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Five tips for financial fitness in 2017


Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

(Family Features) If a commitment to improving finances is among your resolutions for 2017, you’re not alone.

A survey from the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) shows that more than two-thirds of U.S. adults will make a financial resolution this year.

However, one out of three Americans said their financial quality of life is worse than they expect, as saving money and debt concerns top the list of stressors. Additionally, almost two-thirds of respondents experienced a financial setback in 2016, with transportation issues, housing repairs and medical care cited as the leading causes. For the nearly 50 percent of those who admit they’re living paycheck to paycheck, significant unplanned expenses can add up.

“To be successful with your financial resolutions in 2017, set thoughtful, realistic goals,” said Paul Golden, spokesperson for NEFE. “If your goal is to build an emergency savings, start with a small amount like $500 dollars to show yourself you actually can achieve that mark then set the bar higher. It’s not uncommon to be hit with an unexpected expense, so be prepared.”

These five tips can help get you on the path toward tackling your financial goals:

1. Get debt under control. Take a hard look at what you owe. If there are warning signs of too much debt, take action. Set a goal to reduce your debt next year by 5-10 percent. That might mean reducing impulse shopping, which six out of 10 people admit to doing, and 80 percent regret the purchases later. When you face temptation, walk away for at least 30 minutes to make sure you still want the item.

2. Start saving now. Ideally, you should have six to nine months of income set aside, but achieving a small goal can provide a sense of security and reduce stress. The rules of retirement have changed: Review your long-term savings and ensure they are appropriate and on target.

3. Shop for better services. Make a game out of shopping providers to find the best value in the services you use. How long has it been since you shopped your insurance policies? Is there any chance you can save money on your cell phone, internet or utilities? Visit current providers and ask, “What’s the best deal?” Be sure to understand your policies and services so that you are comparing fairly and accurately.

4. Understand what’s behind your financial decisions. If you’ve ever wondered why you feel good about spending money on vacations but avoid saving for retirement, the answer may lie in your unique values and how they influence your financial decision-making. Take the LifeValues Quiz at SmartAboutMoney.org.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Recruit a “financial buddy” and share your resolutions with a trusted family member or friend who can provide support in helping you meet your financial goals. Find someone who will hold you accountable and set a good example for you to follow.

For more help getting your finances in order, visit SmartAboutMoney.org.

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Make 2015 your year to improve financial fitness


BUS-Financial-Fitness

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Family Features

 

Lose weight, quit smoking, find a new job and get out of debt…does this sound familiar? Millions of Americans will resolve to change their lives in the New Year, but few will stick with their goals.

In fact, a recent survey by the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) finds six in 10 people will strive to improve their financial well-being in 2015. Changing your financial habits is a resolution you cannot afford to overlook. It’s time to flex your financial muscle.

The experts at the nonprofit National Endowment for Financial Education offer these seven tips to help make your financial resolutions stick:

Do it now. Many will wait until they feel the time is right to begin new behaviors. If you wait until after the big party to start watching your diet, or until after that big purchase to start saving money, the ideal time will never present itself.

Write down your financial resolutions. The NEFE survey finds setting a budget, making a plan to get out of debt, and boosting retirement savings are the top priorities for Americans in the coming year. Clearly articulate why you think your resolution is a good idea, steps you can take to reach your goal, and what you hope to gain. Post your list where you will see it each day.

Identify your money morals. Understanding your values and attitudes about money will bring clarity to the decision-making process. NEFE offers various online tools, such as the LifeValues Quiz, which will help you identify your values and make resolutions based on those values. You can find the LifeValues Quiz at www.SmartAboutMoney.org.

Recruit a “financial buddy.” Share your resolutions with a trusted family member or friend who can provide support in helping you meet your financial goals. Find someone who will hold you accountable and will set a good example for you to follow.

Vary goal intensity. Give yourself a short-term objective such as paying more than the minimum on one credit card this month. A long-term goal could be setting up – and adding to – the emergency savings account you know you should have but didn’t get around to starting last year.

Monitor your progress regularly. If you are trying to reduce debt, make sure you check your balances often. Set aside a couple of hours each week to address your finances. Over time this will become second nature and part of your normal routine.

Address conflict logically. If you find yourself breaking a financial goal by reverting to old spending habits, identify what value might be causing you to stray and take the time to ask yourself if the decision is appropriate given your current financial situation.

For help with setting goals and getting your finances in order in 2015, visit www.SmartAboutMoney.org.

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