Spring calls out for a new start: cleaning closets, opening windows for those warming breezes, putting away heavy clothes, and enjoying the new green of the season. Spring is also an excellent time to freshen up your financial life — after all, you’ve just reviewed last year’s records and filed your taxes.
But looking closely at your finances can be challenging. What do you need to know to take charge of your financial life? What does it mean to be “financially capable?”
Financial capability is about more than just money. It’s also about having the willingness, confidence, and opportunity to make good decisions about and take smart steps with your money. Having good information that you can trust helps.
These tips from MyMoney.gov and USAGov can help you make sense of your financial life and get started:
A good place to start is knowing where everything is and what you have. The financial toolkit (PDF, Download Adobe Reader) created by Ready.gov in partnership with Operation Hope helps you assemble your financial, household, and vital records. Getting those important papers together can help you get organized now, and feel confident that you have what you need later in the event of an emergency.
Another way to gain some control over your financial life is knowing where your money goes. Those little expenses can add up, so finding out where the money leaks are can help you free up some extra cash for important goals.
Plugging money leaks doesn’t always mean giving up the things you love, though. Start tracking your spending with a budgeting worksheet. And consider ideas from the USDA Extension site for free and low-cost ways to have fun with your family.
You’ll find it’s easier to get excited about taming your finances if you’ve got something to look forward to, so dream big and set some goals. Maybe your goals are simple — like saving for holiday gifts. But maybe your goals are more complicated.
If your goal is saving for your child’s education, some states will help match your savings through 529 Plans.
If your goal is securing a comfortable retirement, the worksheets in the Savings Fitness Guide (PDF, Download Adobe Reader), developed by the U.S. Department of Labor, can help. The guide is packed with practical advice to help you save, invest, and plan for retirement. And signing up for a free myRA retirement account is a fast and easy way to start saving.
Safeguard Your Savings
You’ve earned it, and worked hard to bank it, so protect your money. Check your credit report at least once a year (it’s free using the official site annualcreditreport.com) and learn how you can build a better credit score. Keep your financial life safe by protecting your identity and by learning how to avoid online phishing scams.
Get More Information
Build your financial capability with more free tips and tools from MyMoney.gov. You’ll find, games, financial calculators, and help with teaching your kids about money.