky Announce The Debt Diet Participants

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As we kick off The Debt Diet—and introduce you to our five participants—first, let me say thank you to everyone who applied to be a part of this project. I know that sharing information on your financial lives, and your financial struggles, isn’t easy and I appreciate the trust and faith you have in me. I wish I could have chosen every one of you, but in the end I picked the five participants for a few reasons: I was looking for variety in the situations, readiness for change in the applications (because if you’re not ready, this program is not going to work), and—quite honestly—people I felt The Debt Diet could help.

My heart went out to one applicant in particular, a 52-year-old man who suddenly lost his mother a year and a half ago and has seen his spending out of control since then. He has over $130,000 in credit card debt on more than 30 different cards. The Debt Diet might be able to help him change his behavior and stop spending, but it isn’t the right tool for helping him deal with this credit card debt. He needs credit counseling. So although I didn’t pick him, I will be reaching out to him and finding him a counselor to work with.

Here’s a look at the people I did pick—in brief—and what I hope to accomplish with them over the next few months.  They’ll be blogging their progress regularly and I’ll be writing as well, spotlighting the universal challenges we all face when trying to escape debt.

I hope you’ll follow along.

Meet Penny »

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  • Frances

    Why are certain people “picked”? Frankly this makes me suspicious, that only those selected have problems (financial) that can actually be easily resolved.
    Sounds like a fixed project to me. An ad for a program or a website or book (future book perhaps? another simplistic 210-page “money magic” fixer?)…I’ll skip it.

  • Michael Schreiber

    Thanks for your note, Frances. The point of this exercise is to take a look at the efficacy of the program… see how it works, if it helps, and then you, the reader, can judge for yourself as to whether the program is worthwhile. I can guarantee you that this project is not designed to promote a book or anything of the sort, and the reason why certain applicants were selected over others is because there is no one size fits all solution for personal debt. The people Ms. Chatzky picked were selected because, as she noted in the article above, in her opinion they were the ones who could most likely be helped by the program. Now we’ll be putting that judgement to the test and see how they actually do. If you’re so inclined, we invite you to follow the progress of the participants, as we will, and judge for yourself.

    • Frances

      I really doubt if lack of success would be reported. Americans are skeptical nowadays. I’ve never seen these personal finance experts, who are always on the verge of or trying to sell (ing) something, own up when their solutions ar too simplistic or their are flaws in their programs. The only comments you ever see on these projects are positive, and they tend to be overly so, like these people have found a new religion. Like an Amazon recommendation (written it turns out by friends). If I follow, it will be to decifer how flaws and shortcomings of the program (which are inevitable, after all) are reported and dealt with (honestly). And passing it along as tips to my friends who are reporters.
      Americans are hurting. We need experts, not individuals who are in it for a buck, for the publicity, for the plug, for themselves. In my opinion.

  • Michael Schreiber

    While I can understand why you might think that, I can guarantee you that lack of success will be reported. We’ve put together a team of top notch experts, reporters and editors, whose sole purpose is to make the murky world of credit and personal finance clearer for people… to help them make smarter and more informed financial decisions. We were interested in the idea that personal debt problems can be mitigated by behavior modification techniques, as the debt diet promises… which is why we’re doing this series. Please read our first story on it here, which quotes both boosters and detractors: http://blog.credit.com/2011/04/jean-chatzkys-debt-diet-a-behind-the-scenes-look/
    In any event, we welcome both your scrutiny and your feedback.

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