This Independence Day, NeighborWorks America urges consumers nationwide to become financially ‘fit’ and declare their financial independence in 2010. In order to build a solid financial foundation for families and be better prepared for homeownership in the current market, NeighborWorks America and its network of local nonprofits offer free financial education courses that teach residents better money management skills which will help decrease debt, increase resources, and make affordable homeownership more achievable.
Not only does financial education help consumers learn money management and planning skills needed to make the most of their income, savings and assets, it can also help them become more aware of common challenges, including loan modification scams and predatory lending practices, and how to avoid them.
To help more families kick-start their efforts to asserting financial independence this Fourth of July, NeighborWorks America offers several useful tips:
- Set realistic financial goals. What is it you want to achieve? Evaluate your progress to meeting your goals on a regular basis.
- Create a budget and track every expense for an entire month. This can help you identify areas where you can trim spending.
- Reserve for the future and start a savings plan. Think of this as creating a financial reserve for your family in the event of an emergency or other incident you hadn’t planned for, or if you are interested in becoming a homeowner, the savings plan can help you save for a down payment on a home.
- Pay your bills on time. Late payments have a negative effect on your credit score and your wallet, thanks to late payment fees.
- If you face a financial crisis such as foreclosure or become victim to loan modification scam, consult a nonprofit, HUD-approved counseling organization that offers foreclosure counseling. To find a nonprofit HUD-approved housing counseling agency in your community, visit http://www.findaforeclosurecounselor.org/.
- Consider taking a financial fitness course at one of the more than 85 NeighborWorks affiliates to develop sound money-management skills. Most of the classes are free or are offered at a low-cost. Courses help homeowners learn how to plan financially, set financial goals, manage income and expenditures, and plan for retirement and more.
- If you want to go back to school or start your own business but don’t have the funds, consider opening up an Individual Development Account (IDA). IDAs are designed to help individuals who want to purchase a house, receive job training, further their education, or start up a business. Accounts are offered by community development organizations and are funded by public and private sectors.