New year a good time to examine your finances
Published: Monday, January 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, December 31, 2006 at 9:57 p.m.
The queasiness from too much partying may be rough today, but your stomach may really turn when the credit card statements and evidence of financial trouble start pouring in.
Money management experts say the start of a new year is an ideal time to try to come to terms with financial difficulties, and they have several key suggestions.
Judy Collins, education director of the Consumer Credit Counseling Service in Gainesville, said the lists help people understand how much money they will have left over every month to pay down debt or to spend on nonessential purchases.
Collins said it's important for people to track their spending.
"They have to have a budget. They have to do certain things to keep it on track, and tracking expenses is a good thing," Collins said.
The money saved may seem small, but it can add up over time if you save it rather than spend it on something else.
"You can put $5 to $6 in your pocket every day by bringing your lunch to work," said Brenda Williams of the Alachua County Cooperative Extension Service. "A lot of it is just awareness. A lot of people don't know where their money is going and if that is where they want it to go."
While it may be impossible to pay off the accounts at one time, develop a plan to pay them off gradually by setting aside money every month.
"We have options. We're making choices. So what are some of those choices we can do?" Williams said. "Yes, it may be a little inconvenient for a while, but that is a great way to get our expenses under control. Then we are in charge of the money, rather than the money in charge of us."
Bank savings accounts for emergencies or long-term, big-ticket items such as appliances are also recommended.
"Pay yourself first. I don't care if it's a dollar a paycheck - put it in that account," Collins said. "Put it in there and don't touch it. You are going to have to sacrifice."
Williams said the entire family should be involved, even children.
"They need to understand why certain decisions are being made. Then everybody can pull together," she said. "It's first attitude. Then awareness - what are the actual figures? Gather the information to make some good decisions. Then do some goals and planning."
Cindy Swirko can be reached at 374-5024 or email@example.com
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