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Charter One recommends that consumers take the time to conduct a financial checkup as 2010 begins

CHICAGO (January 05, 2010) - Charter One is offering financial and budgeting tips for consumers to start off the New Year in the hope that consumers set their financial goals for 2010 and kick off the New Year on the right foot.

“It’s common for people to make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, spend more time with their family or quit smoking, but don’t forget to give your finances an annual checkup right about now, too,” said Scott C. Swanson, President and CEO, Charter One, Illinois. “Because the New Year is a time for reflection and starting fresh, it can provide an opportunity for consumers to make sure they are looking at and planning for their financial future.”

Charter One recommends making sure consumers are saving more than they are spending – always good advice regardless of the economic times. The bank suggests the following guidelines for a financial checkup:

• Reduce and eliminate debt – Look for lower credit card rates and consider consolidating high balances to the card with the best rate. Pay off credit card balances as much as practical. 

• Identify your goals – Set your financial goals for 2010. Evaluate your opportunity to save, as well as to pay down any debt.

• Build a budget – Write down and analyze all of your expenses, especially such “little” ones as your morning cup of coffee, because over the course of month the amount can be significant. Compare your income to what you’re spending. Make sure your budget includes money put away into savings each month.

• Establish automatic savings - “Pay yourself first” by having part of your paycheck automatically deposited into a savings account. The most successful savers start out small, increasing the amount over time.

• Evaluate your retirement savings strategy – Are you enrolled in your employer’s 401(k) plan? If not, you likely should be – the employer match is the equivalent of “free money.” Should an IRA be part of your strategy?

• Seek advice – Talk with your banker, financial advisor or accountant for additional suggestions.  One way to get started on the right track is to have a Free Fit CheckupSM from Charter One. It’s a brief review to ensure that your banking solutions fit your life and to learn more about ways to better manage your money and credit. Stop by any Charter One branch and ask about a Fit Checkup.

• Explore MoneyHelp –  MoneyHelp is Charter One’s easy-to-use online resource offering smart solutions, interactive tools and resources to help you gain control of your finances and give you peace of mind for the future. Use MoneyHelp to plan a budget, understand credit, plan for life’s most important events and much more. MoneyHelp is available at www.charterone.com/moneyhelp.

About Charter One

Charter One is a division of RBS Citizens, N.A., operating in Illinois, Michigan and Ohio. It has approximately 370 branches and 600 ATMs. It has 111 branches and 312 ATMs in Illinois. Charter One’s Web site is charterone.com.

RBS Citizens, N.A. is a subsidiary of Citizens Financial Group, Inc., a $151 billion commercial bank holding company headquartered in Providence, R.I. CFG’s two bank subsidiaries are RBS Citizens, N.A. and Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania. They operate a 12-state branch network under the Citizens Bank brand in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont, and the Charter One brand in Illinois, Michigan and Ohio. CFG has non-branch retail and commercial offices in about 40 states. CFG is owned by RBS (The Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc).