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.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.
  • The National Council of Higher Education Resources (NCHER) is the nation’s oldest and largest higher education finance trade association. NCHER’s membership includes state, nonprofit, and for-profit higher education service organizations, including lenders, servicers, guaranty agencies, collection agencies, financial literacy providers, and schools, interested and involved in increasing college access and success. It assists its members in shaping policies governing federal and private student loan and state grant programs on behalf of students, parents, borrowers, and families.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.