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Consumer Financial Services Service Offers Tips for Getting Your Financial House in Order for 2011

Getting Started Now is Key to Success

Columbus, Ohio – November 9, 2010 - 2010 is almost complete so now is the time to point your financial life in a new direction for next year. Consumer Financial Services Service / Apprisen Financial Advocates recommends that consumers review where they are in order to determine where they're headed, and encourages them to consider implementing the following tips.

  • Get organized. It doesn't matter if it's a full-blown home office or a shoebox; put all of your financial papers in one place. This will save you time, as you'll never have to search for misplaced documents.
  • Consider online bill paying through your bank. This is particularly useful for people who travel, are forgetful, or are procrastinators. The system is ideal for payments that are the same each month such as car and mortgage payments.
  • Balance your checkbook each time you make a deposit. This should go a long way toward preventing overdrafts and incurring unnecessary fees.
  • Reconcile your bank statement the day it arrives. This is not a task that anyone looks forward to, but it's easier to tackle it one month at a time rather than spending hours chasing down that penny from several months back.
  • Create a budget. Call it a spending plan if that is more palatable. Contrary to what many think, a budget isn't restrictive. It actually allows you to spend your hard-earned money the way you want to, often stretching it even farther. Most importantly, it puts you in control of your finances.
  • Track your spending. It's not the large expenses that trip us up. It's the small things, and the periodic payments. Commit to writing down every cent you spend for 30 days. Go back and review your expenses to see how much you were over or under your projected spending for each category in your budget. Since you're now in control of your money, you can make the necessary changes to stay on track.
  • Start saving. Put 10 percent of your take-home pay into an interest bearing account each month and forget it's there. This is your emergency fund. Promise yourself that you will not pull any money out short of a true emergency.
  • Contribute the maximum to your company's retirement plan. The maximum commitment is your goal, but short of that, make sure that you're contributing at least the amount the company will match. If not, you're throwing away free money.
  • Have an insurance check-up. No one wants to be over-insured or under- insured. Schedule an annual visit with your insurance provider to make sure your policies are in line with your needs.
  • Tackle debt. It is likely that credit card debt is preventing you from achieving many of your goals. When you're in a financial hole, stop digging. This means no more charging. It is impossible to become debt free while still adding to your debt load each month. Make your purchases with cash or a debit card. This way, when the money's gone, the spending stops.
  • Review your credit report. Americans are allowed one free credit report from each of the major bureaus every 12 months. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com to access the reports online. Caution: there are many bogus sites with similar addresses trying to steal your personal information. Go to this site and only this site.
  • Mortgage Awareness. Mortgage interest rates are at historical all time lows. It may be in your best interest to refinance your mortgage to take advantage of these rates and eliminate thousands of dollars in interest payments. If struggling with your mortgage and running past due, contact a HUD approved counseling agency to help you modify your existing mortgage.

Consumer Financial Services Service / Apprisen Financial Advocates provides this list of a baker's dozen tips in hopes that it encourages consumers to get their financial house in order in 2011.

About Apprisen
Apprisen Financial Advocates, a national nonprofit Financial Services agency, has been helping consumers manage their finances and get out of debt since 1955. Certified counselors provide money management, debt counseling, HUD-approved housing counseling and financial education. Services are provided in- person in 10 states through local offices and nationally by phone or via the Internet. The oldest nonprofit Financial Services agency in the country, Apprisen Financial Advocates is known in its local communities as Consumer Financial Services Service (CCCS). Accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA), Apprisen is a member of the National Foundation for Financial Services (NFCC), the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and AICCCA. Information is available 24/7. Call 800-355-2227 or visit the website, www.apprisen.com. You can also follow CCCS/Apprisen on Facebook and on Twitter.

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