5 Powerful Finance Tools

Posted by on July 9, 2014 at 9:55 AM

List All of Your Debts


There are not too many consumers who start college with no debt. Americans' college costs make it necessary for many students and their families to borrow money. It is wise to begin keeping a record of all debt owed, payments made and balances outstanding. This is sound money management, and it also helps you keep focused on where you are, financially, in regards to your values and goals.

Listing debt is relatively simple. Items that should or might be noted for each debt are: *

■Name of credit grantor/lender or collection agency

■Telephone and fax numbers of credit grantor/lender or collection agency

■Address of credit grantor/lender or collection agency

■The name of a representative with whom you have established a relationship, if such exists

■Dates of all personal contacts (other than payments) with the credit grantor/lender or collection agency, who was spoken with, and a brief statement regarding the interaction

■The balance owed to each credit grantor

■The interest rate assigned to each debt

■The estimated payoff date

■Any other important and/or pertinent data that may be of interest at some future point in time

Total the debt and also total the monthly obligation for all debts, and keep this information in your Money Management file.

Set Up a Payday-to-Payday Spending Plan


You are now ready to establish a Payday Spending Plan(PDF).

Begin by listing all of your unique monthly expenses (which now should be adjusted based on your adjusted expenses on your Monthly Expense Form) on the Payday Spending Plan. Some categories typical for most consumers are already listed on this form to show you how this works.

Take your own Monthly Expense Form and your Debt Listing and complete the Payday Spending Plan with all of your own expenses and debts listed down the second left hand column. In the far left hand column, list the dates or timeframes that relate to that particular expense or debt payment (i.e.: 1st, 15th, 25th, weekly, monthly, etc).

Across the top of the form, list all of your payday dates for one month only. Under the payday dates in the "Received" line(s) enter your anticipated net income for those paydays. Now you can cross-reference the dates/timeframes that expenses and debts are due with your paydays as they come up. So, as you approach the 15th payday, for instance, you will look to the far left, select all expense/debt payments that will be made between the 15th and the next payday, and write the amount due to be paid in that space under the payday column.

Using the Payday Spending Plan, you can project out for a period of time and begin to see how you can make progress on debts, adjust for periodic expenses or expenses you were not anticipating at all, and also have a comprehensive quick look at your finances at any point in time.

Over the months, you will begin to build a great form of documentation for all of your financial activities that relate to personal spending and planning. Add one more step and you will virtually always feel very in control of YOUR MONEY.

When a bill arrives, write the amount of the payment due on your Payday Spending Plan and then place it in your Money Management file. You will have a quick and ready reference for amounts and dates due for bills rather than continually rummaging through a pile of envelopes and papers.

For expenses and bills for which you do not actually receive a bill, list or estimate those amounts approximately one month ahead of time and you will begin to know what to anticipate as you become intimately involved in the real flow of YOUR MONEY.

What if a totally unexpected expense comes up? Often a car repair or doctor bill can seem to throw you off completely. Never fear... you are now able to look ahead and anticipate the effect that paying for that expense by cash or credit will have on your Payday Spending Plan. As you become more accustomed to relying on this form, you will learn what risks you can and cannot take and still maintain the money flow that works effectively for you.

Good luck with this final step in YOUR MONEY planning! Reaching this step successfully and gaining confidence in using the Payday Spending Plan will make a huge difference in how you feel about YOUR MONEY!

Look at Your Credit Report


Residents of many states are eligible to receive two copies of their credit report from all three major credit reporting agencies every year.

Credit reporting agencies, or credit bureaus as they have been called, are simply repositories for information regarding your credit and how you pay your bills, as well as some additional personal and legal information.

Credit reporting agencies receive information about you, your debts, and your payment history from the various creditors with whom you have done business or who have extended credit to you. Some creditors may report to all three of the major agencies while some may choose to only report to one or two. Therefore, it is imperative that you keep abreast of what information is being reported about you to all three agencies.

Credit reporting agencies DO NOT make or dictate your credit or credit rating or any score that may be assigned to you. Your credit rating or credit score is purely and simply a documented record of your bill paying behavior over time which the credit reporting agencies keep together for the purpose of determining credit worthiness in the future.

There is a lot you can learn from looking at your credit report. If you would like to receive copies of all three credit reports, print the Credit Report Request Form (PDF) and send a copy to all three agencies listed, or call them and order it, or order it online.

Equifax Credit Information Services

PO Box 105496

Atlanta, GA 30348-5496

(770) 612-3200 (GA Residents) 800-997-2493

Establish Realistic Goals


Your values are the things in life that are most important to you. Your goals are the accomplishments or steps you must establish along the way to make your values become realities.

Goal setting is easy. Goal reaching is tough! Use this form(PDF) to sort your goals into three major categories, short-term, mid-term, and long-term.

■Short term - those goals you can accomplish within about a year

■Mid-term - those goals that can be accomplished in about five years.

Begin Saving Now


Now it is time to go to the bookstore, library, and Internet and do research on saving, investing, and wealth building. Also, be sure to sit down with your Human Resources representative at work and learn about how you can take advantage of all the financial opportunities offered to you there. At this point, the sky is the limit when it comes to YOUR MONEY!

Meanwhile, here are a few small - and effective - savings activities that you can begin today.

■Designate a special box, jar or container of some kind where you can keep all of your pocket change. Beginning today, DO NOT EVER spend pocket change that you receive in any transaction! You will be pleasantly surprised to find that you will be "saving" approximately $5 - 8 per week once you begin this simple habit. That adds up to $260 by the end of the year. Want to take a short trip? There you go!

■If you already save your pocket change, accept this challenge. Every time you break a bill larger than $1, place every remaining $1 bill in an envelope in a drawer somewhere out of your sight. Force yourself not to touch this money! It is just amazing how much you will save between your pocket change and these $1 bills over a month's time. If you already save all of your $1's, then the next challenge is to never again break anything smaller than a $10 bill. (In other words, save all your fives.)

Once you are saving in these "little" ways, you will have the itch to save and will be well on your way to investigating savings vehicles with more long-term impact such as those offered through your employer, the stock market, and other financial services.

The pure momentum and empowerment of understanding how money grows itself through compounding interest will motivate you even more to learn about and participate in long-term savings programs that will benefit you and your family for years to come!

All of these exercises and suggestions may seem cumbersome and like they would take forever to accomplish. Not so! Start today and you will be well on your way within a month.

If you need help or would like support as you navigate this process, contact any CCCS by visiting or contact your school's Financial Aid Office for assistance.

■Long-term - those goals that will take more than five years to accomplish.

List about five goals for each of the major categories. Be specific. Perhaps you would like to graduate from college within the next year, go to Hawaii within three years, get married and have a child within five years. Hopefully your goals will be directly tied to the values you determined to be important to you.

Keep your lists of goals along with your most important values cards. Adjust your goals based on those you reach and those you are still working on or determine to abandon or change. Now you have built some of the beginning basics of your resource management!

Congratulations! It's YOUR MONEY and you are well on your way to using it YOUR WAY!

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