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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

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Make a Conscious Decision on How to Spend Your Money

Tips for Back-to-School Shopping

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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

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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

Make a Choice to Get Ahead Financially

Q. My wife and I want to get ahead financially. What can we do to make headway, especially when day-to-day living is so challenging? 

A. Life is full of challenges, and just making a living takes a great deal of effort. Nevertheless, even when day- to-day living takes so much of your money and attention, you need to keep an eye on the future. In fact, I’d encourage you to start with the end in mind by determining what you want and then making a plan to get there. Goal planning works, regardless of how much money you make.

Start by taking an evening and discussing together what you two truly want. Do you want a home? A new car?  Do you want a different job? Do you want to get out of debt?  Do you want to stop living paycheck to paycheck?  Do you want to build a savings account?  Make a list of the things you want.

Next, choose four or five things that you agree are important to both of you. Never mind that these goals may seem far away at that at this point in your life. Deciding what you want is a simple step, but one too many people miss. If you don’t know what you want, it is easy to get frustrated with your money and your life. 

Even if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, you still make decisions every day with your money. When you fill up your car with gas, do you have a habit of buying a soda or coffee, too? Do you take an extra couple of minutes to make your lunch, or are you more apt to eat out?  Do you use of up the leftovers, or do you usually throw them out?  Do you volunteer to work the extra hour of overtime to increase your income?  Are you willing to rent a less expensive place so you can save more?

You might think reaching your goals takes sweeping change, but cutting back a little here and there is one of the most effective ways to move you closer to what you want. Put the small amounts money you would normally spend in a jar for your goals. As the money in the jar increases, move it into a saving account. 

Over the years, I have seen people accomplish amazing things on a limited income. The key to their success was that they knew what they wanted, and they were determined to get there. Every choice they made brought them closer to what they wanted. I’m sure they encountered setbacks, but they kept going. You can do the same.

In a few short weeks, the holiday season will be upon us. Don’t get distracted by all the things people around you are doing and buying.  Instead, focus on your own goals so that you can make choices that will move you closer to what you want.  Once you build momentum, you’ll be amazed by the power of setting of goals.

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.