Here are 5 tips to help you stay on top of your finances and finish this year on top of your game.
Tip #1. Check your credit report
Your credit rating determines everything today — the loan rate you’ll get on mortgages, credit cards or auto loans; as well as the rate you’ll pay for life and auto insurance. Your credit even affects your ability to rent an apartment and get a job. The Society for Human Resources says that nearly 60% of all employers do credit checks before making hiring decisions.
By law, you’re entitled to get a free copy of each of your credit reports once a year from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, which are the “Big 3” credit reporting agencies. Unfortunately two-thirds of all Americans haven’t seen their credit reports in the past year, according to a survey from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
Website Resource: http://www.AnnualCreditReport.com – This is the federally-mandated website where consumers can get truly FREE credit reports — without having to buy anything or sign up for any kind of
7-day trial, or credit-monitoring service.
Tip #2. Negotiate for a better credit card deal
Too many people are paying way too much money for the privilege of having a credit card in their wallet. Some people are being charged 20% or even 30% interest rates by credit card companies — even as
interest rates are relatively low.
The average interest rate for a variable rate credit card is around 15%. So if you’re paying more than that, it’s time to call your credit card company, and ask for a lower rate. If they won’t budge, take your
Website Resource: http://www.CardRatings.com – This is a great, free consumer website where people can comparison shop for the best available credit card deals and learn about the responsible way to use
Tip #3. Protect yourself with insurance
None of us wants to think about something bad happening – like a medical illness or an accident. Even fewer people like to think about their own mortality. But the fact is: we’re all mere mortals. We get
sick, we have car crashes, and we’ll all die one day.
Savvy individuals know it’s a smart idea to plan for life’s “What if” scenarios. So do yourself a favor and make sure your financial “Plan B” includes the proper insurance coverage — just in case. Life
insurance is particularly important.
Website Resource: http://www.Insurance.com – This easy-to-use site lets people search, free of charge, for all of their insurance needs — and get the cheapest quotes available for life insurance, disability insurance, car insurance and more.
Tip #4: Educate yourself/Ask for Help
Too many people suffer in silence when it comes to their financial troubles. They’re up to their eyes in credit card debt. They’re behind on their mortgage. They’re grappling with medical bills they can’t pay
— and they’re completely overwhelmed.
Unfortunately, we live in a country where – up until recently – financial literacy hasn’t been a priority. If you’re not financially educated, you’re at risk of being scammed and economically taken advantage of. Or you may simply make financial mistakes that can take you months, if not years, to recover from.
Tip #5: Create a realistic budget
Many people dread to hear the word “budget.” But if you don’t have a realistic budget, you’re probably over-spending and likely have cash flow problems.
A budget isn’t something to be feared. It should be welcomed. A budget helps you stay out of debt, know where your money is going, and allows you to reach your future financial goals — like buying a house or
starting a business.
Website Resource: http://www.Mint.com – This free, online budgeting software service is a snap at helping consumers keep their budgets on track. Mint will even send you email or text alerts about your spending to make budgeting easier.