Taking a financial picture

Do you have long-term goals like retiring early or sending your kids to college? Would you like to know that those goals are attainable? If you keep a close watch on your overall financial picture, your chances of having freedom to enjoy your resources and have them work for you increase greatly.

Keep the following points in mind as you look at your spending: You have little or no control over your fixed expenses such as rent, mortgage or loan payments. You can control non-essential expenses like entertainment, expensive restaurants, vacations and other luxury purchases.

Understand your "real" credit limit
Creditors don't always know how much your really can afford they can only make assumptions. Just because you were pre-approved for a $500,000 house doesn't always mean it is wise to buy one. So it is important to realize that the more debt you incur the larger your monthly payments will be and the longer it will take to pay off.

Do a periodic self-evaluation
No matter what your income or resources are, periodically taking a close look at your financial picture can prevent difficulties in the future. Perhaps you're spending more than you earn. Maybe you have devoted a large part of your savings into starting your own business. Then you'll have to cut back on discretionary purchases. If you're only able to meet the minimum payments on your credit cards, don't add to your debt by charging more. Ask yourself the following questions.

  • Is your savings cushion adequate?
  • Do you feel comfortable with the amount of debt you are carrying?
  • Do you exceed or approach the credit limits on your accounts?
  • Do you take on additional credit cards in order to spread out your debt?
  • If you lost your job, would you be in immediate financial difficulty?
  • In general, are you comfortable with what you see when you pay your bills every month?
Evaluate your financial picture
If you see warning signs contact a non-profit organization that will assist you in debt management, budget counseling and furthering your financial education.

For Additional Credit Information:
National Foundation for Consumer Credit: 1-800-388-2227
Consumer Credit Counseling Service: 1-800-388-CCCS
(for the location nearest you)

Credit Bureaus:
CSC Credit Services: 1-800-392-7816
Equifax: 1-800-685-1111
TRW Information System: 1-800-392-1122
Trans Union Corporation: 1-800-888-4213