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Posts Tagged ‘Healthy Finances’

Conversations about money might be uncomfortable for some people. When speaking with individuals about money I often hear comments like, “I don’t have enough money to budget” Or “it’s so overwhelming I don’t know where to start”. According to a FINRA Investor Education Foundation survey, 60% of those surveyed feel anxious when thinking of their finances and 50% felt stressed discussing their finances. If you are like many, you just want to know how to get started. One of my favorite sayings from Aristotle (and Mary Poppins) is “well begun is half done”.

Person with face in her hands near a computer

So here are three basic steps to get started.

 1. Reduce debt

 2. Increase savings

3. Make a plan

Let’s break it down.

First, know your debt. Make a list of each item you owe, the length of time until paid off, and the percentage rate. This information allows you to plan for debt reduction with the most success. The interest rate directly impacts the amount of tomorrow’s money you’re using today. Consider the types of debt you may have: credit card or revolving debt, installment debt like car payments, and student loan debt. Using an online tool like Powerpay will help you form a plan to reduce debt with the most effectiveness.

Second, begin to save or increase your savings. Establishing an emergency fund can help you avoid future credit card use by having funds available when emergencies happen. In addition, establishing a savings account can help you plan for future goals. The emergency fund is for the unexpected while the savings are for the expected. There are many ways to begin saving, choose what works best for you, and then stick to it. It could be automatic deposit from a paycheck into a savings account, saving change in a jar and taking it to the bank when full, setting aside extra funds from bonuses, overtime, or tax returns, or utilizing a savings app on the phone. Whichever you choose, resolve to start today!

Lastly, it’s time to make a plan, a spending plan that is! If you have never formed a budget (also known as a spending plan) now is a great time to start. A spending plan is an intentional look at the money you need each month to meet your obligations. Start with fixed expenses like mortgage or rent payment, loan payments, and utilities. Then, consider flexible expenses like food, entertainment, gifts, and clothing.  To get started you may choose to use a calendar or notebook to record all of your expenses and income. This allows you to track when, how much, and what you are purchasing. Using a tool like Eight Easy Exercises can help you shape your budget.

Well begun is half done. What can you begin today to improve your financial well-being tomorrow?

Written by: Melissa J. Rupp, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fulton County.

Reviewed by: Patrice Powers-Barker, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Lucas County.

References:

https://gflec.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Anxiety-and-Stress-Report-GFLEC-FINRA-FINAL.pdf?x85507America Saves (September 14, 2021)

https://americasaves.org/resource-center/insights/54-ways-to-save-money/ (September 14, 2021)

https://www.fdic.gov/resources/consumers/consumer-news/2021-02.html (September 14, 2021)

Photo by Pixabay

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The pandemic has caused ripples of uncertainty and concern in all areas of life. At the start of the pandemic, people sheltered in place and stayed home. Children began virtual learning, some employees transitioned to a home office environment. For others though, the transition was not as easy. People lost work or income which threatened the security of their homes.

A study by the Census Bureau shows that 38% of homeowners and 54% of renters in Ohio lost employment income between March 2020 and March 2021. This loss of income in part has led 9% of homeowners and 18% of renters in the state to be behind on their housing payments. Many of these households were able to stay in their homes due to federal housing protections, but those expired on July 31.

If you are having trouble making your housing payment, it is important to act if you want to prevent foreclosure or eviction.

Help for renters and landlords

The CDC announced on August 3 an eviction moratorium that would temporarily stop eviction in places where COVID-19 was spreading rapidly. You still need to take action to help prevent eviction. If you already completed a CDC Declaration, you will be coved by it until October 3, 2021. If you have not, you can see if you qualify and then may complete the form and give to your landlord.

As a renter or a landlord you can apply to a state or local program for money from the federal Emergency Rental Assistance program. This money can cover back rent, including utilities, that came due during the COVID-19 pandemic. Money may also be available to cover moving costs. There may also be additional assistance in your area, this tool allows you to filter by state and county.

Help for homeowners

If you are having trouble making your mortgage payments you may have mortgage relief options, like forbearance, available to you. Forbearance is a plan in which your servicer can pause or reduce your payments while you recover from financial hardship. You will need to know who your mortgage servicer is and contact them as soon as possible to come up with a plan to prevent foreclosure.

The longer you wait to contact your mortgage servicer or the further you fall behind on payments it may be harder to find a solution. If you have further questions or need additional assistance please contact a housing counselor or the Legal Aid Society in your area.

Written by: Courtney Woelfl, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Woelfl.1@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Patrice Powers-Barker, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, powers-barker.1

Updated 8/9/2021 to reflect new CDC eviction moratorium.


If you are having trouble making your housing payment, it is important to act if you want to prevent foreclosure or eviction.

References

The Financial Pressures on Households Vary Considerably by State. Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies tabulations of US Census Bureau, Household Pulse Surveys, January–March 2021.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Multiple pages. ConsumerFinance.gov and https://www.consumerfinance.gov/coronavirus/mortgage-and-housing-assistance/

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