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Financial Literacy Month

Financial Literacy Month

Tips for Getting Your Finances in Order

April is Financial Literacy Month, and with the uncertainties that come with coronavirus (COVID-19), protecting financial health has become top of mind for many people. For many, improving their finances right now is a very daunting task, but the skills you take away from this crash course in financial learning will prove their worth.

Research what financial help options are available to you. Federal, state, and local governments are all rolling out additional assistance to help people get through this pandemic. If you find yourself with any loss in income, knowing your options could save you your home, car, and livelihood. Assistance programs can include extended unemployment, and loan deferments.

Ensure future generations understand financial literacy. Only 21 states require high school students to take a course in financial literacy. While spending time at home with your children, teach them about financial literacy, as well as advocate for expand learning in schools when things return to normal.

Make savings automatic. Saving for retirement is important, but coronavirus has shown us that having an emergency fund in place is essential. It’s easy to get off track when you aren’t consistently saving a portion of every check. Automating your savings is a hassle free way to maintain financial stability. There are 3 ways you can do this:

  • Setting up automatic transfers with your bank to move a set amount to your savings every time you get paid.
  • Splitting your direct deposit. This is a great method, because you can send your savings to a separate credit union from your primary account, making it easier to not touch the money.
  • Saving additional money. Bonuses, tax returns, or even additional income from a raise, should all go to savings.

Take advantage of this extra time at home to assess your finances and lay out a solid foundation for your financial future. Go through bank and credit card statements to evaluate how you are spending your money. As you go through each purchase, ask yourself if you need it, if you can you afford it, and can you get a better deal on it. It may also help to divide spending into essential (housing, groceries, and utilities) and non-essential (eating out, spa days, and monthly subscriptions) to get a clearer picture of where your money is going.

Assess all your debts by listing out all your active accounts. Using a spreadsheet is the most efficient way to do this. You’ll want to include the following information:

  • Debtor
  • Balance
  • Available Credit (if it is a revolving line)
  • Interest Rate
  • Due Date

This gives you a clear picture of what needs to be paid and when. If you need any assistance paying these bills, contact your creditor to see what programs they are currently offering.

Take a spending cleansing. Being at home makes it easier to avoid eating out, but use this time to take a break from all non-essential spending. Redirect these funds to paying down debt, or building a emergency fund.

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