Get Smart About Money

Tax Day has come and gone but it’s not too late to get a handle on your finances. AP research found that 4 out of 5 Americans face financial insecurity at some point during their lives. That means 80% of us worry about losing a job or living on significantly lower income.

Here’s a list of the top four money problems we face.

  1. Not Having a Budget
    Over half of Americans don’t have a budget and 20% admit to not knowing how much they spend on housing, food and entertainment. If this sounds familiar, now’s the time to budget. To get started, work off the 50/20/30 rule. In other words, no more than 50% of your take-home pay  should go to essentials (rent, utilities, transportation, groceries), at least 20% should go to financial priorities (emergency fund, retirement, debt payment), and no more than 30% should go to lifestyle choices (eating out, shopping, travel, etc.)
  2. Forgetting to Save
    About 40% of adults say they are saving less than last year, and nearly the same number say they don’t have any savings, other than retirement, whatsoever. It’s important to put money aside for large purchases (like a house or vacation) or an emergency (like a car accident or illness). Ideally, your savings should cover at least six months of living expenses. And while we’re on the subject, it’s never too early to start saving for retirement.
  3. Overspending
    Over 25% of adults report they are spending more this year. But more importantly, are you spending responsibly? For many of us, we spend money based on emotion and without much thought. This is where that budget comes in handy.
  4. Mishandling Credit
    Almost 50% of Americans have credit card debt and the average household owes $15,611. Most often people don’t understand their credit scores or view their credit report. Websites, like Credit Karma, allow you to view your credit score for free. A credit score of 650 is considered healthy; anything over 700 is impressive. And regular review of your credit report could help prevent identity theft.

Want to learn more? Check out all of the free financial clinics @ Your Library and get smart about money.

Understanding Home Mortgages
April 20, 6 PM at Batesburg-Leesville Branch Library

Understanding Credit
April 20, 6 PM at Chapin Branch Library

Planning for Retirement
April 21, 6 PM, at Lexington Main Library
April 21, 7 PM at Irmo Branch Library

Avoiding Online Scams
April 21, 6:30 PM at Cayce-West Columbia Branch Library

Managing Your Money Online
April 23, 5 PM at South Congaree-Pine Ridge Branch Library