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Financial Awareness: How to Move Toward Your Financial Goals

By Gwen Hartstein, NYLAG financial counselor  

August 14th was National Financial Awareness Day: a holiday dedicated to developing the financial know-how and practices that build a solid foundation for your financial future. Some ways to start building a strong financial foundation are to create plans, draft goals, or start putting into motion the plans you have already created to manage your finances effectively. If this is your first time doing this, do not worry, we are here to help answer some common questions and start your financial planning today.  

Why does financial awareness matter? 

Often, people think that the only way to achieve financial stability and freedom is by making more money. Sadly, at NYLAG we have worked with many people who make a lot of money but have no savings or a lot of debt. What is missing there? When it comes to being financially stable, it’s important to understand that sometimes a change in our mindset about money may be what’s needed to see real change. Here are a few points to consider: 

1. It sounds contradictory, but financial awareness is about more than just finances. Taking control of your finances requires much more than counting dollars and cents: it requires developing a new mindset, new systems, and new habits. Once you figure out a new healthy way to think about money, you’ll be able to succeed in your financial wellbeing. 

  • Tip: MyMoney.gov has a list of five principles to consider for managing and growing your money   

2. None of us knows everything. There’s always something new to learn when it comes to personal finance. Don’t get too comfortable. Be open to learning and experimenting! 

3. Getting by just to survive is harder than learning and applying new financial knowledge. We want you to thrive, not just survive and get by. Knowing the basics of personal finance sets you up to take full advantage of what’s out there to build and strengthen your finances and your future. 

4. Small mistakes can have long-term costs. When learning to manage your finances, mistakes will be made. That’s okay. The goal is to minimize them and learn from them. But be mindful that some mistakes–like falling into credit card debt or missing your debt payments–can have far-reaching consequences.  

5. It’s never too late. No matter where your finances are, you can always start your journey towards financial success. Take little steps daily to get back on track.  

Remember that money is a tool you use in your life; money is not your life. 

What should I do first to start meeting my financial goals?  

To take steps toward a solid financial future, start moving in any direction that supports your goals. The month of August is a great time to get our finances in order, and this Financial Awareness Day is a reminder that we can always seek out information, resources, and assistance in dealing with difficult financial issues. Here are a few ideas for how to get started: 

  • Consider where you are housing your money. Do you have a checking and savings account? 
  • Review your credit report and address any discrepancies. Is your credit in good standing? 
  • Create a budget for your current income and expenses. How are you managing your day-to-day spending? 
  • Create both an emergency savings plan and a general savings plan. Are you prepared for an unexpected expense without relying on credit cards? 

Still have questions?

NYLAG Financial Counselors help you create a plan to secure a financially stable future. 

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