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20 Steps to Financial Health: Achieving Lifelong Financial Fitness

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16. Securing your financial future  Piggy bank

You work hard for your money and your money should work hard for you. Investing is one way to potentially grow your net worth.
Prior to investing you should think about your tolerance of risk. We all want our money to grow big and fast, but how much risk are you willing to assume? Before you invest, do your research and comparison shopping.
If you have access to a financial planner that you can trust that is probably a good start. If not you should compare before signing on your future financial assets.
And whenever possible take advantage of employer-sponsored investment plans such as a 401k. These can help you prepare and secure your financial future.

17. Financial checkups

Achieving financial health doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and commitment and that is why a periodic check-in and make sure you are on track is beneficial. It’s easy to let things fall by the wayside once you have established a routine, but things change.
Plan on reviewing what you have put in place every 3 months. You do not need to spend a great deal of time, but a quick review can be quite helpful. If you experience a job promotion and your income has changed for the better, this is a great opportunity to check in and update your financial plan.

18. Understanding the cost of credit

It is important to carefully weigh your options before making a credit decision. When you sign or co-sign an application for credit, you are agreeing to all its terms. Moving forward, commit to understand everything that you are agreeing to. At the very least, compare the following terms before making a borrowing decision:

• Interest rate or APR - APR is the annual interest rate you will be charged on a loan or the unpaid balance of a credit card
• Length of the loan - as the length of the loan increases, the monthly payment will decrease, but the total interest charge will increase
• Finance charge - the total cost of the loan stated in dollars
• Credit limit - the maximum amount you borrow at any time
• Minimum monthly payment - the smallest payment your creditor will accept
• Grace period - number of days you have to pay your bill in full before interest is charged
• Over the limit and late fees - the amount you will be charged if you are late with a payment or go over your credit limit



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