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By |December 13, 2014

It’s easy for us to think of this year’s tax refund as free money coming to us courtesy of Uncle Sam. However, the truth of the matter is that the check you receive is a return of your own hard-earned money. And since you’re going to get your own money back, why not use it to get ahead of your financial goals?

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By Geoff Williams | Dec. 9, 2014

You're short on cash, but there is something important you need to spend money on, like your mortgage or an electric bill or groceries. So you settle on what's often called a "Band-Aid" fix. That is, you come up with a very short-term solution that solves your financial dilemma today.

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By Farnoosh Torabi | November 12, 2014

Fronted a pal for a meal, a vacation or rent? These will help you collect what you're owed, and keep your relationship intact. Raise your hand if you’ve fronted money to a friend or relative only to realize that your “loan” ended up being a “gift,” money you never saw again.

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Money Saving Tips for a Debt Free Christmas

By Jenna Rehnstrom | November 12, 2014

Sioux City, IA (ABC9 News) - If cash was as easy to come by as open properties in Monopoly, we'd all be rich.
But, for the Holmes family, money matters are no game. They take budgeting seriously, and they're reaping the rewards.

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Lending money to friends and family members can jeopardize your relationships

By Dustin W. Schofield | November 14, 2014

Lending money to friends and family members is common. According to a survey by American Consumer Credit Counseling, 82 percent of people would lend money to a family member and 66 percent to a friend. But that doesn't mean it’s risk-free. Not only is there a chance you could lose your money, but you may also put your relationship with the borrower in jeopardy.

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The five money moves that can whip your finances into better shape

By Brandpoint (BPT) | March 25, 2014

By now you’ve abandoned your plan to eat a healthier breakfast and spend an hour at the gym every day. Across the country, self-improvement resolutions have fallen by the wayside. Instead of succumbing to guilt and frustration over what you might not do this year, why not focus your energy on a goal that’s achievable at any time of year – financial fitness?

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Money Etiquette: How to Separate Friends and Finances

(MAINST) - November 20, 2014 - How do you channel your inner Emily Post to create money etiquette habits that build better relationships with family, co-workers and friends?

It's not easy, say the folks at American Consumer Credit Counseling. Different people have different money habits, and one man's $100 loan to a friend can be another man's $100 gift with no strings attached (even if the lending friend doesn't realize it). There really are no hard and fast "money rules" everybody can agree on.

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Student Debt Has 17% Saying They Should Have Said No to College

(MAINST) -- October 30, 2014 -  With total U.S. student loan debt rising to $1.1 trillion and more than 1 million college students joining the burdened each year (1.3 million in 2012, up from 0.9 million in 2004), a growing number of collegians say they're having "regrets" about taking on all that financial obligation.

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Why Most Americans Are Hesitant to spend

(KTAR) -- October 20, 2014 - A financial research company published good news on Tuesday about the average financial security of Americans. The company, called Bankrate, said in their report that Americans' financial security has increased in October for the third consecutive month.

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Front Lines to Food Lines: Why Are Military Families Seeking Food Assistance?

(Desert News) -- September 11, 2014 - Jennifer Gilmore, executive director of the Feeding America San Diego food bank, recently drove through a neighborhood of three-bedroom homes with manicured lawns and clean sidewalks in a military housing development. When she arrived at her destination — the neighborhood school — she was stunned to see 300 people waiting for food.

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A Renewed Effort To Connect Mass. Veterans With Services

(WGBH) -- September 4, 2014 - By the end of 2030, Massachusetts is expected see nearly 50,000 veterans come home. And some of them will come to fairs like this one at Beverly High School.

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Supporting family members can stall retirement

(BenefitsPro) -- August 20, 2014 - Nearly 60 percent of Americans are supporting either elderly parents or young adult children in some way, support that can often pose a roadblock to retirement, according to national financial education nonprofit American Consumer Credit Counseling.

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a Better Way to Deal with Student Loans

(WBUR) -- July 30, 2014 - Once upon a time, America invested in its young people so that they could enter the world without debt. College was meant to provide opportunity and strengthen the overall economy by creating a better- educated workforce. Looking at the numbers today, I can only think that our current system has failed this generation.

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Can I get a credit card with poor credit?

(Fox Business) -- July 24, 2014 - Dear Credit Card Adviser,
I have been applying for secured and unsecured credit cards as a way to rebuild credit. I keep getting denied because of unpaid medical bills. Are there credit cards that someone with poor credit can qualify for?

-- Natalie

Dear Natalie,
Getting an unsecured credit card may prove difficult, depending on how poor your credit actually is.

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How to escape the medical care debt trap

(LA Times) -- July 23, 2014 - The single biggest cause of personal bankruptcy in the United States isn't job loss or irresponsible use of credit. It's medical expenses.

An analysis this year by NerdWallet Health found that about 60% of all bankruptcies are health related. And a comprehensive study by Harvard researchers who examined a large sample of 2007 bankruptcy filings found that, "using a conservative definition, 62.1% of all bankruptcies … were medical." That research, published in the American Journal of Medicine, found that most of these "medical debtors were well educated, owned homes and had middle-class occupations."

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7 Tips For Lending Money To Family

(Forbes) -- July 22, 2014 - You’ve got to give Shakespeare his props. When he penned the famous phrase from Hamlet, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be,” he offered the world a piece of timeless advice.

Lending money to family or friends can be a touchy subject, especially if you’ve opened your heart and your wallet only to have both trampled on. Yet people make loans to loved ones all the time. In fact, Boston-based American Consumer Credit Counseling reports that 82 percent of Americans would lend money to a family member in need; 66 percent would do the same for a friend.

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Americans blowing travel budgets on 'obli-cation' trips

(Money News) -- June 25, 2014 -“Obli-cations” — trips for reasons like family reunions and weddings— are taking a bite out of Americans wallets.

During the past 12 months, Americans spent some $185 billion on trips because they felt obligated to be somewhere, the American Travel Behavior Survey from discount travel site reveals.

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Survey: Consumers Use Tax Refunds to Pay Down Debt

(ACA) -- June 14, 2014 - Americans were budget and money conscious with their tax returns this year, according to a survey by American Consumer Credit Counseling. Sixty-nine percent of American consumers used their tax refund to pay down debt and get ahead on monthly expenses such as rent, utilities and car payments, while only 16 percent splurged and bought themselves something, according to the survey.

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(Main Street) -- June 13, 2014 - Half of new college graduates are relying on their parents to give them money even though just 6 percent are unemployed, a recent study finds.

The study, from the University of Arizona’s Take Charge America Institute, tracked 1,010 students over five years and found that students are relying heavily on parents or partners for money.

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(Main Street) -- June 12, 2014 - Fathers Day is only days away, and the mission for family members is to treat dad like a king for a day without spending a king's ransom on gifts and swag.

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Acing personal finance after graduation

(FOX 25) -- May 27, 2014 - With students graduating with an average of $26,000 worth of student loans, they're just adding to the millions of Americans who hold over a trillion dollars worth of student loans. Being financially literate is not always something taught in schools, so it's important for soon-to-be grads and recent grads to learn about fiscal responsibility and how to best handle debt. ACCC's Matt Paradise recently appeared on FOX 25 to discuss the topic.

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(The Street) -- May 13, 2014 - The notion that high school students should study personal finance seems to make a lot of sense. After all, knowing how to balance a checkbook or review a credit statement or home mortgage bill is arguably as important as studying the Civil War or dissecting a frog.

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(Investopedia) -- May 7, 2014 - Statistics show the odds are stacked against the Millennial generation: They will retire later than their parents – or not at all. But time offers hope. Gen Yers have decades to correct the effects of a bad economy, slow job market and delayed financial planning. Taking action now and avoiding critical mistakes may spell the difference between retiring on time or over a decade late.

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(The Street) -- April 29, 2014 - Call it the "Target effect."

After consumers got wind of the data security breach that left customer credit card numbers open to identity thieves last year, many stopped using their credit and debt cards while shopping at the national big box retailer.

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improving your financial life after foreclosure

(Credit Solution Program) -- April 16, 2014 - Legally, a foreclosure can stay on your credit report for seven years. It can lower a credit score and make it more difficult to apply for loans and even find rental housing. But life after foreclosure doesn’t have to be all bad news.

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( -- April 2, 2014 - In fact, thieves could be redirecting your mail, glancing over your shoulder at the checkout or sneaking into your car or home while you are right there, all in the search for credit card information. “Low-tech identity theft happens a surprising amount of time,” notes Jane Carpenter, founder of Maine Identity Services, which offers data breach repair kits and assists victims of identity theft in her state.

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flab to fit: 5 money moves that can whip your finances into better shape

(Journal Sentinel) -- March 26, 2014 - By now you’ve abandoned your plan to eat a healthier breakfast and spend an hour at the gym every day. Across the country, self-improvement resolutions have fallen by the wayside. Instead of succumbing to guilt and frustration over what you might not do this year, why not focus your energy on a goal that’s achievable at any time of year – financial fitness?

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the truth about target's credit monitoring offer

( -- March 20, 2014 - Consumer Reports has come out with some pretty valid criticism of the free ID theft monitoring service Target is offering for one year for U.S. customers.

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(FOX25) -- March 6, 2014 - American Consumer Credit Counseling's Matt Paradise sits down with Fox 25's morning show to discuss the latest data security breaches and how consumers can protect themselves against identity theft.

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Managing your Money

(WWLP) -- February 28, 2014 - American Consumer Credit Counseling, along with fellow Massachusetts Financial Education Collaborative (MFEC) members and other partners, collaborated with MassSaves to host the first annual State House Financial Capability Day. During the event, community outreach staff members Matt Paradise and Sue Katz spoke to the crowd, giving advice and insight on money management and the need for Financial Capability Day.

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(Fox Business) -- February 27, 2014 - Do you make less than $50,000 a year? How about less than $30,000? Marilyn Timbers, a certified financial planner and ING retirement coach in Stamford, Conn., has good news: You can still save enough to live a comfortable life during your retirement years.

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5 habits to get 800+ credit score

(Credit Solution Program) -- February 21, 2014 - Joining the ranks of the credit elite with an 800+ credit score can do much more than provide bragging rights.

A higher credit score can help you qualify for better interest rates and other terms from lenders, saving you thousands of dollars on an auto loan, home mortgage, credit card interest, or any other type of financing. Investing the savings — which can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars — can result in close to $1 million over a lifetime.

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17 signs you might be flirting with financial disaster

( -- February 19, 2014 - While the overall financial situation has recently improved in the United States, many Americans are still facing tough personal financial circumstances.

“Let’s face it, everyone has good intentions when it comes to their personal finances, but sometimes we get off track. It is so important to be able to recognize the signs leading up to a personal financial disaster,” said Steve Trumble, president and chief executive of national nonprofit American Consumer Credit Counseling. “You can avoid a financial catastrophe by getting back on track before it’s too late.”

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( -- February 19, 2014 - The line between a future of financial solvency and one of distress is thinner than you might think.

Unfortunately, many people don't realize they're on the wrong side of that divide until it's too late, says Jessica Cecere.

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cash-only holdouts are fading

(Albuquerque Journal) -- February 16, 2014 - At Padilla’s Mexican Kitchen, staff have been known to recite a list of nearby ATMs.

Customers, meanwhile, have been known to pay their tabs with spare change rounded up from their car.

Because Padilla’s only accepts cash or checks, the occasional would-be diner has been known to walk out once they realize the plastic in their wallet will do them no good.

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Flirting with financial ruin?

( -- February 13, 2014 - It wouldn't be romantic in the traditional sense, but the best gift for your Valentine might involve fiscal restraint. After all, financial difficulties are not very romantic. So before you spend money on that expensive bottle of perfume or splurge on dinner in a white-tablecloth restaurant, you might consider a less-expensive gesture.

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Health vs. Wealth: What's More Important?

( -- February 6, 2014 - As far as self-improvement goes, personal finance and health are important to Americans — just think about how many people have New Year’s resolutions like losing weight, getting out of debt or making more homemade meals (a potential two-in-one resolution).

But if you had to choose one or the other (financial health or physical health), what would you prioritize?

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Want to get your hands on a zero-interest credit card?

(THESTREET) – January 29, 2014 -  So you want a credit card with zero-percent interest?

While they disappeared during the credit crunch, credit card issuers have brought them back lately. Despite their proliferation, they're tough to get, and high in demand, but obtaining the highly rare zero-interest credit card is doable if you know where to look.

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American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) provides credit counseling, financial education and debt relief options for individuals and families with too much credit card debt or unsecured personal debt. Our certified credit counselors have helped thousands of consumers find credit card debt relief by learning how to reduce debt and how to get out of credit card debt. Our debt assistance services and debt management plans allow consumers to consolidate credit card bills into a single payment, and provide help with negotiating credit card debt in order to lower interest rates and finance charges, to ultimately eliminate debt through a credit card payoff plan.

American Consumer Credit Counseling - Consolidate Debts - Better Business Bureau American Consumer Credit Counseling - Consolidate Debts - Mass Housing Approved National Industry Standards for Homeownership Education and Counseling American Consumer Credit Counseling - Consolidate Debts  - Council on Accreditation American Consumer Credit Counseling - Consolidate Debts  - NFCC Member