As we prepare for July 4 festivities, many people have fireworks on their list. Whether they are purchasing bottle rockets for their own use or going to a larger show, such displays are a tradition in many families. However, as we start the second half of 2013, there are some potentially dangerous personal finance fireworks that you might experience this upcoming Independence Day holiday that could derail your saving and budgeting plans you built in early 2013.
Do any of these sound familiar to you?
Personal finance smoke bombs – Colorful smoke bombs can look nice and festive, but a personal finance smoke bomb between individuals can hide problems. “Many times, people feel that if they can create a diversion when it comes to discussing personal finance, they can push off painful conversations about spending habits and debt,” said David Flores, GreenPath counselor. “But, much like a real smoke bomb, once the air clears, the problem is still there.” Flores says it’s best to clear the air of such smoke and get a true understanding of where your money goes each month by building a personal finance budget.
Slow-saving sparklers – Growing up, we were warned to hold a sparkler at arm’s length, maybe twirl it around a bit, and it went out shortly thereafter. “The same can be said of our personal finance habits that started out so strong at the beginning of the year,” Flores said.
“We kicked off 2013 with a bright budget and some excitement, but by the beginning of summer, our new habits are fading.”
Flores stresses that it’s important to revisit those initial feelings of taking control of your personal finances and re-dedicate yourself to good, solid spending and savings habits during the rest of 2013.
An example is to start saving $10 a week now towards holiday gifts, which will lessen the impact on your budget towards the end of the year (nearly $250 come mid-December).
Fast-spending firecrackers – Some people make a long string of firecrackers last an entire evening, as they light one at a time. Others set off the entire string at once to watch it explode into a continuous series of loud pops and bangs. Several seconds later, the noise is done and all that’s left are shreds of paper. Your monthly income is similar in that you can spend only what you need and conserve your money to last the entire month. Or you can go out and blow your paycheck in a short period of time with very little remaining for the rest of the month.
“Be disciplined with your spending and saving and you’ll have more fun in the long run,” said Flores. “Instant gratification is fun for a short time, but it ends all too quickly.”
Or, like cities that hire companies to run their Independence Day celebrations, you can opt to leave the fireworks to the experts:
Professional fireworks – “Cities trust professionals to safely and effectively put on a first-class fireworks show,” Flores remarked. “Families come and watch the show, enjoy the festivities and leave the heavy lifting to the professionals.” Much can be said for personal finance goals.
Flores reminds consumers to consider reaching out to a professional, non-profit credit counseling group for free personal finance advice. Look for a group that is accredited by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling or the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies.
“They can help you, free of charge, develop a budget and give you a true understanding where your money goes each month,” Flores remarked.
By re-dedicating yourself to your personal finance goals you started in early 2013, the rest of the year will have you on the path to strong saving and budgeting, landing you a bit better off, when we ring in 2014 in six short months!