While most Americans associate April with the beginning of spring, the entire month is also dedicated to financial education. Spring cleaning usually consists of scouring every nook and cranny of the home, but our finances deserve a thorough scrubbing as well. If you’re not a personal finance junkie, diving into your financials can be intimidating. Still, you don’t want to ignore them for years and then discover you’re in trouble.
My wife and I once tried wearing cat and dog masks to talk about money. Our previous attempt to make a budget ended in shouts and pointed fingers, and I thought this might help tame our hair-trigger emotions.
Instead, it sparked another disagreement over spending. “I was thinking something more Cirque du Soleil,” she said through the rubber cat mask I bought her. “I feel like we’re about to rob a bank.”
Before the Great Recession, homeowners weren’t shy about opening and utilizing home equity loans and lines of credit. After all, home values were through the roof, and many saw the benefits of tapping into their equity to consolidate debt and pay for big purchases, like cars and college educations.
Before you tackle lofty financial resolutions like paying off debt this year, do yourself a quick favor and freeze your credit reports. It’s free, doesn’t affect your credit score and helps protect your financial future.
Credit reports summarize your payment history with creditors and are automatically generated by the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Freezing them prevents fraudsters from opening a new line of credit using your personal information.
When you have a pile of bills and no paycheck, address the essentials first. That means the roof over your head, medicine, food, heat, electricity and — for those who still must report to jobs despite a government shutdown — getting to work.
A mere eight percent of people actually achieve their New Year’s resolutions. Ouch! So often, we set good intentions and get hyped for great things to come, but we lose steam–often in just a few weeks.
Among the many popular resolutions set each year, squaring up finances and making more money always top the charts. So, if you’re looking to get rich this year, what can you do to succeed? Outside of winning the lotto, financial success comes down to doing the basics well.
If glitzy ads and the scent of evergreens entice you to choose debt when you mean to choose joy, your holiday may already be haunted by the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.
Twenty-eight percent of shoppers who used credit cards to pay for last year’s holidays are still paying for them. Think about how long you’re willing to pay for a moment of delight before whipping out the plastic.