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Love and Debt: Why you need to talk about money

How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Where to go for mortgage and debt help

What You Should Know About Debt Settlement

Create a plan to deal with medical debt

Options for Higher Education

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?

What to do if your account is turned over to collections

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

The pros and cons of skipping a payment

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

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

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

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

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

Simple Keys to Personal Finance

Q. I want to improve my finances in the year ahead, but it seems like an overwhelming task.  What guidelines or key rules should I follow in 2017 if I want to take control of my money?

A. The key to personal finance is not complicated.  In fact, it’s simple, though it isn’t necessarily easy to follow. Simply put: you must spend less than you make.

No matter your income level, if you spend everything you make, you will never ahead.  On the other hand, if you can learn to live on less than you earn and put the extra in savings, then you can get control of your finances. 

Too often, people believe that if they can’t sock away a large sum of money each month, then it isn’t worth their time or energy to save anything.  Believing this will keep you stuck. Saving any amount, no matter how small, absolutely makes a difference.  Dollar by dollar, your savings will add up over time. As you watch your savings grow, you’ll feel empowered and will start looking for additional ways to build your savings account.

What’s more, you’ll be able to use your savings to get what you want, spending your money on what’s important to you. This can take vision, since it’s easy to get swept along with the crowd, chasing after what everyone else has.  But the crowd doesn’t care about what’s important to you; you have to define this for yourself.  It helps to have the end in mind when you start. What do you want most? Use your goals as a springboard to improve your finances.

While you’re building your savings account, you should also be thinking about how to improve your credit. Good credit will save you a significant amount of money over time, since it allows you to purchase the things you want at better rates.  A person with good credit will pay less for the same item than a person with poor credit.  Plus, good credit saves you money on insurance, utility deposits, and in some cases, determines whether or not you qualify for a job. To have good credit, you have to be able to pay your bills every month, on time, with full monthly payments, regardless of what is happening in your life. 

In the meantime, you’ll meet life with all of its ups and downs.  At some point, you may experience a setback, but you can recover. If you find yourself struggling, don’t ignore the problem, since issues with money tend to deteriorate when you fail to take action. 

Instead, if you’re struggling, assess where you are.  Then create an action plan to improve your situation. If you need help doing this, then I encourage you to seek help from a certified credit counselor. Under most circumstances, you can resolve your financial problems in as little as two years.  

Start where you are. Define what you want. And then move toward your goals. Along the way, embrace the small successes, because like raindrops in an ocean, they all add up.

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

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.