Top tips for getting your finances on track

Monday, April 1st, 2019

April is National Financial Literacy Month, a perfect time to get—and keep—your finances in order. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Create a budget. Assessing how much money you bring in and how much you spend is the first step toward gaining control of your finances. This is an opportunity to be honest about your relationship with money, paying attention to your strengths and where you can most improve. The Federal Trade Commission has a budget worksheet that serves as a great starting point.

Save. For every dollar you make, be sure to set aside a portion for savings. If your job offers direct deposit of paychecks, consider creating a savings plan and automatically depositing a certain amount of money in your savings account each payday.

Monitor credit card use. Using a credit card responsibly—borrowing money and repaying it on time and in full—is a great way to build good credit. Used incorrectly, though, and a credit card can be extremely damaging to your financial well-being. Try to avoid charging more than you can pay back—making only the minimum payment due each month can damage your credit and result in high interest payments. Strive to pay off your credit card bill in full and on time each month.

Stay on top of your credit report. Check your credit report at least once a year by ordering your report for free from It’s important to make sure all information on your report is accurate and up-to-date, especially before applying for a loan for a large purchase such as a car or home or before applying for a job. Monitoring your credit report also reduces risk of identity theft. Learn more about how to dispute incorrect information on your credit report here.

Protect your information. Store important financial documents securely. Never give out personal information without first asking who you’re sharing your information with, why they need it, and how they will safeguard it. Maintain security on computers and electronic devices, using and safely storing creative passwords, avoiding sharing personal information on unsecured public wi-fi networks, and refraining from oversharing on social media. Learn more here and spot signs of identity theft here.

For big purchases, do your research. Before making a major purchase such as a car or home, be sure to shop around and research what to expect and what you can negotiate.


Federal Trade Commission | Identity theft issues, consumer scams, and unwanted solicitations.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau | Find consumer information, tips around financial products, and file complaints against financial institutions treating consumers unfairly or illegally. This can include banks, credit unions, consumer lenders, payday and car title loans, loans over the internet, student loan servicers, and debt collectors.

VPLC’s Predatory Loan Help Hotline (866) 830-4501 |Get information, advice, and questions answered around predatory loan issues including payday, car title, internet, and open-end line of credit loans.

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