Financial Literacy - Debt management
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savings
Money management 101

From the middle class to millionaires, everyone feels a few dollars short of comfort at times. But more money won't necessarily solve financial difficulties.

Developing strong money management skills can help you use the money you have today to live the life you want. Plus, when your ship does come in -- the great job, the winning lottery ticket or the inheritance from rich Uncle Bob -- you'll know how to handle it.

"People need to have a plan for their money," says Steve Bucci, Bankrate's debt adviser and president of Money Management International Financial Education Foundation. "If you don't have a plan and the other person does have a plan, they're going to win because they have the discipline, goal and desire and you're just sort of playing by ear."

And who is the other person? Marketers, says Bucci, who also authored "Credit Repair Kit for Dummies."

It's not your imagination; people are out to get you -- or at least your money. Being prepared will help you counter the very real forces out there that want you to spend, spend, spend.

Savings strategies
  1. Set goals
  2. Track spending
  3. Automate savings
  4. Prepare a budget
  5. Change behavior
  6. Borrow wisely
  7. Prioritize bills

1. Set goals

Not all superfluous spending goes to shiny new toys and baubles. Money can be easily frittered away via expensive cable packages or restaurant meals, to name a couple of examples.

Setting goals provides a mechanism for overriding the impulse to buy things that are not as important.

"People don't often associate spending plans with dreaming, but if you do it right, it's a key ingredient," says Bucci.

"You need a reason not to spend on things that don't matter. You decide that you have a goal in mind that is more important."

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Writing down your goals will help prioritize spending when it comes time to map out your plan. Bucci recommends writing short-term, medium-term and long-term goals on note cards. If you have them, include kids and the significant other in the process.

"You make your choices, but you need to have the dream or the goal and the money plus knowing that you're going to be able to put the money aside," he says.

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