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Fiscal health is just as important as physical

  • Published Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011, at 12:04 a.m.

One of the most common goals of a new year is to get physically fit, lose weight or to become healthier. But have you ever thought about your individual or your business's fiscal health?

Lots of organizations, the Kansas Credit Union Association included, conduct health challenges, but how many of you challenge your employees to save money, get out of debt or increase their wealth?

Being a fiscally fit person or business can reduce stress, increase your standard of living, make you happier and help you live longer.

According to a recent survey, 19 percent of consumers do not monitor their money. That's up from 8 percent in 2009. Another survey reports that one in five Americans live paycheck to paycheck and 30 percent have no savings. It's time to get fiscally fit.

The following tips can be used in your organization, as well as your very own household.

* Make goals, not resolutions: Your resolution may be to get out of debt, grow your savings or stick to a monthly budget. While these are excellent resolutions, each requires weekly or monthly goals that describes how you will obtain the resolution. Outlining your goals creates an action plan that can help you stay on track and achieve those resolutions.

* Be realistic: People whose goal is to lose weight don't start off losing 20 pounds the first week. It's unrealistic and unhealthy. Same goes for your budget. Start small. Can you eliminate one lunch out and save $10 a week? Can you trim $20 from your grocery bill or if you are a business, from your monthly office supply bill? Can you sell household or office items you don't need?

* Re-invest your money: Now that you are saving $10 a week, use that $10 to pay off other debt, save it, or start an emergency fund (if you don't already have one).

* Spend less than you earn: Sounds simple, but it is hard work. If you are trying to lose weight, you are told to burn more calories than you take in. Becoming fiscally fit is the opposite. You want to burn less than you bring in.

* Shop for the best price: Take a hard look at your financial institution. Are you getting the lowest rates possible on a loan? Are you happy with the service? Check around and make a switch if necessary. Do the same for your credit cards. You might find a card with a lower rate, saving you a few dollars each month.

* Involve your employees: If you are a manager or business owner, be mindful that your employees might have been hit hard by the financial crisis. Could you offer to pay for a financial literacy class? Bring an expert into the workplace for a money management seminar?

Remember, becoming fiscally fit is a long-term commitment, just as becoming healthier takes time and effort. By making a few changes to your financial plan, you will be well on your way to having a stronger, healthier financial future.

Marla Marsh is the president/CEO of the Kansas Credit Union Association. Interested in writing for "A Business Perspective"? Contact Dan Loving at 316-269-6706 or dloving@wichitaeagle.com.

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