While 40% to 50% of us make New Years resolutions on January 1a ritual that has existed since ancient timesapproximately 60% to 80% of us have already broken them by the end of February, according to researchers.
Its still not too late, however, to reset the trajectory on your familys finances, experts note.
1. Build a Budget
If you havent already done so, create a realistic budget.
Approximately 85% of your income should be set aside for necessities like housing, food, health care and clothing, according to the professionals at VISA USA.
This leaves 15% for entertainmentand something many consumers completely neglect: savings.
2. Distinguish Needs from Wants
Make sure you have a clear understanding of what you need in life versus what you want in life.
You need to pay for the antibiotics when the doctor diagnoses a respiratory infection. You dont need to buy the latest movie released on DVD to aid in your recovery.
You need to pay the rent or mortgage. You dont need to buy the lovely accent pillows that beckon to you from the interior design boutique.
Always separate the needs from the wantsparticularly if money is tight.
3. Monitor Your Spending
To see what you really spend each month, keep a running log of all purchasesno matter how smallfor a full month. This will give you a visual display of where your money goes after you deposit your paycheck.
You may find that the $3 cup of coffee that starts each day adds up to $90 a montha pocketbook pincher that may prompt you to buy a pound of coffee beans at the local market and grind them yourself. That $90 blossoms into $1,080 in savings at the end of a year.
4. Create an Emergency Fund
Life is full of surprisesboth positive and negative. If you happen to lose your job or suffer an illness that temporarily sidelines you, you will need cash reserves to support you during the rough months.
In most cases, consumers who find themselves dealing with a financial hardship are unprepared and have not saved for unexpected situations, says Diane Giarratano, director of education for Novadebt, a U.S. financial management service agency, with multiple locations, that provides credit counseling, budgeting and financial education.
5. Educate Yourself
When you attended high school or college, you studied history, mathematics, language and science, but there was probably no course in basic money management.
If you need help in meeting a financial goalwhether its buying a home or reducing your debttake advantage of community resources.
Consumers should feel free to contact a good credit-counseling agency to obtain free advice with regard to establishing a budget or to learn how to handle unexpected hardships, Giarratano says.
6. Dont Become a Victim
Identity theft has become an international epidemic, so be extremely cautious when giving out your credit card or personal identifying information. Monitor your credit card bills carefully for unauthorized charges, and immediately report suspicious activity to the issuing company.
Identity theft is often an inside job, warns Robert L. Siciliano, a personal security expert with Boston, Massachusetts-based SafetyMinute Seminars and author of The Safety Minute.
Lower-level help desk workers and frontline call center employees often have access to all our personal information in their databases, he says. What are you doing to protect yourself? If youre not paying attention, you could be a victim, too.
And when a disaster strikes, such as the recent killer tsunamis in South Asia and East Africa, be wary of scammers from fake charities before reaching for your checkbook. Unfortunately, there will always be unscrupulous individuals who seize such opportunities to profit from others misfortune.
Avoid using your credit card to make contributions, advises James Walsh, author of You Cant Cheat An Honest Man: How Ponzi Schemes and Pyramid Frauds Workand Why Theyre More Common Than Ever.
Even though this can be a convenient way to proceed, many crooks are looking for credit card numbers, Walsh says. They will press strongly for immediate support. Dont rush.
Instead, initiate the call yourself, and select a reputable charity.
Go with recognized names, Walsh says. No organization is perfect; even the best-meaning groups occasionally misallocate money or fall victim to abusive employees. But larger charitable groupslike the Red Cross, the United Way and Catholic Charitieshave the mechanisms in place to audit their people and performance.
Charitable contributions are tax-deductible, so keep good records of all donationsincluding small cash gifts.
Fox Symes assists all Australians discover the truth about their debts and how they can rapidly reduce them. There are methods available to the Australian public and you can discover how to use these to assist you in reducing your debt with a free phone consultation from Fox Symes. Visit http://www.foxsymes.com.au or contact them directly on 1300 361 204.
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