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Charter One encourages financial discipline for 2011 income tax refunds

Consumers invited to see refunds as opportunities to make progress toward short-, medium- and long-term financial goals

CHICAGO - With 2011 federal tax returns due to the Internal Revenue Service tomorrow, Charter One is encouraging consumers expecting refunds to take a disciplined approach to saving and spending their refunds.

According to the IRS, the average tax refund last year was $2,913. With many taxpayers now anticipating a specific income tax refund date based on their filing software or IRS projections, this is an opportune time to start planning how to make the most of the 2011 income tax refund.

“It is very tempting to think of your refund as a windfall and to spend it quickly,” said Ned Handy, President Charter One and RBS Citizens, Illinois. “But the extra money also creates a natural opportunity for consumers to weigh how it can be used to address their short-, medium- and long-term financial goals.”

Chareter One suggests the following ideas on how to save and spend your tax refund this year:

  • Create an emergency fund – Regardless of your financial situation, it is important to have a “rainy day” fund that you can tap for unexpected emergencies such as medical bills or job loss. A good rule-of-thumb is to build up six to nine months’ worth of living expenses for such an emergency.
  • Save now for your next vacation – If you are planning a summer vacation, deposit your refund into a savings account. When you take your vacation and the bills come due, you will be glad you had the foresight to set this money aside in advance.
  • Open a Certificate of Deposit – If you are building a nest egg, consider opening a certificate of deposit which has a fixed rate and term and allows your money to grow in a safe FDIC-insured account.
  • Educational savings – It’s never too early to start saving for your children’s educational future. Some banks (including Charter One) offer special products to help parents and grandparents get an early start on saving for college.
  • Home repairs – Use the money to defray the cost of remodeling or home repairs. This may help to address home maintenance issues before they become critical and more costly. It also may increase the value of your home.
  • Reduce debt – Use the extra cash to reduce outstanding debt such as credit cards. Try repaying the balances with the highest interest rates first since they drain the most money from your budget.

As a bank that has been helping consumers save since 1871, Charter One offers a variety of unique savings programs that he lp its customers identify their savings goals and in some cases receive financial rewards from the bank as they make progress toward their goals. Charter One also offers an online resource for all consumers – MoneyHelp®, the bank’s guide to personal finance that can help consumers gain control of their finances. MoneyHelp can be used to develop a household budget, understand credit, plan for life’s most important events and more.

For more information about Charter One and to see other tools that can help you reach your financial goals in 2012, visit charterone.com.To discuss your savings needs, schedule a financial review with a banker at your closest Charter One branch. For the address and phone number of your closest Charter One branch, use the bank’s online branch locator or call the bank’s 24/7 customer service center at 1-877-242-7837 to speak with one of the bank’s agents.

About Charter One
Charter One is a division of RBS Citizens, N.A., operating in Illinois, Michigan and Ohio. It has 365 branches and 554 ATMs. It has 110 branches and 258 ATMs in Illinois. It has 108 branches and 118 ATMs in Michigan. It has 147 branches and 178 ATMs in Ohio. Charter One’s website is charterone.com.

RBS Citizens, N.A., is a subsidiary of Citizens Financial Group, Inc., a $130 billion commercial bank holding company. It is headquartered in Providence, R.I., and through its subsidiaries has more than 1,500 branches, approximately 3,900 ATMs and approximately 19,700 colleagues. Its 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 more than 30 states. CFG is owned by RBS (the Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc). CFG’s website is citizensbank.com.