Managing Your Money: Saving up for the Good Stuff
February 25th, 2015

From http://www.consumerfinance.gov/blog/youve-got-goals-for-your-life-and-some-of-them-take-money-to-achieve/?utm_source=social&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=02242015_y1

Written by Laura Schlachtmeyer

When you look ahead to your future, what kind of changes do you see?

You might envision major changes, like moving to a new city for a new job, starting a family, or helping your kids move out and live on their own.

You might anticipate smaller changes too, like starting a hobby or exercise program, upgrading your home appliances or technology, spending more time with friends or family, or volunteering more. Maybe you want to reduce your debt, or save up for a purchase instead of charging it.

Goals, whether long term or short term, usually cost money to accomplish. That means when you have a life goal, you probably have a financial goal, too.

Life goals—and financial goals—can be small or large, short-term or long-term. Helping consumers reach their own goals is an important part of our mission. Whatever your goals are, here are a few steps that can help you reach them:

  • Set a financial goal. Let’s say you want to go on a vacation next year, and you set a goal of saving $1,000.
  • Break it down into specific steps. You could decide to save $1,000, for example, by bringing lunch from home instead of buying it for $5 a day. Or you could set aside $20 from your pay every week for 50 weeks. Or you could find additional income from an extra shift or side job.
  • Set up the system you need to make it work. Sometimes we forget the small things that can get in our way—like making sure you have the right kitchen supplies and groceries to make lunch every day, or opening a savings account to keep your vacation fund separate. Set up what you need in your life, so that you don’t have excuses to miss your goals.
  • Get help sticking to your plan. You can set up automatic transfers at your bank, moving funds automatically from checking to savings. You can set a weekly alarm on your phone. You can ask a friend to remind you—or join you and save along with you.

America Saves Week can help you get started—and stay on track

Taking place from February 23-28 this year, America Saves Week gives you an annual chance to get started on saving. If your own goals include saving for the future, take the America Saves pledge today, and you’ll stay motivated all year with tips and reminders.

Now is the time to think about how to achieve the changes you envision for yourself. Know what motivates you, then take action. By meeting your financial goals, you’ll make a start on following your life goals.

When thinking about setting financial goals, consider what financial well-being means to you. Learn more about what consumers across the country told us about their financial lives and views of financial well-being.

Posted by Heather Osteen   |  0 Comment(s)  |  Leave a Comment

Preparing for the Holidays: NFCC Poll Suggests Consumers May Have Seven-Year Post-Recession Spending Itch
December 3rd, 2014

NFCC Poll Suggests Consumers May Have Seven-Year Post-Recession Spending Itch

Washington, DC – The November online poll hosted by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®) revealed that close to half of all respondents (49%) predict that their financial situation will be better at this time next year.  

“Consumers exhibiting financial confidence is certainly a positive sign for the American economy. Having been cost-conscious since the beginning of the recession, consumers may now be experiencing the seven-year itch with a desire to begin spending again,” said Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the NFCC.  “However, if not handled responsibly, attempting to satisfy that itch could invite a personal financial disaster.”

Debt issues can confront anyone at any time.  For example, consider the following profile of the average person who came to an NFCC member agency for financial counseling during the first half of 2014:

Reason for seeking counseling:  The majority of consumers who sought financial assistance attributed the cause of their distress to a lack of financial management understanding and skills.

Age:  One-quarter of the consumers were in the 25-34 age range, with those 35-44 representing the next highest segment. 

Gender:  Females were the most likely to seek counseling (59%).

Marital Status:  Single people narrowly edged out married couples, 37.7% to 35.5% respectively.

Race:  The majority of clients were white (47%), followed by African-American (47%) and Hispanic (8%).

Income and debt:  The average household income was above $55,500, with unsecured debt of close to $17,000 spread across more than five credit cards.

If this profile looks familiar, it’s because the face of financial distress cuts a wide mark through America, not sparing any age, gender or race. 

Fortunately, the NFCC member agencies can provide solid assistance to those struggling with financial concerns by offering trustworthy advice and solutions.  Approximately one-third of the clients who sought counseling selected a Debt Management Program (DMP) as the solution to their financial concern.  The DMP is a plan that allows consumers to responsibly manage their living expenses while still addressing debt reduction.  Proving the value of the counseling, close to forty percent of consumers were able to manage their finances without the help of a DMP after receiving counseling from an NFCC Certified Consumer Credit Counselor. 

“As the holidays approach, the NFCC encourages consumers to not let their newly found financial confidence result in being generous to a fault.  Financially confident is where you want to remain.  Don’t let it slip away through irresponsibly spending,” continued Cunningham.

If you seek financial solid ground or want to ensure that you remain there, reach out today to the NFCC member agency closest to you for counseling in-person, by phone or online.  To be automatically connected to an agency near you, dial (800) 388-2227, or locate an agency online at www.NFCC.org

The actual poll question and results are as follows:

At this time next year, I predict that my financial situation will be

  1. Better = 49%
  2. Worse = 17%
  3. About the same = 23%
  4. No idea, as the economy is too unstable for me to make a guess = 11%

Note: The NFCC’s November Financial Literacy Opinion Index was conducted via the homepage of the NFCC website (www.NFCC.org) from November 1–30, 2014, and was answered by 865 individuals.

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The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest serving national nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services. NFCC members annually help millions of consumers through more than 600 community-based offices nationwide. For free and affordable confidential advice through a reputable NFCC member, call (800) 388-2227, (en Español (800) 682-9832) or visit www.nfcc.org.  Visit us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/NFCCDebtAdvice, on Twitter: twitter.com/NFCCDebtAdvice, on YouTube: www.YouTube.com/NFCC09 , on Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/nfccdebtadvice/

and our blog: http://financialeducation.nfcc.org/.

Posted by Heather Osteen   |  0 Comment(s)  |  Leave a Comment

Preparing for the Holidays: Holiday Gifting Prep Tips
November 10th, 2014

Re-posted from http://wotv4women.com/2014/10/24/easy-tips-for-smart-holiday-shopping/

Step 1 – Know Where You Stand Financially

  • Review your overall budget
  • Review last year’s holiday spending
  • Develop a list of all possible expenses
    • Include friends, family, co-workers, teacher’s gifts, special meals and parties, decor

Step 2 – Set a Reasonable Holiday Budget

  • Talk to your spouse, friends and family first
  • Discuss spending early and honestly
  • Include those you exchange big gifts with
  • Don’t compromise your savings plan or living expenses for holiday spending

Step 3 – Get Creative and Have Fun!

  • Become a digital coupon clipper
    • Before you leave the house or check out your online shopping cart, visit sites likeRetailMeNot.com and Coupons.com for the latest promotional codes for extra savings.
  • Comparison shop online: download Amazon.com Price Check App
  • Plan for Cyber Monday: December 1
  • Big gifts don’t have to have big price tags
    • Cook a meal for a family member or good friend, or send a box of your special holiday cookies or a beautiful calendar of photos of the family. If you want to give a gift that is truly meaningful, don’t just give them something they could easily get from a store.
  • Involve your kids!
    • Come up with some events or activities you can do together. Put tickets to a movie, or pamphlets from a museum, or pictures of an entertainment event in a fancy box under the tree.

More Tips

  • Check your overdraft protection and credit card balances. Make sure you have enough funds in your checking, savings or money market account so you don’t overdraft and incur unnecessary fees. These can really add up. Linking your savings account or a line of credit as overdraft protection can help you avoid costly fees in case of an overdraft.
  • Keep receipts and monitor your true spending. Get an envelope and maintain all receipts, stick a note pad and pen in there and keep track of truly what you’re spending this year!
  • Monitor your account activity regularly. Fraudulent activity is on the rise. Review all credit card and checking transaction activity on your account weekly, and review your credit report. It’s completely free at www.annualcreditreport.com. You’re allowed to check each of the major credit bureau reporting (Equifax, Experian and Trans Union) annually at no charge.
  • Plan for next year. Once you know a reasonable amount to spend this year and then by actually reviewing receipts to know what you’ve actually spent, divide that amount by the number of pay periods in a yea and set up a special account at your credit union to begin regularly depositing electronically for next year.
  • Give yourself a quick financial review online at www.mymoneycheckup.org, a free online assessment tool from the National foundation for Credit Counseling. You’ll answer questions about your budget, savings, home expenses and retirement to help you know where you stand.

Posted by Heather Osteen   |  0 Comment(s)  |  Leave a Comment

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