LatinaLista.net -- Time and time again, Latinos, as a whole, rank consistently low when it comes to financial literacy. Whether it's creating a household budget, saving money or even knowing how to invest, most of us could benefit with either a few lessons or refresher courses, especially in these times when there are new rules regarding credit.
The U.S. government recently released their Five Tips for Good Financial Health:
Create a budget
Financial experts are the first to say it: The first step towards good financial health is having a balanced budget. A good first step is to write down all of your monthly expenses and make sure that you're not spending more than what you make.
Once you have a budget:
Identify and eliminate nonessential expenses
Set aside money saved
Revise budget periodically to make adjustments as necessary
Have a plan to pay down your debt
Paying down debt is an essential part of good financial health. After all, money spent on debt is money not being saved for retirement or other investments.
The Federal Reserve has a calculator that can help you figure out how long it will take you to pay your credit cards depending on the interest rate and your monthly payments. There are also several nonprofit organizations that offer counseling if you have out of control debt.
Establish a long-term plan
After creating a budget and developing a plan to pay down your debts, financial experts suggest creating long-term financial goals. One of the most common of these goals is saving for retirement.
The Department of Labor suggests 10 ways to prepare for retirement, which include:
Getting familiar with the Social Security Retirement Plan
Contributing to an employer-backed pension or retirement plan, such as a 401(k), if available
Opening an Individual Retirement Plan, or IRA
Protect Your Investments
Insurance policies can help you protect your wealth. Home and auto insurance are some of the most common policies. But there are others you might consider, including disability insurance, life insurance and long-term care insurance.
Before purchasing an insurance policy:
Consider all your personal needs
Learn about insurance policies offered by your employer
Get at least two estimates
Make sure to take advantage of all available discounts
Write a Will
Financial planning goes beyond one's life. By writing a will, you can legally protect your property and ensure that your wealth is distributed to your survivors as you planned and with the least taxation as possible.
Clearly establishing the fact that the document is a will
Naming an executor of the will. This is the person who will ensure that your estate is distributed according to your wishes
Signing the document in front of at least two witnesses