In its monthly online poll, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) asked consumers about their financial New Year’s Resolutions. More than 6,100 consumers responded as follows: My Number One New Year’s Resolution for 2010 is to: A) Decrease debt = 76 percent; B) Increase savings = 6 percent; C) Improve my credit score = 11 percent; and D) Decrease my dependence on credit cards = 7 percent.
“Decreasing debt is certainly a worthwhile goal. However, seeing only six percent of respondents citing saving as a top financial priority is worrisome,” said Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the NFCC. “The problem is compounded when contrasted against the advice given by the NFCC Member Agency CEOs who listed savings as their number one tip for financial stability. This disparity suggests a real need for financial education.”
Without adequate savings, a person is on a slippery financial slope. When the inevitable emergency occurs, resolution options are often limited to borrowing from friends or family, taking money from a higher payment priority such as housing, or charging the expense and adding to an already burdensome debt load.
The NFCC recommends designating 10 percent of each paycheck toward building a rainy day fund. At the end of a year, you’ll have a little more than one month’s income set aside which should be sufficient for most emergencies. Squeezing even an extra 10 percent out of an already tight budget can often be challenging. “The most effective way of finding hidden money in your budget is to track your spending for 30 days,” continued Cunningham. “Being able to see in black and white where your money goes allows you to make conscious decisions about your spending moving forward. You will finally be in control of your money instead of the other way around.”
For more information, visit www.nfcc.org.