According to Nerd Wallet, the average U.S. household carries $15,611 in credit card debt; $155,192 in mortgage debt; and $32,264 in student loan debt.
But help, or rather advice, is on the way. Use it wisely.
Just in time for National Financial Literacy Month, financial experts across the nation are sharing their best advice for “getting your fiscal house in order.”
The Society of Financial Awareness, for example, offers a number of free workshops and seminars for corporations, small businesses, government agencies, community colleges, libraries, churches or organizations. The non-profit’s founder, Jim Chilton, recently released the following list of common financial offenses to avoid:
Living without a net. Chilton suggests setting aside savings that will serve as an emergency fund in case you suddenly have major medical problems or lose your job. He recommends a six to 12-month cushion that would cover your mortgage, groceries, utilities and the other necessities of day-to-day living.
Failing to check credit reports. More than 70 percent of credit reports contain some sort of error, Chilton says. Meanwhile, identity theft is on the rise. You should check your credit reports annually to make sure you are not a victim.
Giving little thought to retirement. Many people fail to properly prepare for retirement. If you think Social Security will take care of you, think again. Social Security is designed as supplemental income, not something that can replace your entire paycheck, Chilton says. You need to plan and save to make sure you can lead the lifestyle you want in your later years.
Racking up credit card debt. Credit seems to rule, but cash should be your real king, Chilton says. Americans are carrying more than $800 billion in credit card debt, he says. Making a conscious effort to use cash will help wean you off your reliance on plastic. “If you are struggling with credit card debt, you need to start making a plan to get rid of that debt,” he says.
Seeking advice in the wrong places. When it comes to financial advice, Chilton says a trained professional is your best bet. Word of mouth can be helpful, but it can be equally hurtful. Before you pick someone to help you with investments, though, do your homework because you want someone with a good reputation. Check with the Better Business Bureau and do a Google search to see what else you can learn.
Trying to do too much, too quickly. Financial problems that took years to create aren’t going to be fixed overnight. So, ease into your new financial plan. Instead of a dramatic overhaul that could leave you frustrated, try to make small changes that will lead to larger commitments.