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Tips on dealing with debt, stretching your dollars

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Happy New Year!

I hope you had a relaxing, enjoyable holiday.  It is hard to believe that it is 2014. Where does the time go? We invite you to join us at the Carroll County Exten-sion office this coming year as we have many special programs planned for your enjoyment, enrichment and to answer some of your needs and concerns. We also are rebuilding our 4-H program under the strong leadership of our new 4-H agent, Joyce Doyle. Please stop in to check these out or, if you have children in school, they may have already met her and brought home information about some of her programs. We look forward to seeing you!

 

Dealing with the holiday financial hangover

I received this information from our University of Kentucky Extension Specialist for Family Financial Management and am sharing it with you. If you have some holiday expenses yet to pay, this will provide some good suggestions.

Many people overindulge in a variety of ways during the holiday season. Unfortunately, this may also include spending more on holiday gifts, entertainment and travel than originally budgeted. During the first few months of this new year, the credit card bills and expenses will begin to roll-in from holiday spending. The longer the debt hangs around, the more the holidays will cost you in interest fees.

The first step is to reduce your spending and apply the extra money toward paying off your credit cards. Track your spending for a week by writing down when and where you are spending your money. This will make it easier to find ways to reduce your expenses.

If you have holiday debts on multiple credit cards, develop a payment plan. Either work toward paying off the highest interest rate card first or pay-off the smallest debt first and working your way to the largest.

Make a plan now for next year. Once you have paid off your holiday debts, put that extra money aside every month into a special savings account. Then, next year for the holidays, instead of using your credit cards, use the money you have already saved.

 

Making your money go further

Do you ever wonder where your money goes at the end of the month?  Understanding how and where you spend your money is a good way to start the new year and can be important for financial success, especially in tough economic times. There are several key steps you can take to stretch your money a little further each month.

• Get organized — keep all of your bills and important financial papers in one place.

• Track your spending for one month by writing down all of your expenses.

• Identify your total monthly take-home income.

• Develop a plan on paper for how to spend your money each month.

• For big expenses, such as car insurance, vacations or holidays, you may want to set aside a little each month so that you are prepared when these events occur.

• After two to three months, evaluate your spending plan; are you overspending in any certain category? If so, redo your plan to more accurately reflect your spending habits.

 

• Keep working at your spending plan until you find a combination that works with the needs of your family

 

Grace Angotti is Carroll Co. Extension agent for family and consumer sciences. Call her at (502) 732-7030 or send e-mail to gangotti@uky.edu.