Ever wish you could have a crash course in how to deal with your credit, loans, and savings as you dole out your paycheck each month? Well do’s and don’ts on those topics aren’t too hard to find. Levo sat down with Stacy Francis, President & CEO, Francis Financial, Inc. and Founder, Savvy Ladies, in Office Hours and gave simple do’s and don’t’s for aspects of your financial portfolio.
Francis cautioned that the best financial plan is one that you can choose and stick with based on your own personal risk tolerance. Need a roadmap for how to do so? Check out these simple tips below:
DO: Get your credit score often
It’s incredibly important to check your credit report through simple and free sites like annualcreditreport.com and get constant and updated information. When you do get your score, check to see if there is any inaccurate information, since one of every five scores has incorrect information. A good score is usually in the 800s, Francis said.
You should also get your credit score about three times a year — September, January, and May — to monitor for identity theft. This is always free and never hurts your score, she said.
DON’T: Live above your means
As you structure a lifestyle with a new paychecks and positions, it’s important to remember that you are not going to live like your parents or other older family members. Francis said that every time you get a raise, you should remember to give your savings each month a raise. “Your credit card can make or break your financial life,” she said.
Use free resources to track where your spending goes each month, Francis said, adding that some of these sites include mint.com. Studies have also shown that you spend less when using cash than credit cards, so it’s good to remember that when you are shopping and eating out. Cash feels differently when you spend it, she said.
It’s also essential to remember that you shouldn’t mix money with emotions, she said, don’t spend when you have a bad day. It’s a temporary high and a bad habit to get into.
DON’T: Ignore your student loans, start to pay them off
Be aware of your interest rate, Francis said. When you have an aggressive, or more than 5 percent, rate, you should be aggressive about paying off the loans. Francis said that when you have a lower rate, use the excess cash to invest in long-term goals. Remember that when you pay off your loans, you build a positive credit score, she said.
DO: Save for other things, despite the loans
Go on with your life, Francis said. Remember that often online payments can help reduce rates when you pay them on time. Make sure to save for other things like a mortgage payment. You can have both kinds of debt, Francis said, it’s good debt.
DO: Get involved in your research plan
You should have three to six months of emergency money, but once you’ve built that, start saving! Building a 401(k) is like putting away some of your chocolates for later so that you can’t even touch them. These plans are particularly great when you can do them through an employer because contributions can be matched, Francis said, take advantage of that contribution.
DON’T: Put off saving
The younger you are, the more time you have on your side. You don’t need all the info, and you can gather what you need on the internet. Find a trusted financial mentor, use sites like yahoo finance or morningstar.com.
Gen Y-ers should take around an hour a month to pay bills and track their broader financial portfolio, Francis said. You learn things and get updates. Francis said, “The more time you spend on your money, the more you make.”
Watch the Office Hours with Stacy Francis: