National financial education nonprofit offers advice on how consumers can increase their financial savviness and feel secure about their financial future
Boston, MA – May 1, 2014
Leading financial education nonprofit American Consumer Credit Counseling announced the release of the organization’s financial savviness tips to help consumers become more knowledgeable consumers and develop better money management skills.
According to The National Foundation for Credit Counseling’s 2014 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey, a majority of Americans gave themselves an A or B when it came to grading their knowledge of personal finance. However, more than 60 percent of those respondents had not even reviewed their credit score in the past year. In addition, more than 60 percent of survey respondents admitted to not having a budget, and 16 percent stated that they worry about retiring without enough money set aside.
“While Americans report financial competence, many lack true financial savviness,” said Steve Trumble, President and CEO of American Consumer Credit Counseling. “Basic financial education includes knowing your credit score, reviewing your report and having control over a budget. Without these skills, true financial savviness cannot be achieved.”
When considering financial savviness, ACCC advises consumers to ask themselves the following:
- Am I saving for the future? Although saving can be difficult, it’s definitely a sign of financial maturity. Saving for short-term goals is not enough. Instead, you should be thinking longer-term – like saving for retirement.
- Can I improve my credit score? Make a goal to be able to obtain a loan without having to undertake a major cleaning of your finances. The first step is to bring your credit score into a desirable range. A good credit score is generally considered to be 720 or higher. Increase your credit score by never missing a payment and staying away from your maximum limit on credit cards. Improving your credit score will give you the ability to leverage credit to get lower interest rates on loans and let creditors know you are a savvy credit user.
- Do I have a realistic budget – and do I stick to it? Knowing how to strategize and use your finances wisely is at the core of financial savviness. Creating a sound budget to organize your bills and prioritize your expenditures is a great place to start. Go one step further and make sure you are spending your extra money wisely. For example, do research before making large purchases, always look for sales and absolutely avoid impulse buying.
- Am I maximizing my investments? Remember, investments take multiple forms – from buying a home to investing in stocks and having cash in a savings account. In fact, any account that gives you some return is an investment, including credit cards and checking accounts that offer cash back deals. Retirement accounts are also an investment and you should start one as soon as possible. In addition, always take advantage of matching retirement contributions offered through your employer.
- Do I have an emergency fund? Job loss, natural disasters, necessary home repairs – you never know when the unexpected might happen. That’s why it’s critical to have an emergency fund that includes, at the minimum, three months’ worth of living expenses. If you can swing six to nine months even better.
“With a little determination and education, most consumers can increase their financial savviness,” said Trumble. “From saving for the future to maximizing your investments, a shift in financial habits will serve you well in the long run. For consumers needing a little extra help or advice, I always suggest seeking the assistance of experienced professionals.”
ACCC’s certified and experienced counselors offer a variety of financial education, counseling, and debt management services to help consumers achieve long-term financial health and stability. These financial education programs enable consumers to better understand and manage their finances.
ACCC is a 501(c)3 organization, that provides free credit counseling, bankruptcy counseling, and housing counseling to consumers nationwide in need of financial literacy education and money management. For more information, contact ACCC:
- For credit counseling, call 800-769-3571
- For bankruptcy counseling. call 866-826-6924
- For housing counseling, call 866-826-7180
- Or visit us online at ConsumerCredit.com
American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) is a nonprofit credit counseling 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to empowering consumers to achieve financial management and debt relief through education, credit counseling, and debt management solutions. In order to help consumers reach their goal of debt relief, ACCC provides a range of free consumer personal finance resources on a variety of topics including budgeting, credit and debt management, student loans, homeownership, identity theft, senior living and retirement. Consumers can use ACCC’s worksheets, videos, calculators, and blog articles to make the best possible decisions regarding their financial future. ACCC holds an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and is a member of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies. For more information or to access free financial education resources, log on to ConsumerCredit.com or visit TalkingCentsBlog.com.