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Tuesday, July 26, 2011
CCCS of Greater Dallas Offers Budget Tips to Keep Summer Utility Costs Cool
Nonprofit agency helps consumers cope with record high temperatures and bills
Dallas - July 26, 2011 - As the 100-plus heat wave continues from the Dallas Metroplex across the nation, consumers continue to see their utility bills rise. For most, it's critical to keep homes and businesses cool. It seems inevitable that keeping cool in the summer is going to be expensive, but there are ways to plan and keep your budget in line.
Review your monthly expenses. If trying to keep cool in the summer weather is melting away the money in your bank account due to high utility bills, you may need to reevaluate your spending to make up the difference. Cut back on unnecessary expenses to help you reallocate funds to compensate for the increase in summer energy costs. When the weather cools down, you can then use the savings to create a reserve fund for future increases or emergencies.
To help consumers budget for increases in cost-of-living over the summer, Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Dallas (CCCS of Greater Dallas), a nonprofit provider of financial education and credit counseling, is offering the following budgeting tips for higher energy costs.
Weather the weather. Do everything you can to pay your bills on time to avoid increased rates and late fees. If money is tight, always pay your mortgage or rent first, car payment second, utilities third, food fourth, necessary insurance fifth and everything else comes after that. Community assistance for food, housing and utilities may be available in your area during this time to help you through the heat wave.
Change your habits. Shop the discount chains instead of the gourmet grocery stores, eat out less and avoid buying expensive brand names to help with saving. You can also change your utility consumption habits by using energy- and money-saving tips outlined by the U.S. Department of Energy to help lower bills. For example, be sure you are turning off all lights and shutting blinds before you leave the house to cut your electricity costs by keeping the cool in.
Examine your plan. Depending on where you live, you might be able to review and change your utility plan to make it more amenable to your budget. Make sure you do your research and check with your Public Utility Commission to ensure the deal is worth its while. There could be many options that help you plan a better budget.
Avoid paying bills with credit. If you can't pay it off immediately, do not pay bills with credit cards. It's best to pay with cash, check or an online bill-pay system linked to your checking account so you avoid any added interest or late fees from a credit card company.
Get free help from a trusted provider. If you feel like you've done all you can to cut back on expenses and it just isn't enough, visit a credit counseling agency certified by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and the Council on Accreditation. Approval by these governing bodies means the agency has completed a strict certification process. Additionally, you should not have to pay for help. Nonprofit agencies like CCCS of Greater Dallas provide free education and counseling services. Know your options and avoid organizations that offer a quick fix that could ruin your credit forever.
"No matter what season it is, our goal is to help consumers develop a spending plan that is sustainable throughout the year - rain or shine," said Todd Mark, executive vice president of education for CCCS of Greater Dallas. "Our experienced counselors can help make the bill paying process easier by working with individuals one-on-one to develop an accurate budget and plan ahead for unexpected expenses."
For more information on free financial education, visit www.cccs.net or call 1-800-249-2227.
About CCCS of Greater Dallas
Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Dallas, Inc. is a nonprofit, community based credit counseling and debt management service. Established in 1974, CCCS of Greater Dallas and its affiliate offices provide financial education and counseling to consumers in-person, by phone, or Internet at more than 20 locations in four states. CCCS of Greater Dallas is a HUD-approved housing counseling multi-state organization and serves as one of seven counseling agencies supporting the 888-995-HOPE Hotline. The agency is also a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), the nation's largest and longest serving national non-profit credit counseling network. To learn more about CCCS of Greater Dallas' free seminars or the agency's services, visit www.cccs.net or become a fan of CCCS of Greater Dallas on Facebook to receive updates on agency events and offerings.