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If you don’t have a financial plan yet, you’re not alone: Two-thirds of Americans don’t have a financial plan. But no matter what your money personality, creating a plan is essential if you want to be financially healthy. And the sooner you have one, the better off you will be for the long-run. Seriously: Do NOT put this off.

In that plan, you’ll need to cover three basic things in order to put you on the right path to financial wellness:

1. Creating a budget
You need to know where your money is going. Budgeting is the simple, intentional movement and dedication of your money. Fortunately, there are many online tools (like this one) available to help guide you through the process.

2. Eliminating debt
The average American household with credit cards has roughly $15,983 in credit card debt, and the average household with student debt owes roughly $49,000. (And that’s not including mortgages.) Paying off debt may seem daunting, especially when working with a small budget, but once you see balances fall and discover how much money you save from interest fees, you will be hooked! Need help determining what to tackle first? Use this debt calculator from

The average American household with credit cards has roughly $15,983 in credit card debt, and the average household with student debt owes roughly $49,000.

3. Establishing an emergency savings account
Among the 78% of Americans living paycheck-to-paycheck, every unplanned expense becomes a crisis – and when there is no money to cover the emergencies, you will be tempted to borrow on credit. That can begin a vicious cycle, which is tough to escape if you’re not disciplined and intentional. An emergency savings account is just that: An account set up for unexpected expenses like car issues, job loss, appliance breakdown, accidents, and more. In general, experts advise keeping enough in emergency savings to cover a minimum of three months of expenses, and six months to be extra safe. It’s important to note that this is not an account for planned expenses like car maintenance or house upgrades; it is for true emergencies. 


On creating a budget
My new money goal worksheet (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau)
My spending rule to live by (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau)
Not sure how to handle your finances and student aid (grants, scholarships, loans, work-study) while you’re in school? (Office of Federal Student Aid)
The 8 best budgeting apps to download in 2018 (The Balance)
8 best personal finance apps (Investopedia)

On eliminating debt
Easy-to-remember guidelines help people reduce credit card debt (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau)
How to get a handle on debt (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau)
Debt payoff calculator (

The content on provides general information and does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial, or investment advice. You are encouraged to consult with competent legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professionals based on your specific circumstances. We do not make any warranties as to accuracy or completeness of this information; do not endorse any third-party companies, products, or services described here; and take no liability for your use of this information.

© Georgia Center for Nonprofits 2019

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