Money, work and the economy are major sources of stress for most Americans. Luckily, January is Financial Wellness Month, just in time for a fresh start in 2014. Understanding your finances and having a plan for keeping them on track helps reduce money-related stress.
While financial concerns and financial planning are such vast topics they can seem overwhelming, the good news is that there are many free resources available offering straightforward information to help guide your decisions. Here are three sites full of resources to get you started:
MyMoney.gov is dedicated to teaching Americans financial education. The site is organized around five principles:
1) Earn – This principle is all about making the most of what you earn and understanding your salary and benefits.
2) Save and invest – This section is devoted to learning about saving and investing for the future.
3) Protect – This principle is about making sure you have proper insurance and emergency savings, as well as other precautions.
4) Spend – Learn about creating a budget and comparison shopping to get the best value.
5) Borrow – Lastly, this section is all about borrowing and how to manage your debt.
AARP also offers many financial planning resources on its website, including:
- Money Newsletter – an e-newsletter dedicated to all things financial.
- AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Program – a free program for taxpayers with low to moderate income aimed at helping people have more discretionary income for essentials.
- Long-Term Care Calculator – a resource for determining how much long-term care will cost so that savings and budgets can be made accordingly.
- Money Matters Tip Sheets – printable information on Social Security, saving and planning, investing, managing and protecting assets, and housing and mortgages.
- Articles – countless in-depth articles on financial topics.
USA.gov also offers Personal Finance resources covering a variety of topics, including:
- Credit Card and Debt: credit cards, credit reports, car loans and more.
- Home Ownership: mortgage resources and housing information.
- Money Management: charitable giving, financial security, saving and investing, and other topics.
- Retirement and Estate Planning: estate gifts, trust, wills and investing.
Determine which areas of your finances are top priorities for 2014, then use the above resources to educate yourself on how to tackle them most effectively. Create a clear plan, and commit to sticking to it.
Like any New Year’s resolution, financial goals take dedication. Starting out the year with a solid strategy will put you on the road to success. What’s more, knowing you’re on track will decrease any worry related to your finances. Here is to a stress-free 2014!