National Financial Capability Month raises awareness about the importance of financial literacy education and can help you plan a secure financial future. Financial literacy is key to understanding how to save, earn, borrow, invest, and protect your money wisely. It is also essential to developing short and long term financial habits and skills which can lead to greater financial well-being.
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.
- Be strategic when paying 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 apply that payment amount to the next smallest balance and continue the process until all debts are satisfied. This method can be 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.
- Be prepared for emergencies or disasters. Complete the free Emergency Financial First Aid Kit to help organize your critical financial, medical, and household information. If a disaster or other emergency strikes, you may only have seconds or minutes to react. In those critical moments, your focus will be on your family’s safety. Once the immediate danger has passed, having your homeowners, renters, or flood insurance policy, bank account information, and other records and contacts in one secure location will help you recover faster.
Your Employee Assistance Program Can Help! Managing your finances alone can be complicated. Working with a financial professional can help guide you in the right direction. Your Component Employee Assistance Program (EAP) offers financial consultations for a wide variety of financial concerns. You can also visit the Financial Resources page for resources and tools to help improve your financial literacy and wellness. For more information, contact your Component EAP or send an email to email@example.com.