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Back-to-School Strategies for Staying Out of Debt

Will Changes in Credit Reporting Affect You?

What to do if your medical bills are turned over to collections

What to do if your spouse can't pay his or her bills

What to do when a family member ruins your credit

Homeownership is possible

What you need to know about the IRS and collection agencies

Will being turned down for a store credit card hurt my credit?

Beware of credit repair

Debt Management versus Debt Settlement

How to get ahead of late fees

Is There a Service That Helps You Not Pay Bills

Is a Debt Owed

Patience is the key to furnishing a new home

How to split expenses with your partner

Will my boyfriend's bad credit affect me?

Tax filing options to consider

What to do if your account is turned over to collections

Celebrating Valentine's Day on a budget

Personal Credit and Starting a Business

Finding Money to Reduce Your Debt and Improve Your Credit

Simple Keys to Personal Finance

Be vigilant to avoid telephone and internet scams

Debt Settlement

Understanding credit utilization

Setting New Year's goals that you can keep

The pros and cons of skipping a payment

Strategies for Financially Surviving the Holidays

Creating a fun and memorable holiday on a budget

Keep an open line of communication with parents about their finances.

Make a Choice to Get Ahead Financially

What to do when a relative asks you for money

Should You Buy a Home Now or Wait?

The difference between debt settlement and debt management

Tax Refund Delays for some in 2017

The negative impact of paying a payment 30 days late

Stressed by Finances

How to navigate two significant financial decisions: starting a family and buying a home

How to advise someone close to you who is coming into a significant amount of money

Make a Conscious Decision on How to Spend Your Money

Tips for Back-to-School Shopping

How do you know if you have a good credit score?

Americans spend more money eating out than on groceries

Having Good Credit Saves You Money

Developing good money habits with your first job

How to save for a home

How to Know if you are Ready for Home Ownership

When is the right time to buy a home?

You can improve your credit to buy a home

Plan a Memorable Vacation Without Incurring Debt

The Hidden Costs of Payday Loans

Be Wary of Credit Repair Services

Use Caution when playing the credit card game

What does it mean to say bankruptcy gives you a clean slate?

How your credit is affected by various debt options

Be wary of predatory small business loans

What to do if you fall behind on mortgage payments

Financing a College Education

Money, Credit and Relationships

Should you be concerned with your date's credit scores?

Best options for a small, short-term loan

How to help a relative who is always borrowing money from you

Setting New Year's goals that you can keep

Making the holidays memorable for families on a tight budget.

Skipping a Payment over the Holidays

What to do if you are overwhelmed by medical bills

Make your financial intention a financial goal you can achieve

Should Consumers Use the New EMV Cards?

What to do when a collector calls you

The difference between paying bills and managing your money

My wife and I have gone through some tough financial times, which eventually led us to file for bankruptcy.  Following this experience, I don’t ever want to use credit again, but my wife

What do I need to know to pay ahead on my mortgage?

What to do if you get an unsolicited credit card in the mail

What to do when moving in to share expenses doesn't work out

Developing good money habits with your first job

Q. I recently graduated from college and have found a job in my field. However, my finances are much tighter than I expected.  I know I should put money in a retirement account, and I know I should save.  But I’m not sure how I can.  I really thought my money would go a lot further.   Any suggestions?

A.Congratulations on graduating and finding a job in your respective field.  You are wise to be thinking about your future and looking at ways to save for it. In my experience, one the greatest regrets people have as they age is that they wish they had saved more money and that they had started the process of saving earlier in their lives.

Awareness is important, but now is the time to move beyond awareness and put good habits in place that will benefit you for a lifetime. People who start saving early in life are far better than those who wait 10 or 20 years and then try to play catch up.

One of the best habits you can develop is to have a personal budget.  Don’t let the word scare you.  A budget will show you where your money is going, and if the end result isn’t what you want, then you can modify your spending.  A budget is merely a plan to get you what you want.  If you don’t have a budget, then it can be challenging to reach your goals.  

It’s natural that your budget will be tight right out of college. But if you’re serious about saving, you have to have the right mindset.  Start by cutting out miscellaneous expenses that bring little value to your life.  This doesn’t mean you need to cut out all miscellaneous expenses, though.  In order for a budget to work, it needs to include some fun, just not so much that you have no money left for anything else.

In addition to a budget, you should take advantage of easy ways to save. If your employer offers a 401K, for instance, you can sock away money without being taxed on it. Some employers will match your contribution up to a certain percentage, which can make saving even easier.  Don’t wait until you can set aside large amounts; start small and increase your contributions as you can.

An automatic payroll deduction can make it easy to save, too. Can you put $20 per paycheck into a savings account?  You’re more likely to guard your savings if you can’t easily access it, so make it a point of putting money into a savings account, rather than leaving it in checking.   

If you get a raise after a probationary period, don’t spend this money.   Put it into a savings account instead.  Too many people increase their cost of living as their income goes up. It’s much easier to get ahead if you learn to live on less than you make. This financial habit will bring you a tremendous return in the future. 

If you need help with budgeting, you can buy affordable budgeting software.  You can also contact a non-profit credit counseling agency to get help developing a budget for you at no charge.

Bonnie Spain is the executive director of the American Center for Credit Education and Consumer Credit Counseling Service of the Black Hills. For more information, email acce@acce-online.com.

The material in this transmission is provided for personal, non-commercial, educational, and informational purposes only. ACCE makes no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this transmission and assumes no responsibility for errors, inaccuracies, omissions, or any inconsistency herein. You should consult a professional where appropriate.