(**Adapted from The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau)
We have been talking about the benefits of Spring for your physical and mental health, so why not talk about your financial health too?
Below are some tips from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to help you refresh your finances this Spring.
TIP 1: Review your credit report.
If you didn’t already know, you can request a free credit report. https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action Once you have copy of your credit report, you can review it and correct any errors. If something you see doesn’t look quite right, you can dispute it with the credit bureau. The CFPB checklist can help you know what to look for in your credit report. https://www.consumerfinance.gov/ask-cfpb/what-are-common-credit-report-errors-that-i-should-look-for-on-my-credit-report-en-313/
TIP 2: Address Debt.
f you’re facing a large debt or your payments are overdue, your first instinct may be to ignore the debt or hope it goes away. The reality is, ignoring it will likely only make things worse and lead to more stress down the line. There are a few strategies that can help you make payments that work for your current financial situation.
First, review your bills and make sure you understand what you owe. The CFPB has a bill tracker to help you stay on top of your payment due dates. https://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/201702_cfpb_bill-calendar-OaH.pdf
Second, contact your lender to see if alternative payment options are available. You may be able to change your due date so that a payment is due closer to when you receive your income.
Third, create a plan to pay off your debt. Advantage Credit Counseling Services https://www.advantageccs.org/ is a non-profit agency that provides consumer education around debt management, bankruptcy and how to manage your credit. They offer a debt management program as well as a credit report review service.
TIP 3: Review your Spending.
Have you ever looked at your credit card bill and wondered where all those charges came from? Or have you found yourself swiping your credit card for a purchase before you’ve had a chance to think about it?
Gain control over your credit card spending by taking a close look at your credit card purchases over the past couple months. If you’re looking to cut back, try breaking down necessary expenses vs. wants. Once you see how you’re spending, try creating a “rule to live by” to make sure you stay on track. These kinds of simple personal guidelines, such as using cash for smaller purchases, make it easier to stick to your goals over time.
And if f you don’t have a budget, now is as good a time as any to make one!
TIP 4: Save Automatically.
Look for ways to boost your savings automatically. For example, if you have a bank account and direct deposit, you may be able to arrange to automatically deposit some of your paycheck to a savings account every time you’re paid, instead of all of it going into a checking account. You can check with your employer to see if it’s possible to split your paycheck into two accounts. You may also be able to transfer some of the money in your checking account into a savings account. (You can check with your bank or credit union to see you can set up automatic transfers or withdrawals to go into a savings account.)
For other tips and information, you can visit the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau website at: https://www.consumerfinance.gov/