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2013 - The Year to Get and Stay on Track with Your Money

 
2013 is here and now is a perfect time for consumers to develop habits that make up good personal financial money management. Apprisen encourages consumers to start off the New Year by getting and staying on track with their money, a resolution that will have lifelong benefits.

“Most consumers tend to focus in on one or two of things when they’re facing a financial problem. While that approach may provide a short term fix, it rarely leads to a successful long-term solution” states Jana Castanon spokesperson for Apprisen. “The key to a successful personal money management plan is doing a comprehensive review.”

Here is a checklist of important topics and action steps you can take now to create a financially successful 2013:

Develop a Strong Money Management Plan:

  • Get organized - It doesn’t matter if it’s a full-blown home office or a shoebox; put all financial papers in one place.
  • Goal setting - It is important to have financial goals that are short-term and long-term. Goals, with a timeline to reach them, provide motivation to stay focused on priorities.
  • Create a spending plan - Contrary to what most consumers think, a budget isn’t restrictive. A good plan actually allows consumers to spend hard-earned money more efficiently, often stretching it even farther. But most important, it gives control over financial decisions.

Learn to Handle Bank Accounts Well:

  • Consider automatic online bill paying - This is particularly useful for people who are forgetful or tend to put things off.  It’s ideal for routine payments, such as car and mortgage payments.
  • Keep an accurate check register - Enter all deposits and checks immediately. This goes a long way toward preventing overdrafts and unnecessary fees.
  • Reconcile bank statements immediately - It may not be fun, but it is important in order to stay on track.  It’s easier to tackle one statement monthly than spending hours chasing down problems from several months of statements.

Use Credit Wisely:

  • Learn to use credit to your advantage - When you use credit, you are committing to use your future income to repay something. Each type of credit (credit cards, installment loans, mortgages, etc.) has different terms, conditions, interest rates, fees and delinquency charges. Before you use credit understand that finance charges increase the amount you are paying for the purchase. Credit can be a tool to build wealth when it is used to purchase an asset, like a home, that will grow in value over time.

Build Savings:

  • Save 10 percent of take-home pay - put it into an interest bearing account each month and forget it’s there.  Promise to not pull any money out unless it is for a true emergency.
  • Contribute to company retirement plans - The maximum commitment is the goal, but short of that, make sure to contribute at least the amount the company matches – it’s free money.

Be a Smart Consumer:

  • ID theft and fraud - Protect against identity theft. Do not give out credit card numbers or Social Security numbers to sources you don’t trust.  Be aware of fraudulent scams, if it sounds too good to be true…it usually is.
  • Have an insurance check-up - It’s not wise to be over-insured or under-insured.  Schedule an annual visit with an insurance provider and make sure policies are in line with needs.

Manage Debt:

  • Pay down debt - Credit card debt can stand in the way of achieving goals. Make purchases with cash or a debit card. When the money is gone, the spending stops.

Understand Credit Reports and Scores:

  • Know what’s on your credit report – Most creditors report to the credit bureaus.  It is important to make payments on time to keep your credit report in excellent condition.  Consumers are allowed one free credit report from each of the major bureaus every 12 months.  Go to  www.annualcreditreport.com to access the reports.

 
Remember, a comprehensive plan is the goal.  However, focusing in on even one area will get you started and put you on the road to a successful personal money management plan.

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Apprisen, a national nonprofit credit counseling agency, has been helping consumers manage their finances and get out of debt for over 55 years. Certified counselors provide money management and debt counseling, HUD-approved housing counseling, and financial education. Services are provided in 10 states through local offices and nationally by phone or via the Internet. The oldest nonprofit credit counseling organization in the country, Apprisen was formerly known in its local communities as Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS). Accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA), CCCS is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and AICCCA. Information is available 24/7. Call 800-355-2227 or visit the website, www.Apprisen.com. You can "like us" on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Apprisen  and follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Apprisen.

 

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