EDITOR'S NOTE: April is National Financial Literacy month, so we appreciate a local financial adviser and loan officer for sharing tips on how residents can reach their financial goals. We hope their advice will inspire you.
Here is advice from experts. In addition, you can read a non-expert's view: from home cooking to thrifting, here.
CRESTVIEW — Before you can reach a financial goal, you have to identify financial holes.
That is, unnecessary expenses that appear on monthly bank statements, said Yvonne Shanklin, a financial adviser at Edwards Jones in Crestview.
Planning a budget for regular purchases — like grocery store trips, for example — helps, she said.
"People need to be more money aware and have a reasonable allowance in mind," she said.
Derek Lott, president of CCB Community Bank in Crestview, agreed.
"It's the best thing to have," he said. Having a written, measurable budget would allow people to see how their money is spent, Lott said.
"Roughly 40 percent of your total income should go towards paying bills (or debt)," Lott said.
Cash is king
Instead of using a debit or credit card to pay for groceries, Shanklin suggests withdrawing a set amount of cash to purchase groceries.
The limited amount could help people save money, particularly if they eat less at restaurants, she said.
"Make eating out more of an (occasional) event, other than a just a standby option," she said.
Look for rewards
Looking for business' rewards or incentive programs, whether at gasoline stations, grocery stores or hotels, could help your bank account balance, according to Lott.
"With these incentive programs, you could save ... 5 to 10 percent (on monthly expenses)," he said.
Spending tax refunds wisely is another part of a healthy financial plan, Shanklin said.
Use the refund to pay off debt; after that, see if some of it can go toward retirement, she said. The earlier people begin saving for retirement the better.
Residents thinking about buying a home or vehicle should consider meeting with a financial adviser to review options, regarding mortgages or loans.
The expert advice could mean the difference between a realistic deal within the household's means or a financial burden.