7 ways to take control of your finances - Omaha.com
Published Saturday, December 29, 2012 at 1:00 am / Updated at 3:39 pm
7 ways to take control of your finances

Financial planner and author Rick Rodgers of Lancaster, Pa., suggests seven steps for keeping your financial fitness resolution in 2013

Review your credit report

Borrowing money isn't the only reason. Employers check credit reports and so do insurance companies, affecting the amount you pay for auto and homeowners insurance. Order your free credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com.

Set aside automatic savings

Set it up through your employer, bank or brokerage account. Simply have a certain amount of money withdrawn from your checking or savings account each month and deposited. That way, you save it before you have a chance to spend it. Try to increase the amount at least once a year.

Establish a cash flow plan

Take the time to forecast your income and expenses for the year, and put it in writing. Then adjust those numbers to reach your goals, such as paying down debt or replacing a car. Hold monthly family meetings to review the plan.

Pay off credit cards

It's especially important to take action on debt. Cash doesn't earn much interest sitting in a deposit account (usually less than 1 percent) and even “low interest” credit cards charge 10 percent to 12 percent. So consider using extra savings to pay down debt. Your cash flow plan should include a schedule to quickly eliminate credit card debt.

Shop your insurance

There is a huge incentive for a competing agent to find you the lowest premium. Make note of the coverage levels you have for your homeowners and auto policies and use them to comparison shop. Look at ways to save on your health insurance coverage, too, such as switching to a high-deductible plan and opening a health savings account.

Write an estate plan

At a minimum, you need a valid will, powers of attorney (POA) for your finances and health-care decisions, and a living will (Advanced Healthcare Directive in some states). Decide on a representative if you become incapacitated (POA) or at your death (executor).

Meet with a financial adviser

Allow yourself to be held accountable by a third party who will push you to help yourself. Good advisers will help you develop a budget, look at your debts, tax situation, retirement and college savings, estate planning and insurance. You don't have to be a high net-worth individual. Go to the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors and search for one in your area.

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