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5 Gas Saving Tips to Avoid Pain at the Pump
This month the cost of gasoline is expected to be about 20 cents a gallon higher than last year, AAA predicts. The higher that fuel costs are, the more it takes a bite out of a family’s vacation plans or their overall budget.

The reality of the high cost of gasoline is that it can wreck a family’s budget. We’ve seen many families who are financially stressed because of having to put gas in their truck, van or SUV, or must commute a fair distance to work or school. People on fixed or limited incomes, such as students or retirees, are especially hard hit. Here are a few tips from CCOA for those looking to keep their gasoline costs under control:

• Don’t “floor it.” Fast starts and Indy 500 style driving drastically cut down fuel efficiency and can burn 30 percent more gasoline.

• Make sure your air and gas filters aren’t dirty. Dirty filters waste up to 10 percent more fuel. It’s like a marathon runner trying to breathe through a straw.

• Check to make sure the air pressure in your tires is adequate. Underinflated tires not only result in lower gas mileage, but wear out your tires sooner as well.

• Extra weight makes your car work harder. If your trunk is doubling as a storage closet, remove some items. For every 100 pounds of extra weight in the car, you lose 1 m.p.g.

• Explore your options. If possible, use public transportation. Ride a bike short distances. Or find carpool friends to split the costs.

Stretching your gas dollar can be helpful, but if it’s not enough you may need to take a step back and look at your overall household budget and see what else you can adjust
5 $mart $pending Tips
Every day we’re faced with hundreds of choices. Here are five smart spending tips to help make good financial decisions:

Buy used whenever feasible. Good quality used furniture, for example, can save you a bundle versus buying it brand new. Buying a used car can save you a ton of cash by letting someone else take the hit on the new car depreciation.

Wear something out before replacing it. Just because you can afford to go buy a new refrigerator, washing machine or car doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. The longer you can keep using a machine that’s working fine, the longer you’ll keep that money in your pocket.

Avoid instant gratification. Stop and think before buying. Spending impulsively or emotionally can wreck our finances. Always ask yourself if you need it and can you afford it.

Avoid falling into the monthly payment trap. It’s easy to rationalize expensive purchases by saying it’s a small monthly amount, but too many payments can financially drown you.

Be slow to buy new technology. Gizmos and gadgets drop in price after being out for awhile. Unless you need it for work or school, let the price drop some first.
Budget Your Vacation
As the school year winds down for many families, people may have already begun planning for their summer vacation. What’s incredibly tempting is to do whatever you want to do and just put it on a credit card and worry about it later. However, that’s a backwards approach and not the most financially responsible thing to do. The financial aftermath of charging a vacation you cannot afford could be a stressful mess that will take a long time to pay off and may make paying your normal monthly bills and living expenses that much more difficult.

The most important thing you can do? Look at your finances and see how much vacation you can realistically afford. Think you deserve a super-duper vacation? We think you do, too! But the question isn’t whether or not you deserve a terrific vacation, but rather “What can you afford?” We are emotional beings and when we let our emotions drive our spending, we can damage our financial health and increase our stress. Even if you think you can handle the debt because your income is sufficient, none of us are guaranteed what tomorrow may bring. We’ve seen people who could juggle a fair amount of debt who suddenly found themselves struggling with it when an illness or injury occurred, or they lost their job or had their hours cut unexpectedly.

If you do charge some or all of your vacation, make sure that it’s an amount you can repay within a few months. Otherwise you could find yourself still paying on the vacation when next summer rolls around and the increased debt could add a lot more stress to your life as it lessens your financial stability.

To avoid expensive hotel costs, look at fun options in your area such as parks, museums, concerts and other local attractions. And be sure to pack your own food, drink and snacks, rather than pay $3 for a bottled water at a park, hotel, or convenience store. Lastly, remember that fond memories are made by spending wonderful moments together and not necessarily by spending a large amount of money.
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Help For Homebuyers
CCOA’s next free Homebuyer Education class is Saturday, August 2, 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