National non-profit gives consumers tips on how to create budgets and organize their financial lives as 2015 comes to a close.
Boston, MA – December 23, 2015
As 2015 comes to a close, many consumers are beginning to think about their financial goals for the upcoming year. Although 2016 is quickly approaching, it is still not too late to achieve those last minute end of the year financial resolutions. To help with this process, American Consumer Credit Counseling offers consumers the five money must-do’s before wrapping up 2015.
“With a new year comes the opportunity for consumers to either set new goals or recommit to old ones, especially when it comes to bettering their lives financially,” said Steve Trumble, President and CEO of American Consumer Credit Counseling, which is located in Newton, Mass. “Unfortunately, waiting until the last minute can often cause poor planning for the new year, which is why we have developed this set of tips.”
According to Fidelity’s 7th annual New Year Financial Resolutions Study, 72 percent of adults believe they will be better off financially in 2016 than they were in 2015. 37 percent of consumers are considering a financial resolution, up from 31 percent last year. The most popular resolution among respondents of that survey is the goal of saving more in 2016 (54 percent). Of the respondents that made financial resolutions in 2015, 45 percent were able to reduce their debt this year.
ACCC offers five things to do with your money before 2016:
- Check your credit – Every consumer is entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the credit reporting agencies. Mistakes happen and it is important to catch them before it is too late. Once you have received your free credit report, check for inaccurate information.
- Pay off what you can – Review your outstanding debts and try to get any and all credit cards paid off in 2015. There are two primary methods to pay off debt – Debt Avalanche or the Debt Snowball. With the avalanche method, it is suggested that consumers put more money towards the account with the highest interest rate, and then make minimum payments on other accounts. Once the debt has been paid in full, apply more funds to the next highest interest rate. The snowball method disregards interest rates and pays off debt with the smallest balance first.
- Research – With the New Year often comes new enrollment into employer benefits, such as retirement, wellness savings, and healthcare. If you have not enrolled in an employer sponsored 401K, you should do so. If you have already enrolled, look to see if there are ways to increase your contributions.
- Budget – The best way to get a clear look at your finances is to write it out on paper or a budgeting worksheet. Recognize your monthly income and expenses. Try breaking your expenses into categories to know exactly how much you are spending in each area, such as rent, groceries, cell phone bills, etc. Once you are able to identify your monthly spending, it is easy to detect areas in which you can cut back.
- Be proactive – Although this is often a challenging goal, starting an emergency fund is imperative. You never know when a financial disaster could strike and it is important to be as prepared as possible. Take a look at your budget and come up with a plan to save for at least six to nine months of expenses.
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
About American Consumer Credit Counseling
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, youth and money, 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 National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®) and 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.