Debtors Anonymous

Debtors Anonymous is a group where members help each other to recover from "compulsive debting." Its doors are open to people whose lives have become out of control due to unsecured debt and overspending.

Debtors Anonymous Overview

This organization was formed in 1968 by a group of people who were members of Alcoholics Anonymous. They had achieved their goal of becoming sober but were having financial difficulties. The group was originally called the "Penny Pinchers." The name was changed to the "Capital Builders." The original members of the group thought that their money problems came from an inability to save, they deposited funds into a savings account on a daily basis.

Later, they realized that the root of the problem was the members' failure to become solvent. They renamed the group Debtors Anonymous in 1971 and adopted the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous to deal with the disease of debting. Debtors Anonymous is active in more than 12 countries, including the United States (which has more than 500 groups).


The only requirement for someone who wants to join Debtors Anonymous is the desire to stop adding to one's unsecured debt. Members of the group respect each other's anonymity, and Debtors Anonymous does not publicly support any outside issues.

Traditions, Steps, and Process

Members of Debtors Anonymous are encouraged to keep specific records of the amount of money they make, spend, and owe to creditors. Members of the group are invited to attend meetings on a weekly basis. In addition, they are encouraged to participate in "pressure relief meetings." A pressure relief meeting is when a newer member meets with two more senior Debtors Anonymous members to review the new person's finances in detail. The more senior members can offer advice to the new person about his or her finances.

Effectiveness: Does Debtors Anonymous Work?

Debtors Anonymous doesn't publish members' names or its success rates. It does list personal accounts of success stories on its web site. The group claims that its strategies can be effective for people who want to stop incurring debt, either on their own or in conjunction with some type of credit counseling.

Getting a Sponsor

A sponsor is a person who has been through the 12 steps of Debtors Anonymous and who shares their experience and recovery with newer members. The sponsor is chosen by the newer member and is someone they have gotten to know through attending meetings. The new person is encouraged to find someone they feel comfortable with and that they can talk to openly during their recovery process.

Find a Debtors Anonymous Meeting Near You

Visit the Debtors Anonymous web site to find meetings that you can attend in person, online, or by phone.