Empower yourself. Strengthen your financial capability. Get the information you need to make financial decisions and take charge of your financial future.
April is National Financial Capability Month. It is a time, as President Obama has said, to help all Americans develop the financial capability to take control of their financial lives, gain financial security and attain the economic freedom to pursue their dreams.
The question is how to get there.
The answer begins with planning: setting goals, evaluating your current finances, and looking for ways to save more and pay down debt. Savings Fitness, a publication developed by the department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration and the Certified Financial Planner Board, can help. And with the addition of new, easy-to-use online worksheets, Savings Fitness makes taking control of your financial life as easy as clicking a mouse.
Savings Fitness uses six steps to empower you to get a good financial start and to follow for a secure financial future. And with each step, there is a worksheet to help you carry it out:
- Write down your goals. It’s easier to get there when you know where you are going.
- Organize your financial documents. Gather up and organize statements from your workplace retirement plan, loan documents, credit card statements, Social Security statement and free annual credit report.
- Calculate your net worth. Your net worth is the value of what you own (your assets) minus what you owe (your liabilities). If possible, aim for a positive net worth that grows each year.
- Estimate your target saving rate. Saving this amount each year will help you reach your retirement goals. And guess what? The sooner you start saving, the lower your target saving rate – another reason to start today.
- Make a cash flow spending plan or budget to figure out where your money is going and help you find more money to save.
- Keep track of your debt so you can plan how to pay down each debt and track your progress.
To help you make the most of these steps, EBSA is hosting a webcast with the CFP Board on April 23. You can register here. So gather your questions, your statements and your goals, and join us.
It is important to get started early, and to update your information as your financial life changes. Use National Financial Capability Month as a kick-off – and a reminder to check your progress each year. Financial literacy is a lifelong activity. Expand your financial capabilities today for a more secure tomorrow!
Phyllis C. Borzi is the assistant secretary of labor for employee benefits security.