2009-12-31 / Features

Will You Be Fiscally Fit In 2010?

The change from one year to the next presents the perfect opportunity to reassess our lives – where we’ve been, where we are and where we intend to go next. With signs the economy is slowly recovering, many people are likely to re-examine their financial health again as 2009 gives way to 2010.

How is your financial health? If you’re not sure where to begin in assessing your fiscal well-being, here’s a brief checklist you can review to generate some good ideas.

Item No. 1 - Know your credit score and what’s on your report.

The recession has probably changed forever how we access, use and monitor credit. With more companies and organizations – from potential employers and medical offices to mortgage companies and auto lenders – looking to credit scores and reports to get an idea of your reliability, checking your report more than once a year is extremely important.

More Americans are turning to Web sites like FreeCreditReport. com to enroll in credit monitoring products, like Triple Advantage, that allow them to gain instant access to their free credit report and score, and includes daily monitoring of their credit reports at the three credit reporting agencies. Members receive notification alerts if key changes are detected on any of their credit reports so they can take immediate action, if necessary.

Item No. 2 - Build your savings.

It’s been widely reported that Americans are saving more in an effort to build a financial safety net for themselves and their families. This is one trend it pays to follow. Depending on your level of debt and monthly expenses, you should have savings to cover three or four months worth of bills in the event that you lose your income, experts say. And with job searches stretching over many months while unemployment rates remain high, some experts are advising you should have savings in the bank to cover more than six months of living expenses.

Item No. 3 - Keep track of your identity through credit monitoring

Monitoring your credit report can help you spot some of the most common types of identity theft, including credit card and loan fraud. Web sites like Free- CreditReport.com allow you to enroll in a credit monitoring product that checks your credit report every day and alerts you right away if key changes are detected. If no new activity appears, you’ll receive an “all clear” notice every month. Monitoring allows you to spot suspicious or fraudulent activity, like the appearance of accounts you didn’t open or unpaid credit card charges you didn’t make.

With a little introspection and examination of your current finances, you can decide what steps you need to take to prepare to greet 2010 fiscally fit and financially confident.

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