The three steps that will simplify managing your finances

Just one week into the New Year, many are finding that their financial resolutions have already fallen by the wayside – but that doesn’t mean you should admit defeat! The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) and MMI offer three simple steps that you can easily utilize to get back on the road to financial stability.

The three A’s of financial wellness are as follows:

Action – Many are paralyzed by their situation, frozen in a state of financial anxiety. Others feel that they are in such deep financial trouble that there is no real help available. Some may fear that they’ll reach out for help to the wrong organization, thus ending up worse off than when they began. Unfortunately, failure to act will only make matters worse, as the problem isn’t going to cure itself. Likewise, delaying action will only make the situation more difficult to resolve. You owe it to yourself and your family to sit down with a certified credit counselor at a legitimate nonprofit agency, such as MMI. Our counselors are trained to do a thorough review of your unique situation and provide concrete solutions – which can mean the difference between financial failure and financial success.

Automate – Make technology your friend by signing up for direct deposit, automatic bill paying and online banking. You can avoid paying late fees by arranging credit card payments to be sent automatically before the statement due date each month, making sure the payment amount equals at least the minimum amount due. You can always circle back and pay the balance in full, but knowing the bill has been paid on time brings you peace of mind and avoids negative dings on your credit report and score. Direct deposit helps to avoid the long lines at the bank on payday, as well as providing a degree of safety since the paycheck can’t be stolen from an unattended mailbox. Further, the surest way to save is to have money automatically deposited into a savings account before you ever see it.

Accountability – People are well-intentioned justifiers. Financial accountability starts with financial honesty. If you find that you have more excuses than money in the bank, enlist the support of an accountability partner. Make sure this person is someone you’re comfortable revealing your financial dirty laundry to, is someone you respect enough to follow their advice, and is strong enough to speak the truth to you. It may be tempting to pick someone who is in the same financial shape as you, but that type of relationship often ends up being a two-person pity party. Instead, find someone who is a responsible money manager and is willing to share those skills with you.

Ultimately, small steps can equal big rewards. Once you make the decision to take control of your financial future, you can revel in the fact that you’ve already taken the most important step.

The NFCC is the nation’s largest and longest serving national nonprofit credit counseling organization. NFCC Members annually help over three million consumers through close to 800 community-based offices nationwide.

Jessica Horton is a former copywriter and community manager at MMI.