Managing Credit to Make It Work For You

Credit can be an effective money management tool-and like most tools, you have to learn how to use it properly.

However, according to a recent survey, many Americans still have a lot to learn when it comes to using credit wisely.

The survey of nearly 5,000 individuals revealed the following:

• Respondents reported that they save only about one percent of their income.

• Over half of participants-58 percent-said that their credit cards are at or near their maximum.

• Over one third-37 percent- have taken cash advances from one credit card to make monthly payments on another card.

• Fifty-nine percent pay only the minimum due each month.

"About 190 million Americans have credit cards and, on average, they spend $1.22 for every dollar they earn," said Howard Dvorkin, founder of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services, Inc.

As part of a campaign to educate consumers on credit, Consolidated has posted free, interactive credit courses on its Web site. Consolidated's Credit Scoring course helps people understand what a credit score is, how to improve it and the financial impact it has on everyday life. Since credit scoring determines a person's interest rate for mortgages, car loans and auto insurance, understanding how credit scores work is crucial.

The organization also offers comprehensive credit education on the ins and outs of credit, how to start and stick to a budget, restoring credit, and advice on choosing a credit counseling agency. In addition, recently named the site's debt calculators in its "best of the Web" directory.

Consumers can also call 1-800-778-4463 and receive a free budget analysis, learn how to pay their way out of debt and how to use credit wisely.

Said Dvorkin, "A great deal of time and money have been invested by the organization and staff over the last decade to improve our educational offerings. I'm happy to say we are being recognized for our efforts. "

When are you in over your head with credit? Consolidated experts say some warning signs include maxing out credit cards and only making minimum payments, paying bills from your savings and postponing doctor visits.

To learn more, see their Web site at or call toll free 1-800-778-4463.

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