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Balancing family inancial obligations has made it nearly impossible for some Black women to save, a study by ING shows. The survey, which polled 1,000 Black and 454 "non-Black" women about their spending habits, found that more than half of the Black respondents lent $500 or more to a friend or family member within the last year; one-third said they loaned more than $1,000. "Black women's sense of obligation to community and family is both extraordinary and commendable," says Rhonda Mims, president of ING Foundation and senior vice president of ING's Office of Corporate Citizenship & Responsibility. "But when you are pulled in so many directions financially, something or someone has to pay the price. For Black women, it appears their financial well-being suffers." Unfortunately, that sense of obligation has adversely affected Black women's ability to save. Among those surveyed:

· 66 percent own a retirement account, compared to 79 percent of all other women

· 28 percent own individual stocks and bonds, compared with 52 percent of all other women

· 23 percent own mutual funds, compared with 39 percent of all other women

How can Black women get out of debt? Suggestions from ING include: Resist impulse purchases. As much as 40 percent of Black women surveyed said they shop to cheer themselves up. Financial experts suggest "being more mindful and thinking twice before making a discretionary spend can make a big difference in your wallet over time." Use credit cards sparingly. Spending money you don't have in hand is never wise, regardless of economic conditions. So get into the habit of only using credit cards for purchases you've carefully considered. Use an automatic savings plan. Although financially supporting family members can make saving difficult, enrolling in an automated savings account is a seamless way to be sure you're socking something away. If your company offers a retirement savings plan, that's probably the best place to start. Don't be afraid to ask for help. As women increasingly become the breadwinners for their families, networking with other Black women who have similar problems can help them come up with solutions. Join an investing club for women. Often, people are uncomfortable talking to finance professionals, but an investing club for women is a great way to break the ice. Check out investing clubs in your community that are compatible with your level of experience and investment knowledge.