SOURCE: Take Charge America

May 15, 2008 08:30 ET

Take Charge America Offers "Spring Cleaning" Personal Finance Tips

Non-Profit Financial Services Organization Has Timely Advice for a Fresh Start on Personal Finances

PHOENIX, AZ--(Marketwire - May 15, 2008) - Take Charge America is offering consumers four easy personal finance tips and is encouraging people to put the important, and often life-changing, task of financial clean-up at the top of their spring cleaning list this year.

"Spring is a perfect time for consumers to review their financial situation and rethink their spending habits to help them to better manage money," said Mike Sullivan, director of education at Take Charge America. "As consumers are reorganizing their homes, and cleaning out closets and garages, they should consider doing the same for their financial life by reviewing their finances, creating a livable budget and reducing debt."

Sullivan notes that all consumers can benefit from taking a step back to carefully review their overall spending habits and total debt. This can help them determine what they can do to freshen up their finances and live a more organized and stable financial life. He offers the following tips for embarking on a spring budget makeover:

1. Take a look at your "good" and "bad" debt - Review the good, bad and
   essential sides of your debt to determine what you should be spending
   where. "Good" debt might include mortgage and student loans, as they
   often have lower interest rates and can boost net worth and/or lifetime
   earnings. "Bad" debt includes high-interest credit cards, and
   oftentimes, auto loans, as these debts lower your net worth and may
   mean you are living beyond your means. Finally, don't ignore necessary
   debt, such as medical bills, which may come unexpectedly.

2. Create a livable budget - After determining what debts are necessary
   and which are the result of non-essential purchases, sit down and
   create a list of what expenses you have each month and compare it with
   your monthly earnings. Categorize the "good," "bad" and necessary
   purchases and see where you can make some alterations. If you find you
   owe more money than you earn each month, you may want to consider
   contacting a credit counselor, who can walk you through your expenses
   and give you tools to help you create a manageable budget.

3. Downsize debt - Next, focus on paying off your "bad" debt by summer, or
   in a reasonable timeframe for your individual needs. High-interest
   credit cards can cause you to pay twice as much or more for something
   if you do not pay them off each month. Put any extra cash toward
   downsizing this debt so that you can focus on living within your means,
   and saving money for the future.

4. Earn interest on extra cash - Once you've begun living within your
   means, start saving money and earn even more of it. Instead of keeping
   extra funds in your checking account, where you might be tempted to
   spend it, explore new savings options that can yield a higher interest
   rate. Consider opening a money market checking account with higher
   interest or purchasing a certificate of deposit to remove the temptation
   to spend.

"By making just a few small financial changes this spring, consumers can achieve the peace of mind that comes with starting anew, leading to a greater sense of accomplishment, and even a more satisfying year," said Sullivan.

ABOUT TAKE CHARGE AMERICA

Founded in 1987, Take Charge America is currently celebrating more than 20 years of service as one of the country's largest non-profit financial education and consumer debt service organizations. Through education, customized credit counseling and debt management, Take Charge America helps consumers achieve self-reliance, financial stability and financial freedom. Take Charge America is a member of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies, a national membership organization established to promote quality and consistent delivery of credit counseling services. In 2006, the organization received the Better Business Bureau Ethics Award in recognition of its business ethics and integrity in the marketplace. To learn more about the organization or its programs, please call 1-800-823-7396 or visit www.takechargeamerica.org.

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