The end of the calendar year is a perfect time to review our financial lives of the past year and make plans for the new year. I have used the following four websites in my research and for my undergraduate personal finance course at OSU, and organized them into four steps. I hope you find these tools equally useful.
Step #1: Measure your financial well-being
Colleagues at the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have developed some questions that can be used to measure where you are financially, and they provide steps that can be taken to make improvements.
Step #2: Take steps to a financial tuneup
This comprehensive list of 31 financial recommendations by Ron Lieber of The New York Times touches on almost all areas of personal finances. Some example recommendations include saving a small portion of your paycheck, seeking out lower interest credit cards, and possibly trimming your budget. The website provides a time frame for each recommendation, a video to watch for many of the items, and websites to read further.
Step #3: “Stickk” to your financial goal
This goal-setting website was developed by behavioral economists at Yale University. It helps you reach your goal by defining it precisely, setting the stakes if the goal is not reached, asking you to get a referee and encouraging you to find friends for support. One of my Ph.D. students used this website for finishing her dissertation, and it works for all kinds of hard-to-reach goals!
Step #4: Order your annual credit report
It is always a good idea to check your credit report once a year and this is the federal website that provides free access to the credit reports that are compiled by the three large credit bureaus. You can submit the credit report request online or download, print and mail in the U.S. Mail Request Form from this website: https://www.annualcreditreport.com/gettingReports.action
For more stories like this see Live Smart Ohio.
WRITTEN BY: Cäzilia Loibl, Associate Professor and State Extension Specialist, Family and Consumer Sciences, The Ohio State University.
REVIEWED BY: Amanda Woods, Healthy Finances Program Specialist, Family and Consumer Sciences, The Ohio State University.