Getting Financially Fit Podcast Transcript
Welcome to the Informed Consumer, providing the latest tips and tools to assist consumers in making informed decisions, from the Fairfax County Consumer Affairs Branch.
Today's topic: Getting Financially Fit.
To become financially fit is easer said than done. When not used wisely, debt can block your daily needs, create stress, and reduce your ability to get credit at favorable interest rates or not at all. If your debt burden is more than 40 percent of your gross income, it’s time to come up with a strategy to pay it down. The greatest challenge is deciding how and where to begin. Here are some points to consider so you can develop a plan of action now.
Follow Your Money
- Start tracking where and how each penny and dollar is spent. A budget or a spending plan puts it all out there so you can focus more clearly on reducing and eliminating debt.
- Set short-term achievable goals that you can accomplish in three months or less. After you have success, expand into longer-term goals that focus on financial security and sustainability.
- When you know where your money is going, you can make better spending decisions based on needs instead of wants.
Stop Spending What You Don’t Have
- To learn the true cost of spending, set aside a week or more in which you do not use credit cards, or make ATM withdrawals that are not free - only use cash. By giving credit cards or ATM usage fees the cold shoulder, you will be in a better position to resist temptation and impulse buying. Cash is the best budgeting tool you can use because once it’s gone, you stop spending.
- When you use cash, there are no fees, interest or overdraft charges. If you overdraw a debit card you may have to pay overdraft charges, and you will have to pay finance charges on unpaid balances on credit cards.
- Using a credit card is like getting a lone. If you only pay the minimum, you may end up paying much more than you charged. To develop a plan to pay off credit card debt faster, check out the credit card calculator from the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov .
Make Your Money Grow
- Pay yourself first by saving each time you get paid, get a monetary gift or a pay increase.
- Try direct deposit or other automatic saving options to develop this healthy habit.
Get Your Credit Report
- Your credit report, which outlines your loan and bill payment history, is used by financial institutions and other potential creditors to make decisions about your ability to repay debt. Information in this report can affect your ability to get a job, a loan, a credit card or insurance.
- You need to get a copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies each year to check for errors, inaccurate information, identity theft or other fraud.
- The Federal Trade Commission is the only legitimate site to get a free annual credit report.
- After you get your credit report, contact Fairfax County’s Consumer Affairs Branch at 703-222-8435 if you have questions about what’s in your credit report or if you have a problem with a credit reporting agency that you are unable to resolve.
Don’t Wait To Start
- Visit the Financial Literacy Network of Northern Virginia for information about public, private, and nonprofit financial education providers in Northern Virginia to find financial education services that are right for you.
- For tips, tools, and information to keep you financially fit, 24/7, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s Money Matters at www.ftc.gov .
- If being financially fit was easy, you would already be rich. Start now, your future is waiting.
Thanks for listening to the Informed Consumer. For more information on this topic or if you feel that you’ve been a victim of a scam, please contact the Consumer Affairs Branch at 703-222-8435 or visit our web site at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer. Informed Consumer is produced by the Fairfax County, Virginia, government.