'Most people need to take five common sense steps
to improve their finances in order to avoid costly mistakes and even
greater debt accumulation' says the nonprofit Institute of Consumer
Financial Education (ICFE), a San Diego based group helping consumers
become better spenders, regular savers and wise users of credit.
'Because more Americans are paying off short term credit card debt
than ever before, developing new money management skills is an
essential part of the process of debt elimination,' said ICFE
executive director, Paul S. Richard, a registered financial consultant
'Developing financial self-discipline is the consumers' best defense,
even in a soft economy, to avoid compounding past mistakes and
improving finances in 2003' says Richard. Here are five steps to take:
1. Keep your financial know-how current in order to be in a position
to make intelligent spending and other financial decisions. Being
aware of changes in the tax laws, investment returns, etc. helps one
avoid becoming overconfident and unprepared.
2. Project your income and expenses for the next twelve months and
then track the variances. Developing a spending-plan, a/k/a budget,
promotes better spending decisions. Spend money thinking of your
future as well as your present. You have an obligation to be as good
to the person you are going to be in 20, 30 or 40 years from now as
you are to yourself today.
3. When investing, focus on the relationship between the risk and the
projected return of your investments. Many investors overlook the
possibility of not getting their basic investment back because they
are focusing on early, high-end returns. Have a plan and a purpose for
your investing. Focus on making good decisions rather than beating out
a real or an imagined opponent in the stock market or in real estate.
4. Maintain well organized records for income tax and general
financial planning purposes. This is often as easy as having twelve
envelopes, one for each month, and placing all pertinent financial
statements, receipts etc. into an envelope monthly and then placing
the monthly envelopes in a larger, yearly envelope.
5. Manage your money so expenses stay below income. Everyday spending
decisions, especially credit based one, will have a far greater
negative effect on one's financial future than any investment decision
one is likely to ever make. Household and grocery items take up about
30 cents of every take-home dollar. Using coupons and taking advantage
of rebates is a way to make and immediate, positive impact on your
The ICFE's Web site at http://www.financial-education-icfe.org has many helpful spending
tips and worksheets for setting up a one-page spending plan and much,
To receive the same information by mail, please send $1 and a
self-addressed, 60 cent stamped envelope to:
PO Box 34070
San Diego, CA 92163.
About the ICFE:
The Institute of Consumer Financial Education (ICFE) was founded in 1982 by
the late Loren Dunton (creator of the Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
designation and founder of the College for Financial Planning in Denver, CO.)
The ICFE is dedicated to helping consumers of all ages to improve their spending
practices, increase savings and use credit more wisely.
The ICFE is an
award winning, nonprofit, consumer education organization that has helped
millions of people through its financial continuing education courses programs
and resources. In addition to eight Certification courses covering identity
theft, credit files, credit repair and credit scoring, among others, it also
publishes the Do-It-Yourself Credit File correction Guide, which is updated
annually. The ICFE has distributed over one million Credit/Debit Card Warning
Labels and Credit/Debit Card Sleeves world wide.
The ICFE is a partner
with the national Jump$tart Coalition for Financial Literacy and the California
Jump$tart chapter. The ICFE staff is also active with San Diego Saves and
Military Saves, both offshoots of America Saves.
The ICFE is also an
on-line help for consumers who spend too much. ICFE's spending help was featured
in PARADE Magazine in the Intelligence Report section. The money helps and tips
are from the ICFE's Money Instruction Book, our course in personal finance.
The ICFE helps consumers and students with mending spending, learning about
the proper use of credit, budget and expense guidelines, how to set up and
implement a spending-plan and also how to access financial education courses and
how to teach children about money. Other ICFE services include: Ask Mr. G
library, a free eNews service, and an online resource center for students,
parents and educators, plus financial education learning tools in the ICFE Book