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The Money Minute - August 2011

Handling Your Debt Ceiling

As consumers, we need to be aware of our debt ceiling. The Federal Reserve Bank recently reported an increase of 8% in revolving consumer debt usage, most of it on credit cards.  Facing today’s economic environment, it is imperative that consumers take on debt wisely.  Savings should also be a priority. Don’t wait for your debt to get out of control before action is taken.  Reduced credit scores and higher interest rates on credit cards are only a few of the consequences that may result.  Get on track with your finances today.  Apprisen Financial Advocates offers this advice to help you get started.

  • Pay off your credit cards. –  On your credit card statements, look for the box that will tell you if you pay a little bit more than your minimum payment how much you will save in interest and time in paying it off.
  • Start or add to your emergency fund. –  Today more then ever, it is important to have at least 3 months of expenses in an emergency savings account.  Even if you feel that goal is unrealistic, start saving something.  Have as little as $5 a week transferred to your savings, you will be surprised at how fast that can add up.aving a plan in place where every dollar that is coming into your household is accounted for will help you keep your spending under control and your savings goals achievable..
  • Only open up new credit when necessary. – Determine your needs and wants.  Never open up a new line of credit for a need unless you intend to pay off the balance within a month. 
  • Follow a monthly budget. – You have heard this before, but following a budget is the best thing you can do to help you keep track of your spending and allow you to allocate extra money to build your savings and pay down your debt. Visit our Quick Tips to learn more about establishing a money management plan and building savings.

How Consumers Deal With Rising Gas Prices

With  rising gas prices, many consumers find it necessary to make changes  in their driving behaviors to cut back on expenses.  Apprisen Financial  Advocates  July  online poll indicated that the majority of consumers, 74%, are combining errands into one trip to save time and money. Starting a cold engine multiple times can use twice as much fuel as a longer trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm.

Reducing speed is what 11% of the respondents choose as their answer to reducing gas costs.  It can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds  and by 5 percent around town.  In addition, while each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed, driving over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.29 per gallon for gas.

Carpooling, walking and taking public transportation were the least popular responses, with only 5% answering positively to each option.  But they are all important to consider when facing fuel costs averaging $3.65 a gallon. With carpooling, you can cut your weekly fuel costs in half and save wear on your car if you take turns driving with other commuters. Making the choice to walk or take public transportation to your destination makes sense not only for your pocketbook, but for the environment also.

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