1) Live Within Your Means. By nearly 2-to-1, this was the top choice among financial planners and advisors. Spending less than you earn and living within your income allowance is the best way to ensure you meet your financial goals.
2) Protect Yourself with Adequate Insurance. Ensure your financial security by having adequate insurance coverage in place for health, disability, long-term care, auto, homeowners' and renters' to protect yourself and your assets.
3) Tackle Debt. If you are burdened with a lot of debt, now is the time to honestly assess how much you owe and establish a payoff plan. Immediately stop running up new charges, cut expenses, and prioritize your debt by paying off the highest interest rate accounts first, then applying extra money to the next account when paid off.
4) Build an Emergency Savings Account. Prepare for the unexpected by having this important reserve. Keep this account separate from your other savings and aim for three to six months of living expenses. Starting with a small reasonable goal—as little as $500—will help springboard you toward this goal. Your 2013 tax refund may provide a great way to start.What is your Financial Four? Complete your own bracket at www.financialfour.org. And prioritizing your financial goals is just the first step. For resources, tools and encouragement on successfully managing your finances, visit www.smartaboutmoney.org. Do you need a financial planner? Visit FPA PlannerSearch to connect with highly qualified CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals from the Financial Planning Association. About the Financial Four The Financial Four, a joint project of the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) and the Financial Planning Association (FPA), is designed to help people identify their top financial priorities. The interactive bracket allows users to rank each topic until they advance their selections to the top choice. To complete the bracket online, visit www.financialfour.org. About the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) NEFE is a nonprofit foundation that inspires empowered financial decision making for individuals and families through every stage of life. For more information, visit www.nefe.org. About the Financial Planning Association (FPA) The FPA is the largest membership organization for CFP® professionals in the U.S. and includes those from all backgrounds and business models. FPA members adhere to the highest standards of professional competence, ethical conduct and clear, complete disclosure to those they serve. Based in Denver, Colo., FPA works in alliance with academic leaders, legislative and regulatory bodies, financial services firms and consumer interest organizations. For more information about FPA, visit www.FPAnet.org. SOURCE National Endowment for Financial Education