'Most people need to take five common sense steps
to improve their finances in order to avoid costly mistakes and even
greater debt accumulation' says the nonprofit Institute of Consumer
Financial Education (ICFE), a San Diego based group helping consumers
become better spenders, regular savers and wise users of credit.
'Because more Americans are paying off short term credit card debt
than ever before, developing new money management skills is an
essential part of the process of debt elimination,' said ICFE
executive director, Paul S. Richard, a registered financial consultant
'Developing financial self-discipline is the consumers' best defense,
even in a soft economy, to avoid compounding past mistakes and
improving finances in 2003' says Richard. Here are five steps to take:
1. Keep your financial know-how current in order to be in a position
to make intelligent spending and other financial decisions. Being
aware of changes in the tax laws, investment returns, etc. helps one
avoid becoming overconfident and unprepared.
2. Project your income and expenses for the next twelve months and
then track the variances. Developing a spending-plan, a/k/a budget,
promotes better spending decisions. Spend money thinking of your
future as well as your present. You have an obligation to be as good
to the person you are going to be in 20, 30 or 40 years from now as
you are to yourself today.
3. When investing, focus on the relationship between the risk and the
projected return of your investments. Many investors overlook the
possibility of not getting their basic investment back because they
are focusing on early, high-end returns. Have a plan and a purpose for
your investing. Focus on making good decisions rather than beating out
a real or an imagined opponent in the stock market or in real estate.
4. Maintain well organized records for income tax and general
financial planning purposes. This is often as easy as having twelve
envelopes, one for each month, and placing all pertinent financial
statements, receipts etc. into an envelope monthly and then placing
the monthly envelopes in a larger, yearly envelope.
5. Manage your money so expenses stay below income. Everyday spending
decisions, especially credit based one, will have a far greater
negative effect on one's financial future than any investment decision
one is likely to ever make. Household and grocery items take up about
30 cents of every take-home dollar. Using coupons and taking advantage
of rebates is a way to make and immediate, positive impact on your
The ICFE's Web site at http://www.financial-education-icfe.org has many helpful spending
tips and worksheets for setting up a one-page spending plan and much,
To receive the same information by mail, please send $1 and a
self-addressed, 60 cent stamped envelope to:
PO Box 34070
San Diego, CA 92163.
About the ICFE:
The Institute of Consumer Financial Education (ICFE) was founded in 1982 by the late Loren Dunton (creator of the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation). The ICFE is dedicated to helping consumers of all ages to improve their spending, increase savings and use credit more wisely.
The ICFE is an award winning, nonprofit, consumer education organization that has helped millions of people through its education programs and Resources. It publishes the Do-It-Yourself Credit File correction Guide, which is updated annually. The ICFE has distributed over one million Credit/Debit Card Warning Labels and Credit/Debit Card Sleeves world wide.
The ICFE became an official partner with the Department of Defense/Financial Readiness Campaign in June of 2004.The ICFE was an active partner in the California Student Debt Resource Awareness Project (CASDRAP) which resulted in a new web site: (studentdebthelp.org). CASDRAP disbanded in 2010, shortly after the web site project was completed. In 2011 the ICFE assumed the single sponsorship of the (studentdebthelp.org) web site and is now responsible for its content and operation.
The ICFE is also an on-line help for consumers who spend too much. ICFE's spending help was featured in PARADE Magazine in the Intelligence Report section. The money helps and tips are from the ICFE's Money Instruction Book, our course in personal finance.
Visit the ICFE's other web sites at: www.financial-education-icfe.org and studentdebthelp.org. Both sites helps consumers and students with mending spending, learning about the proper use of credit, budget and expense guidelines, how to set up and implement a spending-plan and also how to access financial education courses and how to teach children about money. Other ICFE services include: Ask Mr. G, a free eNews, and an online resource center for students, parents and educators, plus financial education learning tools and a book store.