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Paying down debt top New Years resolution--Georgia CUs poll
DULUTH, Ga. (12/12/11)--About 49% of Georgia respondents to a recent poll from Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA) say their top financial goal for the next 12 months is to pay down debt. This mirrors nationwide sentiment among consumers.

In an annual survey by TD Ameritrade Holding Corp., 47% of respondents said they will resolve to reduce debt such as credit cards, mortgage or education loan.

The two most common resolutions among nationwide respondents were "have more fun" (66%), and "relax and reduce stress" (65%).

Among consumers with other financially related New Year's resolutions for 2012:

  • 51% plan to reduce spending;
  • 51% want to save for a financial emergency, such as a job loss or loss of a spouse; and
  • 30% plan to start or build up their retirement savings (401(k) or individual retirement account).
Just two years ago the TD Ameritrade survey found the opposite to be true. "Save more money" was the top resolution, followed by "spend more time with family" and "relax/reduce stress," respectively.

Cindy Owens, president of Piedmont Hospital FCU, Atlanta, said she believes more consumers are taking the initiative with their financial problems. "They are setting goals to help them get back on track," Owens told GCUA. "People who had a credit card with an astronomical rate and built up debt are coming to us for help in consolidating their debt and paying it down."

Piedmont Hospital FCU members look to reduce the amount they spend on financial services so they can focus on getting out of debt, Owens said. She added the best way for people to motivate themselves to stick to their financial resolutions is to keep the benefits of reaching the goal in view.

"When people come to us, we try to show them that there is some benefit to them in reaching their goal," Owens said. "If they have a goal of improving their credit, we help them see the benefit of each small step along the way. When they take out a small $500 loan and repay it on time, then their credit score improves. With a better credit score, they will be able to qualify for a low-interest car loan. Each step builds on the one before it."
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