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Take stock of fiscal health for National Financial Literacy Month

April is National Financial Literacy Month. No matter what your financial situation is, it is well worth your while to take some time to brush up on your financial skills. Being an informed and educated consumer can help you stay on top of your finances and can help you avoid troublesome financial traps like payday loans, overwhelming credit card debt or bankruptcy.

This month, all Floridians should make a point to review their finances and determine where they can make improvements.

Creating a budget

The first step to improving your financial health is creating a budget - and sticking to it. Your budget should account for all of your expenses, including big ones like rent and utilities and smaller ones like subscription fees and coffee money. In addition, be sure to set aside some money each month to build up an emergency savings account. After a few months, you'll have a good picture of where your money goes and how you can make improvements in your spending patterns.

If you already have a budget, use National Financial Literacy Month as an opportunity to review it and make sure it is still appropriate for your current situation.

Make your money work for you

April is also a good time to review your financial accounts to make sure they are working for you.

Review your bank statements to see what kind of fees you are paying. You may be surprised at how much it is costing you just to keep your money in the bank. If the fees are high, consider switching institutions. You may get a better deal at a smaller bank.

At the same time, look over your credit card statements and make a note of how much you are paying in fees and interest charges each month. Use your budget to work out a plan for paying down your balances and reduce your interest charges.

Take charge of your finances

These are just a few of the ways to take charge of your finances during National Financial Literacy Month. Even though it may seem like a chore, carving some time out of your schedule to focus on your financial health can have many long-term rewards.

Source: Consumer Affairs, "The basics of financial literacy," Mark Huffman, April 2, 2013.

Bankruptcy can provide a path to financial wellness for those struggling with unmanageable debt. Please visit our website to learn more.

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