• I’m overwhelmed, what do I do?

    Take a deep breath, mastering your personal finances is a gradual process.  Focus on one thing each week to help you get in control of your money.  Some action steps to take include, but are not limited to:

    1. Get in control of your credit card debt
      1. Having a balance on your credit card can cost you a lot of money in interest payments- Pay it off in full each month!
      2. If you don’t have a credit card, now is a great time to get one as long as you are responsible to pay it off monthly.  Credit cards are a great way to build your credit if used correctly.
    2. Know where your money is going
      1. Develop a simple system to track you money, possibly mint.com.
      2. Then develop a spending plan based on your needs and wants, remember that your spending should reflect your values.
    3. Know your loans
      1. Talk to financial aid for a loan report- finaid@hamline.edu    
      2. You can also find your loan information on Piperline
      3. Know the terms of your loans (interest rates, payback periods, when to start, cost inflicting rules)
    4. Check your credit score and credit report
      1. You can get a free credit report 3 times per year (once for each reporting agency) at www.AnnualCreditReport.com
      2. It is like a transcript for your finances, it will contain all of your accounts but you should read through it because errors (identity theft) can occur can it’s best to take care of them as soon as possible
    5. Start saving
      1. Retirement accounts should not wait, the sooner you start the sooner you can start gaining compound interest
      2. Think ahead, what things are you going to want money for?  A Wedding, down payment on a house, vacation, grad school?  Start an account for these and contribute what you can to them each month.
    6. Is your paycheck protected?
      1. Important forms of insurance include: life, disability, health
      2. Some employers offer these but it may be beneficial to supplement them with individual policies
        1. These prevent your family from feeling a financial burden if anything bad happens and you are no longer able to work
    7. Personal finance is like dieting, it is most effective if you gradually make small improvements and stick with it for the long haul.  You can do it!