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Bad times, good deals

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 30, 2009

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