It's Your Money: Crisis Counseling - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

It's Your Money: Crisis Counseling

MADISON (WKOW)--The financial crisis has put a lot of things into perspective for us as a nation and as citizens.  One of the more glaring lessons: many of us don't know nearly enough about our money and what we do with it.

Debra Neubauer is the administrator of Dane County's Financial Education Center.  She counsels people about their money problems every day.

"I think a lot of people got in over their heads because they didn't know what they were getting into, absolutely.  Calls I've been getting recently are people who are surprised that their 401k's and retirement accounts are not insured by the FDIC." 

No, they're not.  Only your savings accounts at banks and credit unions are insured by the federal government, up to $250,000.  And on the subject of retirement accounts, Neubauer is hearing from people looking to withdraw their savings.

"If they're not 59 1/2 and they take it out and put it in anything other than a retirement fund, they're facing taxes and penalties. "

Mortgages are also on the minds of many people calling Neubauer for help at the Financial Education Center.

"We have been getting a lot more calls from folks facing foreclosure and many of them are way past being able to help them.  If they haven't made a payment in six months, there's not a whole lot education-wise we can do."

Neubauer says one of the best things you can do when it comes to your mortgage or any other debt is to stay out in front of it.  So, if you know you're going to have trouble paying, call the company -before- you're late and explain your situation.  They'll often be willing to work something out.

"Don't panic; look at the consequences of every decision you're faced with.  And see what's best for you and see what you can sleep at night with."

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