2014 moneyAs you are clearing out clutter, sprucing up, and getting ready for summer, you also should start your financial spring cleaning by figuring out where you stand financially. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

1.  Get organized.

Build a personal financial filing system; get out your financial paperwork and file it in order of importance. Separate bills –  that way, you can track them as they come in, reducing the chance of missed or late payments.

Use a plastic tote for a filing cabinet – these keep your files dry and are easy to carry from one room to the next should you need to.

2.  Create a budget.

How much money do you have? Are you spending more than you earn? If you don’t have a spending record, start one. You can still get on with your financial spring cleaning today. If you haven’t been keeping a record, just make a deliberate effort to start now. Try to note all your spending for the next month, right down to the candy bar. Then, in a month’s time, you’ll be able to see where your money is going and, hopefully, see some areas where you can cut back.

3.  Pay off Debt

Now, let’s discuss what most people agonize over, but is a very important subject:  debt. If you have any debt beyond a mortgage, you should try to focus on paying off this debt as quickly as possible. It’s also important to try to negotiate your interest rates down with your credit card company if you can. Although this option may not be available to everyone, especially if your credit is not good, it’s worth trying.

If you are not successful, you can use these steps to reduce debt:

  • Stop using credit; charging new items increases the balances on what you already owe.
  • Do not open new lines of credit.
  • Request a free copy of your credit report from www.annualcreditreport.com and honestly assess the problem.  Understanding your situation helps when trying to resolve debt issues. Stop denying that you have a debt problem and work on it.  You can analyze your debts using Powerpay®. This website gives you a personalized report and plan to reduce your debt based on your input.
  • Break your debt load into manageable chunks; define your goal and focus on reducing manageable amounts.

For more information on financial education and tools to help you get out of debt; contact your local county Family & Consumer Sciences Agent.


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