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Today's economic challenges make it is more important than ever for consumers to boost their financial literacy and work to pay off their debt.
Below we have listed 5 personal finance topics that create a solid foundation for personal financial literacy.
1. Use a budget.
You can write it down in a notebook, build a complex spreadsheet, or utilize one of the many online tools, but no matter what your strategy, remember that budgeting is the number one tool for financial success. Using a budget will help you meet your financial obligations, plan for future expenses, and even create new opportunities to save. All you need to do is track your expenses and avoid spending more than your budgeted amount. Keep your budget realistic and review it consistently.
2. Keep an eye on your credit report.
Verifying the accuracy of your credit report regularly can help you manage a healthy credit rating. By requesting a free copy of your credit report annually, you can stay on top of inaccuracies and take immediate action to correct any discrepancies.
3. Get out of debt.
Getting a handle on your debt can do more than lighten your monthly financial load. Managing or paying off your debt can allow you to plan a more productive financial future. Use the money saved on paying interest and fees to build your retirement, your emergency savings fund, and to plan and save for big ticket purchases.
4. Save, save, save.
If you do not currently have a committed savings plan you are missing out on a huge opportunity to create more financial stability. By building up your savings you can endure tough economic times without adding to your debt. Start small and create modest savings goals. The key is to begin saving as soon as possible and make the habit stick. One easy way to save is to set up automatic deposits from your paycheck into a savings account-you won't even miss it!
5. Select the right health plan coverage.
Medical bills are on the rise as a leading cause of people seeking debt help. Making sure you have the right kind of coverage is more important than ever, as medical and prescription costs continue to rise. If you receive healthcare benefits through your employer, be sure to speak with one of your human resource professionals about the coverage options available. Also, read up on the new Affordable Care Act to learn about changes stemming from this healthcare reform legislation that could lower your costs and make care more accessible. Lastly, reduce your personal care expenses and participate in your employer's health spending account plan, if available.
Once you have these topics under your belt, commit to never stop learning. New financial tools and topics are always emerging and there are endless opportunities to continue improving your financial fitness.