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April is Financial Literacy Month and the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation is offering tips on how to establish and maintain healthy financial habits.

Getting your finances in order can be overwhelming, and many consumers struggle with knowing where to start. Luckily, there are a variety of options for those looking to manage their money habits. Our office offers the following tips to help you get your financial house in order:

  • Establish a budget. Take a look at where your money has been going in recent months. Identify and understand your spending habits and spot any problem areas or unnecessary spending. Once you have created a budget, stick to it.
  • Set some money aside. Evaluate your cash flow and decide how much you can save. It’s a good idea to establish an emergency fund or start saving early for a big item like a down payment on a house or car. Look into the options your bank has for savings plans.
  • Find tools that can help with your budget. Some websites offer free personal budgeting spreadsheet, while various apps make it easy to keep track of your purchases and manage your money from a smartphone or tablet. Research your choices and find the one that works for you.

Make sure that you are aware of your credit and debt obligations, and manage them accordingly.

  • Get the facts. Check that the basic information listed on your credit report is accurate, including your name, address and credit accounts.
  • Identify your current interest rates. Consider transferring debt off a high-interest card to one with a lower interest rate.
  • Change your behavior. Identify spending problem areas and make a plan for improvement. Create a payment plan to reduce your balances and set small goals and larger milestones for improving your credit. Monitor the change.
  • Keep up-to-date. Make sure you are continually checking your credit and credit report information.

If you are considering hiring a financial planner, make sure you shop around. Be wary of potential scams associated with phony financial planners and tax preparers.

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for all Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s Lemon Laws, data breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Program and the state’s Do Not Call Registry.

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