Well, the holidays are over and it’s the start of another year–and another opportunity to reevaluate your financial life and practices, woo-hoo! The good news is that it just got a lot easier, thanks to all the wonderful resources and tools available at Smart About Money (SAM). Smart About Money is one of the many programs of the National Endowment for Financial Education®. NEFE® is an independent, nonprofit foundation committed to educating Americans on a broad range of financial topics and empowering them to make positive and sound decisions to reach their financial goals. They offer tips, strategies and information on diverse topics like crisis and fraud, saving and investing, spending and borrowing, housing and transportation, taxes and more.
Click through and take a look at some of the tools like the Life Values Quiz, designed to help you better understand how and why you make financial decisions. Knowing your own habits and patterns is the first step to making positive changes in your financial life!
It’s one of the things we all hear so much over the course of our lives–“find what you love to do and make it your career.” And while many have managed to find ways to accomplish this, for most of us it’s easier said than done. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible, or that you shouldn’t even contemplate the possibility. The folks over at Practical Money Skills (produced by Visa, and one of the partners in this year’s Financial Literacy Summit held in April to kick off Money Smart Week) have put together a few strategies and guidelines to consider HERE if you’re someone who is looking to make a change in their life and career.
Summer is finally here, and between planning your holidays and wondering when you should turn on the AC, I bet the last thing you’re thinking about is FINANCIAL LITERACY! However, this is actually the BEST time to start figuring out a plan to keep your life cruising along while planning for the future (ok, actually ANYTIME is a perfect time to work on financial literacy, but why not start now anyway?).
There are many resources that can help, one of which is Feedthepig.org. Assembled by the American Institute of CPAs (and they oughta know!), Feedthepig.org is a great site that offers tips and strategies for putting together a financial plan, including how to create a budget, review your expenses, manage saving, retirement, and student loan debt, and much more. It’s easy to use and fairly straightforward—the real trick, as always, is ACTUALLY DOING IT. Mint.com is another helpful site. Mint pulls all your financial accounts into one place. Set a budget, track your goals, stay on top of your finances. See what’s happening with all your accounts – checking, savings, investments, retirement – at any moment of the day. There’s even a free mobile app to help you stay connected on-the-go. If you’re a student fresh out of college and looking at a mountain (or a molehill) of student loans, you should check out YouCanDealWithIt.com. YouCanDealWithIt.com provides practical and easy-to-understand advice on how to deal with common financial situations facing today’s college students and recent graduates, such as: understanding student aid, including the repayment of student loans, learning effective money management, including setting a budget, and dealing with the dangers of credit cards while enjoying the benefits. In addition to being a resource for students, this website also provides information and tools for parents and college financial aid administrators to help them communicate accurate and effective financial advice to their prospective students, current students, and graduates. So bite the bullet and get started on the road toward better financial literacy today—it may be tough at first, but you’ll be glad you did!
In 2012, approximately 16.6 million individuals (or 7% of the population) over the age or 16 were victims of identity theft in the United States according to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The increasing number of security breaches occurring just in the past few months has made it imperative that consumers take precautions to safeguard their private information and to know where to turn and steps to take if they become victims themselves. The Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Information website has an Identity Theft guide which provides useful and detailed information for victims and tips for those who would like to safeguard their identity. Specific sections (e.g. initial steps to take if you are a victim; what to do later in the process; how to safeguard your identity and different types of identity theft) are presented in an easy to understand format with helpful checklists to simplify the process.
This guide explains the why and how of background checks. It also tells you what can be covered in a background report, your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
The Federal Trade Commission has important information on how to obtain a free credit report, and how to spot “impostor” sites.
Earlier this year, Illinois enacted the Employee Credit Privacy Act, which prohibits the use of credit histories or credit reports in making employment decisions. As with most employment laws, the Act doesn’t apply to all employers or all employees, so please take a look at what the law requires.
You are entitled to request one free credit file disclosure, commonly called a credit report, once every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. While prices may vary when requesting a credit score from these or other companies, the score is an additional cost and is not included in the free credit report unless ordered.
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
Request a fraud alert online, or call 1-888-766-0008
2 Baldwin Place
P.O. Box 1000
Chester, PA 19022
Request a fraud alert online: firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-680-7289
955 American Lane
Schaumburg, IL 60173
To add a fraud alert or 888-397-3742
Sun-Times columnist, Terry Savage, recommends Consumer Credit Counseling Services (800-388-2227) for helpful advice to review your credit history or debt issues.
Another of our MoneySmart Week programs, Getting Through Tough Financial Times, had some useful information we wanted to share with you from the University of Illinois Extension.
Setting Spending Priorities
Managing Your Debt
Talking with Creditors
The Check Your Credit Report fact sheet