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Neubaum's strategy is much like those of the vast majority of clients he deals with still in the prime of their working years, Hodgson said.

Though some planners offer hourly sessions to appeal to moderate income clients (instead of charging fees based on the assets they have), the cost may still run anywhere from $200 to $1,000, which may still be too expensive for many, he said.

More Central Floridians have gradually turned from being deeply in debt during the financial crisis to saving and investing today, financial experts say.

expenses.

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Though opinions may differ on how to manage your 401(k) funds during a market downturn, people who have just escaped major personal debt are just glad to get the chance to invest at all, Hodgson said.

Overall, average consumer debt in Metro Orlando has dropped 5 percent from $26,960 in 2008 to $25,528 in 2013, according to the credit agency Experian. The national average has dropped less than 1 percent during Nike Air Vapormax Midnight Navy the same period.

credit card debt he had run up. He also has worked on accumulating emergency savings to cover six months of living Adidas Prophere Ladies

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There is no easy way to do it, however, said Hodgson, who advised Neubaum.

"He's still young enough and has the risk profile needed to think long term about investing," Hodgson said. "For people who have come out of debt like this, it is not so much investing in the market, but investing in themselves, replenishing their 401(k) accounts and taking the long view."

Next up would be investing in his company sponsored 401(k) plan, using the cash he had previously earmarked for paying his debt.

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´╗┐Central Floridians climb out of debt

Such fundamental advice from credit counselors is invaluable for debt challenged consumers, who often can't afford financial advisory services, said Larry Breen, a certified financial planner in Lake Mary and president of the Financial Planning Association of Central Florida.

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"Our approach [involves] more financial coaching, with the emphasis being on building assets after establishing a good financial foundation," he said. "That's something we're in a good position to provide.".

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George Janas, president of Consumer Debt Counselors, said there is a clear need for debt counseling agencies to expand the service to their clients.

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"I think the financial crisis awakened consumers to understand the peril of credit card debt and living beyond your means," he said. "So the sooner they could de leverage their debt, the sooner they could move on to the next column: building assets through savings and investing."

"We believe that financial planning shouldn't be just for the wealthy and affluent," Breen said. "That being said, most certified financial planners have skill sets that are focused on affluent clients. So it's not economically feasible to go down a different path."

hunger to invest may seem like an unusual sentiment in Orlando. It was once branded by a consumer finance group as the nation's "most financially distressed city" where people are among the least likely nationwide to save and prepare for retirement.

That holds true even as the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged hundreds of points recently, he said. That's when investors learn the value of dollar cost averaging: the conventional wisdom of steadily investing in a fund even when the market is down so they can profit when prices rise again.

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At a clip of nearly $700 a month or nearly 20 percent of his take home pay it took five years for Neubaum to pay off tens of thousands of dollars in Nike Uptempo 96 On Feet

"You have people who were way in debt who depleted their 401(k) funds and are absolutely annoyed they missed the market's run up over the past four years," said Tom Hodgson, a credit counselor for Winter Park based Consumer Debt Counselors. "Now they are ecstatic to get back into it."

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