Saturday, February 16, 2008

Spending on Gas, Food Jumps 9% in Past Year

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- People seeking basic budget counseling from Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) of Greater Atlanta spent an average of $531 on gas and food in January 2008, 9 percent more than the average of $486 in January 2007.

The nonprofit credit counseling agency, which serves people in all 50 states, provided basic budget counseling to approximately 5,000 individuals in January. The average budget counseling client is 38 years old, had a gross annual income of just under $40,000 and total debt of $25,733. More than half are homeowners.

"There is no doubt that consumers are facing increasingly tough economic times," said Suzanne Boas, president of Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) of Greater Atlanta. "For many, increases in income do not begin to keep up with the rising cost of necessities."

For the individual calling CCCS in January, the $531 spent on food and gas accounted for about 30% of their monthly living expenses of $1,774.

The increase in spending on gasoline was most dramatic, rising from an average of $182 in January 2007 to $215 in January 2008. Since 2003, average spending on gasoline has almost doubled from its January 2003 low of $112 per month. Average spending on groceries increased 4 percent from January 2007 to January 2008, rising from $303 per month to $316.

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

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