Money Rules: Simple Steps to Building a Better Financial Future:
(ARA) - With the recent volatility in the stock market, consumers are left wondering how to safeguard their money. While there is no magic formula that can ensure a bright financial future, individuals need to understand their finances in order to control them.
Recent studies indicate that most Americans could stand to improve their financial skills. In one such test of financial knowledge, adults scored 57 percent on average and high school students scored 51 percent.
Seeking to help consumers in this regard, America's Community Bankers has introduced a program called Money Rules, aimed at helping individuals become more savvy about finances. The program deals with issues such as credit, savings and emergency planning.
"Understanding the rules of money is important when it comes to achieving such goals as obtaining a home, an education, a car or a secure retirement. We want to help consumers better understand how to budget, save, invest, borrow and spend wisely to achieve their financial goals," says Diane M. Casey, president and CEO, America's Community Bankers.
Credit cards are just like a loan -- you have to pay what you owe plus interest. In addition, credit cards carry a higher interest rate than car, home equity and mortgage loans. When shopping for a credit card, you should evaluate all fees, as well as both the introductory and regular interest rate.
Remember that if you only make minimum payments on your credit card, you may never pay off the debt. Try setting up a payment calendar and work toward paying off your balance. If you mail your bills, you should do this at least five business days before they are due; this will help you avoid expensive -- and unnecessary -- late fees and other charges.
Saving for Retirement and Emergencies
Ideally, you should be saving some percentage of your annual income for retirement. Many financial professionals advise saving 5 percent of your income, but no amount of savings is too small and it's never too late to begin. In many cases, it will take 80 percent of your pre-retirement income to maintain your current lifestyle during retirement.
You should also have a minimum of three months in income set aside to carry you through such emergencies as illness or job loss. Experts recommend emergency funds not be kept in stocks, but rather in regular savings accounts, money market funds and certificates of deposit.
A checking account with your local community bank may help you save money by avoiding costly check cashing fees, and also by making it easier for you to itemize and budget. Checking accounts at your local community bank also offer the convenience and security of direct deposits, as well as FDIC insurance.
For more information, or for answers to specific financial questions, contact your local community banker, or visit America's Community Bankers Web site at www.americascommunitybankers.com.
Courtesy of ARA Content