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Advice to Consumers: Watch Your Dollars and Financial Sense

April 4, 2008

Minneapolis, MN – April is Financial Literacy Month, so designated by Congress to increase awareness about the importance of money matters and to encourage consumers to avoid financial problems arising from too much debt. Geoff Bullock, financial educator with Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota, says it's all too easy to get into financial hot water, and often difficult to get back out of it.

"We're in a culture that does promote the purchasing of everything that you desire. And so, it's important to really fight back against that urge, and spend money wisely, because debt can be a discouraging and frustrating thing."

Bullock says not all debt is bad. For instance, borrowing money for a home at an affordable interest rate makes sense. But credit card debt is expensive, and it often creates even more debt.

Bullock says debt can be a short-term cure leading to a long-term financial headache.

"Debt can be a crippling and overwhelming thing--especially debt with high interest and debt that is more of a liability than an asset. You can get in over your head and get discouraged. That's why it's important to stay on top of a budget, stay on top of a spending plan, and not resort to spending and using credit."

Bullock says finances become more tricky as the lending industry becomes more complex and as options for borrowers increase.

The key to financial solvency, he believes, is to make a plan and stick to it.

"No matter where you are financially, or whatever tax bracket you're in, the bare bones, the skeleton, of your financial life should be a working budget. Meaning, you have a plan for how you spend your money. You have a knowledge of what money you take in so that you can then distribute it properly into savings, into spending, into paying your monthly bills. That is a great place to get started."

Bullock advises people to pay bills in full and on time, spend within their means, save a little and say "no" to offers that seem too good to be true. He adds that advice on financial matters is available from various sources, including Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota.

More information is at www.lssmn.org/debt.

Jim Wishner/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - MN