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Plan Well, Retire Well

Saving and investing your money

Take Control of Your Finances

Do you feel like the financial world is spinning out of control? I feel like every time I pick up the newspaper or read a blog that another financial disaster has occurred. I do think our national economic situation is very shaky right now, but I don't like feeling that the world is ending!

What can a person do? Most of us can't do anything about the stock market or stupid lending practices or the dollars' value on the world market, but we can take control of our own finances.

Now is a good time to go back to the basics and be sure that our financial life is in order.

1. Make bill payments on time. This has the biggest influence on your credit report score.

2. Take time to review your insurance policies and be sure that you are well covered. Comparison shop to be sure that your policy is providing the best coverage for the money you spend. One way to save money on premiums is to increase the deductible that you pay before the insurance company pays. Only do this if you can afford the higher deductible.

3. That brings us to emergency funds -- how is yours? Typically financial professionals recommend enough money in your fund to cover 3-6 months of essential spending. If you don't have this much money saved up, now is a good time to start! Check the Plan Well, Retire Well website for tips on how to get started or to increase your saving.

4. Pay down your credit. With the economy shaky, now is a good time to lower the amount of credit debt you have.

5. Stay with your investment plan. Historically people who have stayed in the stock market when the overall value is going down (rather than pulling money out) have done better in the long-run. You can check if your investments match your asset allocation goals. If not, then slowly make changes.

6. Take care of home maintenance. For most people their home value is an important part of their assets. Don't put off home maintenance so long that it costs more to fix the problem later!

While these six steps aren't "rocket science," they are positive steps that each of us can do to take control of your finances.

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