How to Save Your Finances and Your Credit in 2009

by Linda Seamore

As we begin the New Year, the nation’s economy is crumbling. It is becoming apparent that protecting your finances is extremely important in addition to protecting your identity. To get you off on the right foot, we have listed several tips and suggestions to get your financial house in order.

1. Separate Needs from Wants. Financial security and independence relies heavily on being a smart spender. Don’t, for example, eat out when you can cook at home. Eating is a need but eating out is a want. Being thrifty is truly a necessity. Pay close attention to discounts for things you need, and clip coupons whenever possible.

2. Have 6 months of living expenses in Savings. Take account of your monthly bills, including groceries and gas, and save 6 months of these in a savings account for a rainy day. It’s very easy to save a little every month from your paycheck and put it into an account that may be difficult to get into. This will become your emergency fund and should only be touched in emergencies ( i.e. someone looses their job). If you must dig in, be sure to replace it immediately.

3. Begin paying off your debt. Start with the highest interest bearing loans, like personal loans and credit cards and begin paying them off. These you should take care of BEFORE you begin saving any money. The interest accrued on these loans can be staggering over time and will save you money in the long run if you pay them off first.

4. Protect your Identity. Identity theft has become the crime of choice in recent years. It costs victims on estimated 6 billion dollars a year to pay for identity theft. You can protect your money and your identity with a service like Life Lock. Life Lock is a service that guarantees protection of your credit backed by $1,000,000 to you if they don’t. They help to reduce the amount of credit card offers you receive and pro-actively monitor your credit.

5. To keep away the temptation to spend all your hard saved money, put money into CDs other financial securities that are harder to dip into. That way you won’t have easy access to spending the money, and will therefore be less likely to spend it.

6. Get on a budget and stay on it no matter what. This is really simple to do. Label some jars or boxes with things like “savings” “eating out” or “entertainment”. Every payday, put $50 in each jar. That will be your allowance for that category until the next payday. When ever the money from one of the jars is used, you simply move to the next jar until you reach the next payday and can replenish. This sounds tough but it can pay off, literally.

The current economic situation is not good. This is not big secret. As a result, we have to do what we must to protect ourselves from needing assistance, something some of the big companies should have done a long time ago. Don’t get in a bind in 2009. Follow a budget, look for sales and discounts and be a smart spender.

If you are careful with your money, you will not require a bailout in 2009. Hey, maybe we can become the example and teach the major corporation CEOs how to do this.

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