SOURCE: Neighborworks America

April 09, 2009 14:30 ET

NeighborWorks America Urges Consumers to Get Back to Financial Basics

Offers Tips to Get Your Financial House in Order

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - April 9, 2009) - With the recession, job loss, and the foreclosure crisis continuing to make headlines in 2009, NeighborWorks® America is observing Financial Fitness Month (April) by offering tips to help consumers strengthen their financial know-how with a few Financial Fitness Training tips.

"Financial education provides consumers with the information and practices they need to take control over their finances and build wealth, regardless of income," said Ken Wade, CEO of NeighborWorks America. "With education and determination families can pay down their debt and build a financial cushion that is a critical safeguard during tough economic times."

NeighborWorks' Financial Fitness Training Tips include:

--  Create a budget.  Examine last month's bank statement.  Create a
    budget spreadsheet armed with information about your wages, how much you
    spend each month, and categorize your spending.  Expense categories can
    include: Rent or Mortgage, Gas, Groceries, Utilities, Insurance, Car
    Payment, Credit Card Payment, and more.  After you see how much you are
    making, how much you are spending, and what you are spending your money on,
    you will be better able to create a budget that works for you.
    
--  Cut expenses.  Going out for lunch or dinner, daily trips to the
    coffee shop, and more, add up.  After creating a budget and examining your
    spending over the last month, you will likely see expenses that can be cut,
    which may add up to monthly savings in your bank account.  Instead of
    buying a daily cup of coffee, make a cup at home.  Bring your lunch instead
    of buying it everyday.  And, cook dinner at home with your family or
    friends instead of meeting up a few times a week.  The combination of
    coffee at home and a bag lunch a couple of days a week has the potential to
    save more than $50 each month.
    
--  Tackle debt.  Once you cut unnecessary expenses, you may find a little
    extra money that can be used to tackle any debt you may have.  To be truly
    financially fit, work on paying down and eventually eliminating your debt
    by paying more than the monthly minimum payment.  The monthly minimum
    payment may barely cover the interest the debt accrues, which means that by
    paying the minimum each month, it could take more than a dozen years to pay
    off the debt.  By paying even a little more than the minimum, you are
    working your way toward financial fitness.
    
--  Build an emergency fund.  With each paycheck, make an effort to
    contribute to a savings account separate from your checking account.  Each
    contribution, no matter the amount, builds a cushion for emergencies down
    the road.
    
--  Enroll in a financial fitness course at a nonprofit NeighborWorks
    organization in your community. Financial fitness courses can teach you
    money management skills that can help put them on the path to decreasing
    debt and increasing resources.  Financial literacy can also help you become
    more aware of common pitfalls -- including consumer scams and predatory
    lending practices -- and how to avoid them.  To find a NeighborWorks
    organization near you that offers financial fitness courses, visit
    www.nw.org/network/nwdata/financialfitness.asp.
    
--  Avoid being scammed.  If you are facing financial difficulty from
    foreclosure, job loss, credit card debt, and aren't sure where to turn for
    guidance, seek help from a nonprofit HUD-approved housing or credit
    counseling organization. Avoid scam companies that contact you first and
    promise to "eliminate debt" in their advertising.  Nonprofit organizations
    have your best interest at heart and will work with you one-on-one to
    remedy your situation. The old adage, "You get what you pay for," does not
    apply with reputable nonprofits. To find a NeighborWorks organization or
    other nonprofit HUD-approved housing counseling organization near you,
    visit www.findaforeclosurecounselor.org.
    

For more information about financial fitness, contact Erin Angell Collins, 202-220-6317, ecollins@nw.org, or visit www.nw.org.

About NeighborWorks® America

NeighborWorks America creates opportunities for people to improve their lives and strengthen their communities by providing access to homeownership and to safe and affordable rental housing. Since 1991, we have assisted nearly 1.2 million low- to moderate-income families with their housing needs. Much of our success is achieved through our support of the NeighborWorks network -- more than 230 community development organizations working in more than 4,400 urban, suburban and rural communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. In the last five years, NeighborWorks organizations have generated more than $15 billion in reinvestment in these communities. NeighborWorks America is the nation's leading trainer of community development and affordable housing professionals. www.nw.org.

Contact Information