Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Bail out your own butt

Little of the first draft of President Obama's $800 billion bailout addresses homeowners' financial woes. Prepare to bailout your own butt.

by Broderick Perkins
© 2008 DeadlineNews.Com
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Deadline Newsroom - You can wait for housing, household and personal financial relief from Washington, your state capital, city government, and other sources, but you can also own your own home economics.

"Many consumers have been renting their lifestyle by living off of credit, and it's time they took ownership," said Gail Cunningham, tough financial love spokesperson for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) .

"For some people, their financial situation has gotten so bad that they feel like even the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off. But there is an answer, and it lies in going back to the basics. Resuming control over finances should be at the top of everyone's resolutions for 2009," she added.

Cunningham and the NFCC recommends these four essential steps to building a new level of financial stability:

Show yourself the money. Know where your money goes. An NFCC Financial Literacy Survey found that nearly 40 million adults keep little or no track of where their hard-earned money goes. It's a no-brainer. If you don't know where your money goes, you can't stop it from going there. Write down every cent you spend for 30 days and you'll be surprised at the spending habits you can curtail to save quite a few bucks and build a budget.

Build a budget. Once you know where your money goes, you can then categorize it starting with living expenses, followed by debts. If you discover you've got more month than money, you now know why and can take steps necessary to resolve the deficit. Reconciling your income and expenses may be an easier-said-than-done task, especially if you've been living beyond your means, recently lost a job or both. But here's where you discover the drastic changes that may be necessary for future financial fixes that will secure your future.

Debt is not your friend. Don't add new debt to old. Freeze charging and unnecessary spending. Food, clothing and shelter is all you truly need. Pay down debt and live within your means.

Embrace saving. Too many consumers who don't have a rainy day fund have discovered they can't even afford an umbrellas. Send 10 percent of each paycheck into savings via an automatic deposit. With an automatic savings "bill" you won't miss the money and at the end of one year you'll have a little over one month's income socked away for emergencies. Contribute to your company's retirement plan.

"Consumers have allowed their finances to operate on automatic pilot for too long. They are now eager to move back into the driver's seat and get their financial well-being on course. The good news is that this is entirely possible, but it all starts with the basics. Implementing the above four elements will lay the foundation upon which consumers can build their financial future, and now is the time to start," says Cunningham.

Don't be afraid to ask for help. Credit counseling, homeownership counseling, home economics and financial planning education should be part of your lifestyle.

Just ask those who are managing to weather the current economic storm.

Get specific saving tips from the Frugal Living Examiner.

More help here:
Financial Planning

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Broderick Perkins, an award-winning consumer journalist, parlayed 30 years of old-school journalism into a digital real estate news service, the San Jose, CA-based DeadlineNews Group -- DeadlineNews.Com, a real estate news and consulting service and Web site and the Deadline Newsroom, DeadlineNews.Com's news back shop. Perkins is also a National Real Estate Examiner. All the news that really hits home from three locations -- that's location, location, location!

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