Lifestyle Trends & Tips

Help Your Finances Fall into Place – 5 Easy Personal Finance Tips

As summer comes to a bittersweet end, and kids are getting ready for ‘back to school’, it may be an opportune time to look at your finances and do some planning. Don’t wait until the end of the year, when you’re under pressure to pay off holiday debts and income taxes are looming – tackling the job now, when there is little time pressure, can pay you greater dividends. Here are five ideas you can take advantage of right away.

1) Start organizing for tax time.

According to the IRS, the average refund is more than $3,000 so far this year with nearly 45 million Americans who filed early collecting refunds.

That’s a great incentive to get your tax files in order ahead of time! At the simplest, you should have two “buckets” – one for tax-related items and one for non tax-related items. Better yet, create an easily accessible filing system for all your household receipts and paid bills, and commit to filing them at least once a week. TIP: Some people find it convenient to staple receipts to warranty information and product guides so that, should you ever need it, you have all the information on your stove or computer in one place.

2) Make a plan for holiday spending.

Experian reported that while average credit card debt was down by 4% last Holiday season compared to the year before, Americans still carried an average of $4,284 on credit card statements in the month of December 2010.  Talk about a big New Year’s financial hangover. How to avoid this?  Make a written plan for holiday spending and gift giving. Set limits for gifts for each person and start looking for bargains early. TIP: Leave your credit cards at home when you go shopping so you won’t be tempted to overspend.

3) Make a budget.

John Maxwell, an internationally recognized leadership expert, speaker and author says that “a budget is people telling their money what to do instead of wondering where it went.” Some people go through their checkbooks; others keep a notebook and record every purchase for several weeks. Then find places to cut back on nonproductive spending. TIP: Take some time to evaluate your spending and make a budget. If you already have a budget, this is a great time to see how you’re doing, before it’s too late to remediate.

4) Start educating your kids about money.

Back-to-school is the perfect time to amp up your kids’ money management smarts. David Koch, author of I’m Not Made of Money; A Parent’s Guide to Teaching Your Kids About Money , advises parents to go back to basics and start educating kids about money from the time they are young. Instead of doling out a weekly allowance or handing out money on an as-needed basis, he recommends a monthly budget. Sit

down with them, figure out how much they spend in an average month for necessities and entertainment (include clothing for older kids and teens) and give them this amount each month. Why not weekly? With a weekly allowance, if your child spends his entire allowance in a few days, he knows he only has to wait until the end of the week for more! TIP: Find out how to teach your kids about money at

money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/money101.

5) Meet with a financial professional at First County Bank.

Make an appointment today to sit down at your local branch and review your banking, investments, retirement planning and any other financial information.

TIP: Our knowledgeable advisors can help make sure you’re getting the maximum benefit from all your investments and other financial products.

 

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