April is Financial Literacy Month, and a great time to get your personal finances on track. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
- Create a budget. The first step toward taking control of your financial life is to find out how much money you take in and how much you spend. Use our budget worksheet to get started.
- Pay yourself first. Consider using a payroll savings plan to automatically deposit a certain amount of money into your savings account each payday.
- Keep credit card use under control. Got a credit card? Remember, incidental purchases add up. Paying only the minimum amount due each month can result in finance charges that quickly make small purchases very costly. Your credit also can take a hit. If possible, pay your full balance every month.
- Protect your personal information. Reduce your risk of identity theft. Here’s how: Ask questions before sharing your personal information and know who you’re sharing the information with; store and dispose of your personal information securely; and maintain appropriate security on your computers and other electronic devices. While you’re at it, check out the warning signs that someone might be using your personal information.
- Order your credit report from annualcreditreport.com. Make sure the information is accurate, complete, and up-to-date before you apply for a mortgage or other loan, buy insurance, or apply for a job. If you find errors, dispute them.
- Learn about your options, and what to expect at the dealership, before you lease or finance a new or used vehicle.
- Comparison shop for home loans and mortgages. A mortgage is a product, just like a car, so the price and terms may be negotiable. You’ll want to compare all the costs involved in obtaining a mortgage. Shopping, comparing, and negotiating can save you thousands of dollars.
Please share our resources with friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors. And if you have a financial tip of your own, post it in our Comments section.
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