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How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Setting Financial Goals for the Year Ahead

Financing last-minute Christmas gifts

Your Credit and the Holidays

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

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

Setting Financial Goals for the Year Ahead

Q. We make a reasonable living. We don’t want to spend another year living paycheck to paycheck. How can we create a realistic plan to get ahead in 2018?

A. If you want to stop living paycheck to paycheck, then it’s wise to think about why you consistently find yourself in this position in the first place.  Are you carrying too much debt?  Are your regular monthly expenses too high?  Do you pay your monthly bills, but then spend whatever remains?  Are you spending money in areas out of habit rather than spending your money intentionally. It’s not uncommon for people to answer yes to all of these questions.

When you can be honest about what may be causing your financial issues, then you can start thinking about small, concrete steps that can help you stop living paycheck to paycheck. Would a small emergency fund—anywhere from $500 to $1000—stop the cycle of paycheck-to-paycheck living for you? Could paying down debt or reducing your monthly expenses be the solution for increasing your cash flow? 

Now is the time many people are thinking about their financial goals or resolutions for 2018. Too often, people don’t take the time to think about what they want to change or accomplish with their finances. They don’t set goals or make a plan. As a result, they become frustrated that they cannot get ahead no matter what happens.  Setting goals that reflect what you want to accomplish is the first step to getting what you want. If you have a spouse or significant other you should set goals together. 

Whatever your goals for the year to come, you move closer to reaching them when you write them down. It doesn’t have to be anything more than a few words jotted down on an index card. Once you put those goals in writing, put your index card in your wallet or checkbook. This way, whenever you plan to spend money, you’ll be reminded of your financial goals for 2018. 

If you have a spouse or significant other, each of you should have a copy of this goal card. Make sure you have the same goals on your cards. To accomplish a shared goal, you will no doubt have to practice a little bit of give and take. Nevertheless, nothing says your goals are set in stone. As the year progresses, you may want to modify your goals. 

The simple act of writing down your goals and focusing on what you want is the surest way to accomplish what you want in 2018.

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.