Financial Planning for All Income Brackets: One Step At A Time
According to some studies, one third of working Americans are struggling to meet the basic needs for their families. In Vermont, depending on the data, there are 12% of Vermonters in this situation and many, many more just barely pulling together their family's finances.
Financial stress affects health, job performance and quality of life. Simple tips and changes for individuals can improve the financial life and the outlook of individuals.
Positive Small Changes like opening a savings account or creating a savings jar will allow you to see your money add up even if it is only a dollar every few weeks. Consider your employers retirement plan. Some employers offer a match if you contribute, but only if you contribute. Even five dollars a month could double just with your employer's contribution and lower your income taxes.
The most important thing one can do is to ask for help. The resources that are open to low income individuals and families range from food to medical care to tax preparation. Everyone needs a little help now and then. Look at this winter. Heating bills have been sky high for everyone. There are agencies to help stabilize such extreme needs.
Finally, be willing to learn about personal finance. Free classes are offered through charitable organizations, banks, credit unions and on-line. Any situation will improve with some understanding of the details of credit, savings and planning. Here are some resources to get you started:
1. United Way: Chittenden and Addison County
2. Credit Unions: Here are two examples:
Andrea Heller is a Certified Credit Counselor at Opportunities Credit Union
Lori McDonough Anger, NEFCU Loan Officer/Financial Counselor
3. Office of the State Treasurer
Lisa Helme is Director of Financial Literacy & Communications
4. Financial Calculators: Help you understand the impact of taking on debt and saving for retirement