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Bankrate.com's Financial Literacy Survey shows that 72 percent of Americans polled consider themselves good to excellent at managing their money, yet only 26 percent scored above a "C" when it comes to actually doing it. So, what's it take to be a good financial manager? We've identified 12 actions that indicate smart money skills.

12 steps to good money management

1. Pay bills on time to avoid late fees.
Tips for eliminating late fees; 16 rules for paying your bills; Your credit card statement made simple

2. Pay more than the minimum on your credit cards.
Calculate the true cost of paying the minimum; Pay biweekly to bring down balances; 15 credit card terms

3. Read your bank statement regularly.
Anatomy of a bank statement; 7 ways to keep your account in check; Find the best account for you; 10 most common checking account terms

4. Build an emergency fund of at least three months' living expenses.
FAQ about emergency savings; Kick off a savings plan; 17 easy ways to save more; Calculate what it'll take to save for a goal

5. Prepare a will.
Everything you need to know to write a will; What's a living will?; More personal finance advice

6. Shop around for the best insurance rates and coverage.
Comparison shop for coverage online; Cut costs with combined coverage; Tips for cutting auto insurance costs

7. Look around for and switch to credit cards with lower rates.
How to transfer a balance safely; Ask for a lower credit card rate; Form letter to request a lower rate

8. Follow a monthly budget.
Develop your own spending plan; What's your spending style?; Money-saving tips

9. Adjust your W-4 annually to make sure you are not giving the government too much money.
Understanding withholding ; Open a flexible spending account; How to adjust your withholding; More on taxes

10. Check your credit report annually for accuracy.
Why you should check your credit report; Understanding your credit report; FAQ about identity theft; Credit report form letter

11. Contribute to a retirement account.
FAQs about 401(k)s; The ABCs of IRAs; Retirement savings reduce taxes; 401 (k) calculator; How much will I need to retire?

12. Comparison shop for the best deal on your mortgage or refinancing.
Is refinancing right for you?; Estimate your savings with refi calculator; Save time and money by shopping online first; More on mortgages

 

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