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Gov. Deval Patrick has proclaimed October Financial Education Month (Download Financial Education Month Proclamation 10.09), which puts the spotlight on an important issue for families across Massachusetts. While the current economic environment may not be conducive to long-term planning for many households, it is always vital to be well-informed about your state of affairs and take steps to strengthen your financial status.

The Patrick Administration has been involved in a number of efforts to promote financial education. A number of agencies have played a role in the creation of the Massachusetts Financial Education Collaborative, which is working to create a strong network of teachers and programming to spread information throughout Massachusetts. That work includes the Financial Education Summit on Oct. 28. Our Office has created Project Credit Smarts, which aims to provide information about credit cards and general credit and debt issues to college students. This is an effort to make sure students know the ins and outs of having a credit card and avoiding potential debt issues down the road.

If you want to take stock of your financial situation, and perhaps strengthen your status, consider these ideas this month:

• Create a budget and stick to it
• Open a savings account and make weekly or monthly deposits
• Establish an emergency fund
• Balance your checkbook
• Pay off a credit card
• Plan your holiday spending budget
• Review your insurance coverage
• Evaluate your employee benefits, and prepare for upcoming open enrollment periods

Hopefully, with some planning and good decision-making, you can come out of Financial Education Month better off money-wise than when it started. Good luck!

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