Tips on how to improve your financial behavior

Tips on how to improve your financial behavior

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by ANN SHERIDAN / NBC Charlotte Staff

Bio | Email | Follow: @SheridanWCNC

WCNC.com

Posted on March 26, 2013 at 7:24 AM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 26 at 7:41 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. --  What would you rather do?   Visit a dentist or look at your finances? 

A new study by PNC Wealth Management says 8 out of  10 of us would rather go to the dentist.

Why? 

NBC Charlotte is looking out for you and we ran some numbers, a scenario that might explain why saving can become so daunting.

First, looking at a family with an average income of $72,000  a year.   After taking out a $1,400 mortgage, a $300 car payment and groceries, utilities and childcare of $2,000, this family still has one big payment to consider.  A credit card debt of $7,500, the national average that most people carry in credit.  

It leaves this family with about $500 in discretionary income.

NBC Charlotte took our numbers to Financial Planner Mike York, of PNC Wealth Management.

"Even if it's doing it yourself on a piece of paper and  keeping  it in your personal file, you need a financial plan, said York.
 
The mistake most people make?

“They  think that hope is a reliable strategy. Hope is not a reliable strategy,” he said.
 
Using our numbers, York suggested our imaginary couple should  pay off credit card debt first.  It would take the remainder of 2013 and all of 2014. 

Then, he believes most of us should use extra income  for retirement,  But York admits this  becomes a personal and emotional decision. 

Many couples, he says, opt to put money and savings into a college fund for their children.

“We do plan to retire someday,” said Robin Dumont.
 
Robin and her husband Chris are doing what many consider the unthinkable.  They are planning their financial future.  And they’re getting started early, the advice all financial planners suggest.
 
“We want to be self sufficient,” said Chris Dumont.
 
The couple married in 2010 and spend money on travelling and visiting family.  But it was the birth of their now four-month old son, Austin, who changed how they think.
 
“We want to give him all the opportunities.  We don't want him to miss anything,” said his mom.

“It was much more about what little things I can do to create a bigger back end for him and for us,” said Dad Chris Dumont.

They admit starting early,  having two incomes, and no serious health issues, have given them flexibility in savings that many people can’t consider. 

York says there are several things all of us should do, no matter what our income.

First, he recommends taking the maximum 401K contribution your company allows.  He calls those matching funds “free money.”

Second, he says most families should generally take all allowed IRA contributions.

Third, he says pay off debt, and meet with a financial planner.  If that idea still scares you, York says,  at the very least, have your own financial plan in writing, and refer to it often
 

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