JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Personal health always tops the list of New Year's resolutions, and a close second is financial health. With a new gym membership in our monthly budgets that serves as a reminder to exercise our fiscal fitness, as-well-as our physical fitness.
Financial experts say to follow three steps to get your finances in shape, not just in 2011, but for year's down the road. Nancy Anderson, Ph.D., a Capital Financial Analyst and professor at Mississippi College said that step one is to establish some savings.
"People are more conscious of that, especially in a difficult economic environment," Anderson said. "You need to save, you need to have a 'cash cushion'."
Anderson suggested not overwhelming yourself by building toward a realistic goal of $1,000. Once you have a cushion experts said it's time for financial exercise number two: retirement.
"You have to fool yourself, and so the greatest way to fool yourself is to set-up a bank draft," Anderson advised. "Before that money gets into your hot hands it is already saved somewhere, tucked away."
In addition to bank drafting you can also save through employer if they offer a 401k or they can automatically take money out of your paycheck and place it in a Credit Union account.
While savings and retirement are more about endurance, keeping up with your credit cards can sometimes feel like an all-out sprint. Anderson said consolidate your cards and cut down to one.
"You need one statement that slaps you in the face every single month, so you know, 'my goodness, that is how much I owe.'"
Just like we need organized classes to help us shed some pounds, there are financial classes designed to help our financial health. One such class is offered through Metro Jackson's Habitat for Humanity, according to HFH mortgage specialist Nicole Jenkins.
"It's common sense practical use," Jenkins said about the course. "What your grandmother used to tell you."
Jenkins has taken the lessons of fiscal responsibility icon Dave Ramsey and offers Financial Peace University through Habitat.
"Empowerment - having control over your money, not letting your money control you," Jenkins described. "You have to account for every penny that you make and in doing so you know where it's going and you can start allotting and saving."
The first eight-week FPU pilot program just wrapped-up, and another is scheduled in the spring. For information on participating in the upcoming program contact Jenkins at the Habitat office at (601) 353-6060, or check out their website: HabitatforJackson.org.
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