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Scare Away Your Financial Boo-Boos

A ghost at a graveyard with text overlay "Scare Away Your Financial Boo-Boos" October 17, 2018

Scare Away Your Financial Boo-Boos

They’ve been there for years. Maybe you’ve noticed them, or maybe they’ve fallen so far behind your platform shoes circa 1980 (and who knows what else) that you’ve forgotten them entirely.

Either way, the financial skeletons in your closet are itching to be noticed. Here are a few you might have and how to get rid of them.

Too Much Treating Myself
My first job out of college paid well, and I rewarded myself for working hard. Now that I’m ready to buy a new car, though, I don’t have money for a sizable down payment. Plus, my trade-in won’t bring down the monthly payment enough to fit my budget.

There’s nothing wrong with spending a portion of your budget on fun things to reward yourself, but too much can hinder your ability to grow savings for the future. For starters, take a good look at where your money is going (eating out, entertainment, travel, etc.). Cutting down on these extraneous expenses can help you build a stronger foundation for a down payment, which could ultimately lower your monthly payment.

If you’re still not comfortable with what that number would be, other options for vehicles are available. For instance, leasing can sometimes mean lower payments because you’re able to customize a 24- or 36-month agreement according to your needs.

And to prevent getting in too deep in the future, write down everything you spend money on or download an app that will help you track your purchases. Creating a budget (and sticking to it) will only make buying a new car that much simpler. Knowing where your money is going and being able to see it will keep you accountable and ensure you’re making the most of your finances.

Haunting Financial Past
When I was younger, I took advantage of any and all deals I could get my hands on. If saving 5% on my purchase was an incentive to get a store card, I signed up. Years later, my credit score is lower than I'd like because I missed payments on a retail card I forgot I had.

While there’s no one specific action that will magically transform your credit score, here are three steps you can take to impact it.

  1. Check for accuracy. Visit annualcreditreport.com to get one free credit report per year from each of the three credit bureaus and report any errors.
  2. Manage your debt. Make paying off debt a priority. Your credit report can help you identify your accounts and the amount owed.
  3. Build credit responsibly. Your credit is an important factor in lending decisions. Be sure to build and manage it carefully.
     

Committed to Debt
I recently moved in with my fiancé, which has led to a lot of conversations about finances.  Turns out, my fiancé has more than a little debt and hasn’t come up with a plan to reduce it.

While getting into a serious relationship is exciting, finances are something each person brings to the table, good and bad. Whether you’ve just moved in together, are budgeting as newlyweds or are simply talking about money for the first time, it can be a challenge for any couple.

Compare notes on spending habits and see what changes can be made. Now that you live together, there’s no reason to have two of everything. A lot of memberships to gyms and streaming services allow you to have multiple users on one account. Also, get real about your income and fixed expenses to really delve into what can be cut down or eliminated.

For the Future
No matter what financial skeletons lie in the depths of your closet, there’s something you can do to start rebuilding and correcting your mistakes now that you’ll be grateful for in the future.

By Allison Scott, GM Financial

GM Financial's Allison Scott is committed to steering people in the right financial direction. When she's not shifting gears at work, you can find her listening to John Mayer, cracking "dad jokes" or watching the Dallas Stars.

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