A Financial Shape-Up for the New Year Consumer Credit Management Organization Promotes Financial Fitness as a New Year's Resolution

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This is the time of year that many people re-evaluate themselves and adopt resolutions for self-improvement. While improved physical fitness usually tops the list, one of the most important resolutions that consumers can undertake is fiscal fitness. It is estimated that the average American adult is carrying $4,208 in revolving debt, comprised mainly of credit card debt, and the average American household is carrying $8,188 in such debt.

How did I live without this item before?

This is the time of year that many people re-evaluate themselves and adopt resolutions for self-improvement. While improved physical fitness usually tops the list, one of the most important resolutions that consumers can undertake is fiscal fitness. It is estimated that the average American adult is carrying $4,208 in revolving debt, comprised mainly of credit card debt, and the average American household is carrying $8,188 in such debt. Springboard Nonprofit Consumer Credit Management has been helping consumers get into better financial shape for more than 30 years.

Springboard suggests that consumers adopt the following resolutions to become more fiscally fit in 2009:

1.    I will consider the difference between my wants and needs 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 expensive designer fashions is a want, not a need. Ask yourself, "How did I live without this item before?" Avoiding spending patterns like this will significantly reduce your expenses.

2.    Today, I will take better care of my finances by creating a spending plan to map out my income and expenses. It is essential to set up a household budget to help guide you down the path of financial freedom. If you are paid more than once per month, determine which bills to pay from which paycheck to ensure bills are paid timely and avoid late fees. Implementing a written budget can help you avoid dependence on credit cards that can overextend your household budget.

3.    Today, I will plan for the future by saving for goals and unexpected emergencies. 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 emergencies. Unforeseen emergencies often are not such emergencies when we have a rainy day fund account.

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 credit and debt counseling session that will review your personal financial situation, create a custom budget and client action plan providing options, tips and solutions to assist you with overwhelming debt obligations.

5.    I will continue my personal education about financial health, budgeting, credit and personal debt. Knowledge is power. The more you understand your finances, the more you'll be able to manage them effectively. Springboard offers free educational seminars, tools, and materials to help you better manage your personal finances. Please visit the "Resources" section of their website at http://www.credit.org for this information, and for those without internet access please call Springboard at 1-800-947-3752 for printed copies of the educational materials.

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

7.    Today, I will write down my goals. If you have a specific financial goal in mind, you'll be more likely to achieve it by writing it down on paper. It is estimated that fewer than 3% of adults have written plans and goals. Meanwhile, it is estimated that people with clear, written goals are 80% more likely to achieve them.    

8.    Make the most of your New Year's Resolution. If you resolved to gain control of your personal finances in 2009 and would to take action on your resolution, visit Springboard's website at http://www.credit.org for free educational materials, articles, and calculators to help you get started -- click "Make the most of your New Year's Resolution" found on the bottom left of the home page. For those without internet access please call Springboard at 1-800-947-3752 for printed copies of the educational materials.

Springboard Nonprofit Consumer Credit Management

About Springboard 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-face and nationwide phone counseling services. For more information on Springboard, call 1-800 WISE PLAN (1-800-947-3752) ext. 7750 or visit their web site at http://www.credit.org.

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