By Mike Rothman and Darryl Dahlheimer
According to the 2012 Financial Capability study, a majority of adults do not have adequate savings in the event of a financial emergency or to meet long-term goals such as college or financial security in retirement. The Minnesota Department of Commerce is providing tips to Minnesotans to help them protect their finances and gain control of their money.
“Financial products are becoming more complex, making financial decisions that much harder for consumers,” said Commissioner Mike Rothman. “The Commerce Department is here to help Minnesotans make smart decisions for a secure financial life.”
Commissioner Rothman is launching a financial literacy blog, “Commerce Sense,” that will feature tips and guidance on financial literacy and highlight scams and pitfalls to avoid. Darryl Dahlheimer, a program director for Lutheran Social Services Financial Counseling, joins Commissioner Rothman in offering the top five tips to help Minnesotans concerning their finances.
Don’t be afraid to start small
It is possible to save — no matter how little you think your income is or how many expenses you have. Start with a savings plan and pay yourself first. Set up a direct deposit account for your paycheck — if you don’t see, it you won’t spend it.
Insurance as asset protection
With appropriate coverage, insurance can protect your property and finances from accidents and unexpected illness. If you rent, don’t assume that your landlord’s insurance will protect against loss. Don’t take the risk. Protect your personal property by getting a renter’s insurance policy.
You can go to the Commerce Department website for guidance on insurance for every stage of life.
Budgeting to create savings
One defense against a busted budget is to factor in periodic expenses that don’t occur monthly, like holiday gifts or car repairs. If you save a little each month in anticipation of these purchases, you won’t be strapped to cover monthly expenses. Visit the Commerce Department website for financial literacy tips to start saving and budgeting.
Make a plan for reducing your debt. Pay more than the minimum pay balance on credit cards to pay it off faster, and prioritize your debt repayment. It’s important to pay secured debt first such as home mortgages or car loans, so you can avoid foreclosure or repossession.
If you are in debt and need help, the Commerce Department offers guidance in selecting credit counseling services.
Don’t let scams or fraud stand in the way of financial security. Remember — if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Report the fraud, so that others do not fall victim. If you think you have been a victim of a scam or fraud, contact the Consumer Response Team at 651-539-1600 or 800-657-3602.
Complaints can also be sent by email to [email protected] or by mail to Minnesota Department of Commerce, 85 7th Place East, Suite 500, Saint Paul, MN 55101.
Information provided by the Minnesota Department of Commerce. For more information, visit the department’s website at https://mn.gov/com merce/