Resolved to make 2010 a better financial year than 2009? If so, the top 10 tips from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling might be of help:
1. Create a rainy-day fund — Make sure you have adequate funds for emergencies, such as a job loss.
2. Track your spending — This will help you identify and rein in overspending.
3. Create a budget — A budget enables you to be in charge of your money - not the other way around.
4. Get your credit report — Visit www.annualcreditreport. com to get a free copy of your report from the three credit-reporting agencies.
5. Improve your credit score — Pay bills on time and don’t use more than 30 percent of your available credit.
6. Pay down debt — Learn to live below your means to pay down debt.
7. Set goals — Set short-term and long-term financial goals.
8. Plan for retirement — Even when money is tight, try to make small contributions to retirement plans.
9. Involve your family — Discuss everything from bills to the budget with all family members. It can be a good teaching moment for children.
10. Reach out for help — Contact credit counseling agencies at the first sign of trouble.
For more information, contact the National Foundation for Credit Counseling at www.nfcc.org or 800/388-2227, or visit www.DebtAdvice.org.
— Gabriella Boston