NAFCU: National Association of Federal Credit Unions | NAFCU offers consumer finance tips for 2008
- Create a budget: Know how much money you bring home and how much you spend. If you don’t know how to make a budget, check with a credit union; many offer financial literacy classes.
- Vow to spend less than you make: If you are constantly overspending, you will never have enough money to save or invest.
- Start saving now: It pays to save for things like retirement, college and buying a house as early as possible. Dropping unnecessary services and avoiding ATM fees can also help; thousands of ATMs in credit unions’ networks are fee-free, while bank ATM fees have hit record highs.
- Review your credit record and financial statements regularly: Get a free copy of your credit report once a year at www.annualcreditreport.com. Scrutinize statements from your financial institution and credit-card companies regularly to guard against identity theft.
- Reduce your debt: Make a plan to reduce your balances. Plan to pay the highest-cost credit card first. Consolidating debt may also help, as can paying more than the minimum due each month.
- Plan ahead: This applies to everything from vacations to holiday shopping. Look for bargain airfares, start a vacation or holiday account. At many credit unions, you can open an account with as little as $5.
- Start an emergency fund: Unexpected events like an illness or an auto or appliance repair can require big money. Most financial advisors recommend saving three months’ expenses to fund these items.
- Make your money work for you: Credit unions offer competitive rates and great service in a broad range of products and services, including savings and checking; many offer online services. Visit the Credit Union Data section at www.ncua.gov to find one.
- Use credit cards smartly: Get a credit card with a low annual fee or with rewards that suit your interests, and pay on time. Consumer Reports recently found that credit unions offer some of the best credit card rates.
- Review all your financial documents: ID thieves can be anywhere, so shred financial documents and credit card offers before throwing them out. Review your insurance needs, and make a will.
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