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Six tips for financial security

by Alison Crane, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, Garland County Extension Service | May 21, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.

Financial security is closely tied to mental health. Over 72% of Americans reported stress about money at least some of the time before the pandemic and economic downturn even happened. Finances are listed as the number one stressor according to a consumer credit company's survey. In fact, finances were 14% higher than the next listed stressor.

Creating financial stability can control the flow of your money earned and spent plus impact basically all other aspects of life, including improving mental health outcomes. For a working mother, increasing your family's financial security not only helps with managing your everyday stress, it also sets an example for your children that can provide them with a foundation to make good financial decisions as they grow and gain independence.

Whether you are already financially secure or are working toward that goal, taking time to assess where you are currently will assist you to reach long-term goals. Learning about finances while still at home can help your child practice applying sound money principles before their decisions can affect their physical and mental well-being.

The Garland County Extension Service has many resources and programs available to help educate families about basic financial management, including handouts to use while talking to your child about money. To start increasing your financial security or to check for areas that may need attention, use these six tips.

1. BALANCE INCOME & EXPENSES. Make a weekly or monthly written plan that includes fixed, variable, and periodic expenses. Knowing your income and expenses will help you make plans and set goals.

2. MANAGE DEBT. Excluding your mortgage, your debt load should be not more than 10-15% to allow you to pay all of your bills on time. If you are interested in paying off or paying down debt use to find your best repayment plan.

3. CHECK YOUR CREDIT REPORT. Monitor your credit report to watch for mistakes, fraud, or identity theft. You can order a free report annually from each of the three agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Spread them out and order one every four months to keep a more constant check on your credit. Order from

4. IMPROVE YOUR CREDIT SCORE. Make regular on-time payments, keep balances low, and use a variety of types of credit to improve your score. Generally, a score over 700 is considered good and can impact what interest rates you are offered for loans.

5. SAVE FOR THE UNEXPECTED. An emergency fund is your safety net and creates peace of mind. Most experts recommend having enough money saved to cover at least three to six months of expenses.

6. PLAN FOR RETIREMENT. Financial security is not just for the here and now but also to ensure a secure retirement. Working to retire debt free allows greater freedom to fulfill those bucket list plans that you make along the way.

Peace of mind is one of the greatest gifts you give yourself and your family. For more ways to improve your financial security and even your health try Small Steps to Health and Wealth. Call Alison Crane at 501-623-6841 or email [email protected] to learn more.

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