CHARLESTON, W.Va. - While managing a budget is a constant challenge, stretching finances is especially difficult with credit card bills arriving from Christmas purchases.
Experts say it's still possible to take charge of your budget in 2013.
Officials at Apprisen encourage consumers to begin the New Year by getting and staying on track with their money, a resolution with lifelong benefits.
Apprisen, a national nonprofit credit counseling agency for more than 55 years, has certified counselors who provide money management and debt counseling. Local offices of Consumer Credit Counseling merged with Apprisen last year. West Virginia offices are located in Cross Lanes and Bluefield.
Crystal Kudlak, division manager based in Cross Lanes, said January and February are typically the busiest times of the year.
"People are getting bills, and there is the shock factor," she said. "People say, 'Did I really spend that much on Christmas?' "
She suggests immediately stashing credit cards where they are not readily accessible. Whittle away at the balance by making more than the minimum payment each month. Credit card statements list how long it will take to pay off a card by making minimum payments along with interest costs. That alone is an eye-opener.
If things seem totally out of hand, a free consultation may be scheduled by calling 800-355-2227 or 304-720-3640. There is a fee, based on income, for those who choose to become a client in the debt management plan. Visit the website www.apprisen.com for more information on available services.
However, there are immediate steps for anyone who wants to get a handle on money.
"I think the most important thing is to look at take home pay and regular monthly expenses," Kudlak said.