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Most Americans Can’t Survive One Month On Savings Alone
The majority of Americans would not be able to survive for just one month on readily available savings if they lost their paycheck, according to a new report. A recent study from Pew Charitable Trusts shows a bleak picture of Americans struggling with financial stress. Although the national economy has recovered to some extent, American families are still greatly struggling.

The study determined that 70 percent of American households face at least one of the following three problems: insufficient savings, high debt burdens or monthly expenses that exceed income. Emergencies are unfortunately a fact of life. It isn’t a question of IF someone will have one, but WHEN. Having only a month’s salary saved for emergencies is horribly insufficient, like trying to cross the ocean in a canoe. If a family experiences a job loss, a significant cut in work hours, or a medical issue that prevents mom or dad from working for four weeks, it could spell financial disaster for that family. The bills could pile up. The mortgage could fall behind. The car might get repossessed.

As grim as that picture is, it gets worse: Fifty-five percent of households would not be able to cover a month of expenses with funds in easily accessible places like savings accounts. They could only financially survive for a few weeks or less. So just what can families do? Here are a few essential steps to take:

• Take a look at the finances – how much is saved as a financial safety net and how much more does it need to be? :

• Review your expenses – track expenses for one month so you KNOW where your money is going. Not where you THINK it’s going or HOPE it’s going. Big difference. :

• Make changes in your spending/budget – look for ways to reduce or eliminate some expenses. :

• Use that reduction in spending to increase your emergency savings. :

Don’t just wish for better financial security. Be proactive and start working a game plan to improve your family’s financial health today.
Recovering from Holiday Overspending
Uh oh. You’ve blown it. You overspent on the holidays and now it’s a struggle making ends meet in January. The fallout from spending too much can be expensive and painful. But now the big question is how do you get back on-track?

Make a game of it. For one month, try not to spend money on anything that isn’t a necessity. No way? At least try it for one week. You may be surprised at how much money you will save. Remember, it’s temporary – it’s not forever. And it will jumpstart your finances getting back on track.

Review your expenses. The start of the year is a great time to review expenses such as your TV, phone and Internet. Can you reduce some options? Contact your company and tell them you’ll switch to another provider if they can’t give you deal. Retention specialists at those companies will usually help you by lowering your rates.

Put up – or cut up – the plastic. Charging more debt is only going to make matters worse. Use cash, checks or debit cards until things are back under control.

Create a spending plan, if you haven’t already. If you have a budget, the start of the year is a good time to review it for any possible adjustments. If you don’t have a budget, know that it’s a three part process: 1) Set specific goals you wish to achieve for your money, such as a new set of car tires, because goals are our motivation for doing and sticking with a budget; 2) Track your spending for a month so you know exactly where you’re money is going, not where you think or hope it’s going; and 3) Plug your tracked spending numbers into a budget sheet. If you have a shortage, you’ll need to further reduce your expenses or earn more income (or both).

Start thinking and planning now for this next Christmas so you can avoid overspending the next time around. Get a Christmas Club account, start on your holiday budget sheet now, etc. Prior planning prevents poor performance
Start The New Year Off Right
Are you completely satisfied with your finances? Most of us wish we could do even better. But don’t just wish things were different -- Now is the perfect time to take some action and set some financial goals for the new year.

It’s important to set financial goals. Otherwise, as the saying goes, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll probably hit it.” Don’t overwhelm yourself with setting too many goals – aim for perhaps six to 12. Any more goals and you run the risk of being discouraged by taking on more than you can do. So choose however many you feel is challenging yet realistic for you to accomplish. Write the goals down. People who write down their goals are more likely to be successful in achieving them than people who just have goals in their head. When we see the goals, it serves as a reminder and encourages us to keep working at them.

Make sure your goals are specific. “I want to have some money in savings” is too vague. “I want to have $1,000 in savings by the end of April” is a good, specific goal – you have a specific amount and a deadline to achieve it.

Creating specific, written financial goals is a great way to take charge of your finances for 2015!
Education Survey
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Money Check Up
Take the My Money CheckUp! Answer some basic money and credit questions to get a snapshot of how you are doing financially and what areas you may need to work on. Best of all – it’s FREE! Check Up
Help For Homebuyers
CCOA’s next free Homebuyer Education class is Saturday, November 1, at Washington County Extension Sign Up
Credit Counseling 101
Ever wonder what a credit counseling session looks like, or what exactly is a debt management plan? These short videos show you.
Website Updates
CCOA is committed to continually improving our service to you. Several clients have suggested that we add a new feature to our Web site that allows clients to access their quarterly client statements, rather than receive it in the postal mail. We heard you. This year we have been diligently working on creating this new capability for your convenience. Simply go to our Web site at www.CCOAcares.com and click on the “Client Log-In” tab on the top right of our home page.

Your username is your CCOA client number and your password is the primary’s last name plus the last four digits of the social security number.

If you have any questions please email us at ccoa@ccoacares.com or call 479-521-8877 or 800-889-4916.
Credit Counseling of Arkansas, Inc., Credit & Debt Counseling, Fayetteville, AR