Take Control of Your Finances

by cccozarks

I know a lot of us are worried about the fiscal cliff and how it will influence our finances but let’s start taking control of our money.

Start 2013 on the right foot and have a goal to reach.

Here are some suggestions:

Goal #1: If you have debt to pay off, then pay it off and put it behind you. This way you can take the money you were applying to debt and put it in a savings account. If you are affected with some financial set back, you are prepared.

Goal #2: Track your spending. Money slips through our fingers when we don’t pay attention to where we are spending our cash. It is easy to track. Use an APP on your phone or get a small notebook to keep with you and track everything you spend money on. When you are aware of what you are spending, you will spend less resulting in money available to set aside.

Goal #3: Start couponing and planning out your grocery trips. This is another great way to control your spending and eat at home more. Get a couponing system that works for you and start saving more dough. You may want to give yourself a grocery budget and stay within it. This keeps you accountable and makes it fun to be creative with your coupons. Some stores will double coupons or let you use their store coupons and the manufacturer coupons on a single item. Happy couponing!

Goal #4: Clean up your credit. It is time to pull your credit report and see what is affecting your score. Use www.annualcreditreport.com/ and pull all 3 bureaus at the same time or you can spread it out throughout the year to make sure changes are being reported. We are able to check our credit report one time per year with each credit bureau (Experian, Transunion, and Equifax) for free. When you pull your credit report you can assess what is negative and positive and work on increasing your credit score. There are websites where you can check out your score for free with no trial period, www.creditsesame.com/ and www.creditkarma.com/. Once your credit is cleaned up, you will be able to buy a home or a car with a lower interest rate. This way you will pay less over the length of the loan and have a lower monthly payment.

Goal #5: (My goal this year): Save, Save, Save. Figure out a way to save money and be prepared for increased taxes, setbacks, or whatever else that could be thrown at you. My husband and I have eliminated as many expenses as needed to be able to save. Our expenses are no more than my income alone. If a job loss were to happen for one spouse at least we can cover our essential expenses. Since we are both currently working, the extra money goes into savings. If both of us are out of work, we have money in savings to cover essential expenses. We have been in that situation before and it is very important that we have peace of mind.

This is my philosophy: When you have the money, set it aside. When you are facing hard times, you have money saved back.

Find out what will motivate you this year and take action. Always look into the future and don’t let material things take your eyes off the prize. 2013 here we come!!

Written by Beth Mincks, Consumer Credit Counseling Services