Here’s Help for Rising Mortgage, Housing Costs
ATLANTA, Oct. 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — For many homeowners, an increase in monthly mortgage payments, growing property taxes or higher home insurance costs are making it more difficult to pay their housing bills.
Research by Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) of Greater Atlanta, Inc. shows that homeowners it is counseling to prevent foreclosure report an average monthly mortgage payment of $1,573, a 42% increase compared to the $1,110 monthly payment reported in 2006. CCCS of Greater Atlanta is a nonprofit credit counseling agency that serves consumers across the United States.
“Every day we see clients struggling to just to stay ahead of rising costs,” said Michelle Jones, vice president of counseling for CCCS of Greater Atlanta, Inc. “They fall behind on their payments and need to seek credit counseling to make certain they save their home.”
The best long-term solution homeowners can pursue is to secure a fixed- rate loan. For all homeowners, CCCS offers additional cost saving tips:
Reduce Homeowners Insurance costs – Consider increasing your deductible, which can reduce your premiums, but will require you to pay more out of pocket if you make a claim. If you have more than one policy with the same insurance carrier, such as home and auto, you can typically get a 5 to 15 percent savings on your premium. You might also qualify for a discount if your home has smoke alarms, a monitored security system, or hurricane shutters
Evaluate your property taxes and explore homestead exemption – As the housing market boomed, so did the appraised value of many houses. If you think your property values are overestimated, you can request that they be reevaluated. If your appraised value is lowered, your taxes will also be reduced. Check your state’s homestead exemption policy. In many states, filing for homestead exemption will reduce the taxable value of your home and may also limit your annual increases in property tax.
Look for savings inside and outside your home – Start by evaluating some of your monthly services and determine which are absolutely necessary. Do you really need 250 channels, or could you live with basic cable or without cable at all?
— If you use your cell phone as your primary phone, consider
disconnecting your land line. If you can’t bear to part with your
phone, cable and internet access, shop around. Many companies offer
options to “bundle” these services together at a significant discount.
— Turn down the thermostat. According to a recent report by Consumer
Reports, lowering the temperature by 5 or 10 degrees at night and when
no one is at home can slash your energy bills by up to 20 percent per
year. If you can’t remember to change your thermostat, consider
installing the programmable kind – they are available for as little as
$30 and can add up to big savings.
— Reduce your grocery bill. By planning your meals, making a list before
you shop and avoiding shopping while hungry, you can save substantially
on your grocery bill. Compare prices on your staple items, buy in bulk
when it is more cost effective, and avoid making more than weekly trips
to the store. Watching for specials, such as “buy one, get one free”
offers and using coupons can also maximize savings. Consider bringing
your lunch to work-you can save $5 to $15 per day.
— Skyrocketing gas prices have taken a toll on everyone’s wallet.
Planning your trips to minimize driving times, carpooling, and using
alternative modes of transportation when possible can all add up to
savings at the pump.
If you are still struggling to keep up with your housing expenses, CCCS can help. Our certified counselors can help you review your current financial situation and work with you to create a budget and financial plan to get you back on track. Contact CCCS at 800-251-2227 or online at www.cccsinc.org or www.cccsenespanol.org.
Since 1964, families have turned to Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Atlanta for help with money problems. CCCS is a nonprofit community service agency dedicated to helping families achieve financial stability. A United Way partner, CCCS provides confidential budget counseling, money management education, debt management programs, bankruptcy counseling and education, and comprehensive housing counseling.
CCCS is accredited by the Council on Accreditation and is a member of the Better Business Bureau and the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC). Governed by a community-based board of directors, CCCS is funded by creditors, clients, contributors and grants from foundations, business and government agencies. Service is available at offices throughout metro-Atlanta and north Georgia in English, Spanish and American Sign Language. CCCS offers around the-clock help by phone at 1-800-251-CCCS or at its Web sites, www.cccsinc.org and cccsenespanol.org.
CCCS Atlanta is the headquarters for the CredAbility Network, a family of agencies serving consumers in north Georgia, south Florida, middle Mississippi and east Tennessee as well as nationally via telephone and Internet. CCCS of Greater Atlanta / the CredAbility Network are headquartered in the United Way Building on Edgewood Avenue in downtown Atlanta, where the Atlanta counseling office is also located. Other Georgia branches are in Cobb County, Decatur, Douglasville, Fayetteville, Gainesville, Gwinnett County and Rome.
SOURCE Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Atlanta, Inc.
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