125 North Fulton St. Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: (607) 273-4611
Toll Free: (877) 273-AFCU      Contact


BALANCE: A Credit Counseling Service

Whether you are interested in developing a workable spending and savings plan, getting out of debt, taking a look at your credit report, buying a home, or planning for your financial future, BALANCE can help.

BALANCE provides immediate access to a financial counselor by phone (888) 456-2227) at two levels: get specific questions answered quickly or get in-depth financial counseling. BALANCE's counselors can answer a wide variety of financial and credit related questions and send you supplementary materials in your areas of interest. Calls to counselors generally last five to 30 minutes, depending on your question and the amount of information you're looking for. If you need more in-depth counseling, you can make an appointment for a longer phone conference, still at no charge.

BALANCE counselors can help you with:

  • Money Management Counseling — A well-designed, realistic spending plan is the most important step to take in your journey to reach your financial goals. Counselors are qualified to discuss general money management, credit and housing topics. Each session is goal-oriented and results in a written action plan clearly outlining the steps you and your counselor decide to take in order to establish personal financial control.

  • Debt Management — If you are having trouble keeping up with your bills, one of your options might be consolidation of your bill payments. A Debt Management Plan, made available to BALANCE clients through CCCS of San Francisco, allows you to make just one payment to all your creditors.

  • Credit Report Review — Your credit report provides information concerning your credit and bill payment history to businesses and organizations that have a legitimate business purpose for reviewing it. The information on the report can affect your ability to purchase a home, rent an apartment, buy a car, receive favorable insurance rates, or even get a new job. BALANCE can provide a copy of your credit report. The cost is just $14. Once you receive your credit report, feel free to call us to schedule a Credit Report Review counseling session. During the session, your reviewer will examine and clarify the information in your credit report and give you detailed information about ways to improve your credit standing.

  • Housing Counseling — If you dream of owning your own home someday, it's never too early to start planning. When you will be able to purchase the home, where it be located, and what it will look like will depend largely on your qualifications for a mortgage. The down payment you accumulate and your debt-to-income ratio will affect the amount of money you can borrow. By reviewing your cash flow, savings plan and credit history and score, you will be prepared to make any necessary adjustments to qualify for the mortgage you need. An understanding of the mortgage loan process will also enable you to have all of your necessary information ready when the time comes.

  • Foreclosure Prevention — If you have missed mortgage payments or think you will miss future payments, you may find yourself in danger of foreclosure. The best way to avoid foreclosure (besides making all your payments) is to address the issue as soon as it occurs and to keep the lender informed at all times. As a HUD-certified housing counseling agency, BALANCE can help you understand your options when you are having financial difficulty.

Schedule an appointment
Using BALANCE is confidential. As an Alternatives member, you call them directly at (888) 456-2227 Monday through Thursday between 8:00am and 11:00pm, Friday until 8:00pm and Saturday 11:00am until 8:00pm or email
BALANCE and they will call you back to schedule the appointment. Visit the BALANCE website.


Credit Counseling at Alternatives
If you think you would rather speak in person with someone at Alternatives, we have an in-house
Credit Counselor.

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Chris Setlock

In the spring of 2014, we learned that our minivan needed repairs in excess of it's value. We'd already been cutting back on our auto use, and were trying to walk and bike more. We'd been talking with friends and reading about cargo bikes as a car alternative. Around the same time, a new business, "Boxy Bikes" opened in Ithaca, which specializes in electric and cargo bikes. We found a model we were interested in, and approached alternatives seeking financing. Alternatives set us up with a signature loan, and a "green loan" discount on our rate. Thanks to Alternatives, we are now the happy owners of a "Yuba Mundo" Electric Cargo bike. We can get anywhere we need to go, using no gas, and creating no emissions. I can carry two passengers, or a weeks worth of groceries. The loan will be paid off in two years, and the bike could last for many more, at a fraction of the cost of an automobile.

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