Tuesday, September 23, 2008

People Seeking Credit Counseling in August Earned $49,308 Annually, Nonprofit Agency Finds

PRNewswire/ -- People seeking budget and debt counseling in August had an average annual household income of $49,308, an amount far above historic levels for people seeking this service, reports Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) of Greater Atlanta.

The income data is based on counseling sessions with 5,549 individuals in August who reported an average monthly income of $4,109, which is nearly 18% higher than the monthly income of people who sought credit counseling in August 2007. One year ago, people receiving the same kind of counseling had monthly incomes of $3,492.

"Rising unemployment, the continuing mortgage and credit crisis and rising food and fuel costs are causing people with good incomes to seek help paying their debt," said Suzanne Boas, president of Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) of Greater Atlanta. "People with middle-class incomes are finding it more and more difficult to meet their financial obligations."

CCCS of Greater Atlanta is a national nonprofit credit counseling agency that helps people in all 50 states in financial distress. People seeking budget and debt counseling are first-time callers who receive a free, confidential one-hour counseling session to help them find solutions for excessive debt.

Through the first eight months of 2008, the agency has conducted more than 37,000 budget and debt counseling sessions, a 39% increase compared to the same period in 2007.

People seeking credit counseling in August 2008 also reported this information:

-- The average person spent $638 for food and fuel in August, which is 20% higher than the amount people were spending in January, only eight months earlier. While people seeking help paid less for fuel in August than July, the amount spent on food continues to climb.

-- People seeking credit counseling who own their home reported monthly housing costs of $1,423, a 25% increase compared to people seeking credit counseling in August 2007.

CCCS professional counselors offer individual, confidential advice for developing budgets, managing money, using credit wisely and building a savings plan. Counselors will review a person's financial situation and help determine the best possible financial strategies. The counselor will offer solutions to a person's current financial problems, as well as personalized plans for preventing financial pitfalls in the years to come.

This service is available in English or Spanish. People can call for a free budget counseling session today at 1-800-251-CCCS (2227), or can begin an online counseling session at www.cccsinc.org .

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