April is Financial Literacy Month – a month intended to raise awareness on planning for a secure financial future. It’s also a time to reflect on the state of your personal finances and explore opportunities to improve them one step at a time. Here are tips to help you assess your financial well-being and to better manage your finances.
- Review your credit reports. Your credit reports provide a snapshot of your financial situation. Reviewing your credit reports for accuracy can also help you identify errors or fraudulent activity. The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act gives every consumer the right to a free credit report every year from credit bureaus.
- Strategically pay down your debt. There are a variety of ways to pay down debt. One method is to concentrate on paying off the debt with the smallest balance first, while still making the required payments to all debts. After the balance is repaid, you can then apply that payment to the next smallest balance and continue the process until all debts are satisfied. This method can be very rewarding because you see progress quickly. Another method is to concentrate on repaying the debt with the highest interest rate. This will help save the most in interest charges over time. Regardless of the method you choose, be patient and persistent.
- Set a realistic budget. The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau’s spending tracker is a great way to see trends in your spending. As you begin to list out your spending, you may identify spending you can reduce. You can also fill out a cash-flow budget. This weekly tool helps you assess your income and expenses to ensure you have enough money to cover your bills and put aside money for a savings, emergency fund, or other things you want and need.
- Take advantage of free resources to increase your financial literacy. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s Money Smart financial education program and MyMoney.gov can help you enhance your financial skills through interactive games, podcasts, and game-based learning with separate tracks for adults and teenagers.
- Visit the DHS Employee Resources site. The Financial Resources page includes a variety of resources and tools for improving your financial literacy and wellness.
Your Employee Assistance Program Can Help
Managing your finances can be like putting together a puzzle. Working with a financial professional can help put all the pieces in place. Your Component Employee Assistance Program (EAP) offers financial consultations for a wide variety of financial concerns. For more information, contact your Component EAP or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org