New Year's Resolution: Financial Freedom -- Springboard Non-profit Consumer Credit Management Offers Advice

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Make the most important New year's resolution for your financial health - learn to manage money and pay off debt with tools from Springboard Non-profit Consumer Credit Management.

It's traditional at the beginning of a new year for people to re-evaluate themselves and adopt resolutions for self-improvement. Some decide to improve their level of physical fitness by joining a gym or trying a new diet. Others focus on eliminating bad habits such as smoking and drinking. One of the most important resolutions that tends to fall by the wayside in many American households is financial fitness. Springboard Non-profit Consumer Credit Management has been helping people get into better financial shape for over 30 years.

"January is always a tough time financially for families who relied on their credit cards to make it through the holidays, " said Gary Aguilar, Vice President of Counseling Services at Springboard. "We recommend that consumers take some time off during the holiday season to put their financial lives in order and start 2007 off on the right foot." Springboard suggests that consumers who are serious about a financial shape-up adopt the following resolutions for 2007:

1)    I will consider the difference between what I want and what I need before every purchase. Too often we base our buying decision on emotions. Spend money only on what you need as opposed to things that you want. For example, wanting a new car because your neighbor just bought one is a want, not a need. Avoiding spending patterns like this will significantly reduce your expenses.

2)    I will take care of my finances today by creating a spending plan to map out my income and expenses. It's essential to set up a household budget to help guide you down the path of financial freedom. Implementing a budget can help you avoid dependence on credit cards that can overextend your household budget. (Springboard's certified credit counselors can assist you with putting together a personal spending plan free of charge).

3)    I will take care of my finances tomorrow by saving for goals, emergencies, and my future. A healthy savings account prevents you from having to borrow money when emergencies occur. Having financial reserves safeguards your household from any unforeseen expenses. Unexpected expenses occur all the time. Whether you need to purchase new tires or have repair work done on your vehicle, a savings reserve will prepare you for these types of unforeseen emergencies.

4)    I will meet the credit obligations I have made on time and as agreed. If you've had problems in this area, you'll be amazed at how much stress you can eliminate by getting caught up on your bills and debt payments. Springboard offers a debt management plan that can possibly assist you with becoming current on past due credit cards, and reduce outrageous interest rates.

5)    I will continue my personal education about financial health, budgeting, credit, and personal debt. As they say, knowledge is power. The more you understand your finances, the more you'll be able to manage them effectively. Springboard offers free education workshops and resources to help you better manage your personal finances.

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6)    I will plan, beginning today, for the next holiday season, and will not include credit cards in those plans. By starting early, you'll avoid getting caught up in the shopping frenzy at Christmas time. By using cash, you'll avoid digging yourself deeply into debt before a new year starts.

7)    If I am over-obligated, I will seek professional credit counseling assistance. There's no shame in getting a little help from the experts when you're in over your head. You will be amazed at how much it reduces the stress in your life.

"The sooner you identify a spending or debt issue, the sooner you can take action to take care of it," adds Aguilar. "It's never too late to start developing good financial habits, and even simple steps can lead to big improvements."

Springboard offers free confidential counseling and education to consumers nationwide. For more information on their services, or to talk to a counselor, call 800-WISE PLAN (800-947-3752), or visit http://www.credit.org.

About Springboard Non-profit Consumer Credit Management

Springboard is a nonprofit credit education and financial counseling organization founded in 1974. The agency offers personal financial education and assistance with money,credit and debt management through confidential counseling. Springboard is accredited by the Council on Accreditation, signifying high standards for agency governance, fiscal integrity, counselor certification and service delivery policies. The agency provides pre-bankruptcy counseling and debtor education as mandated by the Bankruptcy reform law. Springboard is a HUD approved housing counseling agency and a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, a national organization of nonprofit credit counseling agencies. The agency has several locations in California and offers face-to-faceand nationwide phone counseling services. For more information on Springboard, call 1-800 WISE PLAN (1-800-947-3752) ext. 750 or visit their web site at http://www.credit.org.

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