Learn on to Better Manage Your Money during National Financial Wellness Month

What better time to tackle your holiday debt than to start taking a more proactive role during National Financial Wellness Month. It is not a coincidence that this month-long holiday follows the Christmas spending season as January is usually the time when Americans realize that they have financially overextended themselves. All month long consumers take time out of their busy schedule to make sure that their finances are in good standing.

Ways to Better Manage Your Money

• Keep track of your holiday bills and after the holidays, immediately start tackling them one by one. Spend the month of January cleaning up last year’s holiday debt, while setting the stage to be more fiscally responsible this year.

• No matter how scary it may seem, you will want to check your credit report, credit card statements, and bank statements from your November and December to make sure that all of the information is correct. This will help you to not only know how much you spent this past holiday season, but it can also help you detect of you are a victim of identity fraud. Keep in mind that the top three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) give you one free credit report a year. Take advantage of that.

• Create a realistic and reasonable plan that will help you stay on track for your upcoming monthly bills, while allowing you to pay on the debts that you created during the 2013 holiday season. It is very important to not only understand how you spend your money, but how much money actually comes into your pocket.

• Prioritize your expenses. It’s perfectly normal to have a list of expenses that is larger than your income. You just have to determine which expense is the most important to pay. Make sure that you include putting money in your savings account at the top of your list of expenses.

• Create organization among your bill and debts. You can easily be overwhelmed with the stacks of bills, pay stubs, bank statements, insurance notices, and other paperwork. But you can only gain clarity to your existing financial situation by taming your paperwork to avoid missing payments or getting charges late fees.

• Prepare for income tax time. Begin organizing all of your receipts, bills, expenses, donations, and other potential deduction so they won’t be forgotten about.

Following these simple guidelines can lead you on the right track to finally behind financially successful during 2014.

Jessica Williams is Consolidated Credit’s Marketing Communications New Media Coordinator. As a member of the education team, Jessica focuses on helping consumers make better financial decisions while living debt-free. She has previously worked with Take Stock In Children, where she was a mentor and communications specialist, and SouthPromo.com, where she managed community relations, event planning, marketing, and public relations. Jessica attended both the University of Florida and the University of Central Florida where she received her B.S. in Interpersonal/Organizational Communications and Marketing. Connect with Jessica on Google+.