Steps For Gaining Financial Wellness

Purchasing Power understands the importance of reducing financial stress, so we've partnered with leading financial experts to share their knowledge of personal and household budgeting through thought-provoking articles. Our intention is to provide you with practical tips on how to improve your credit score and provide advice for taking control of your financial future.

How to Calculate and Improve Your Credit Score

Your credit score is one of the most important measures of your creditworthiness. Commonly known as the FICO® score, it is most commonly used by lenders to determine the risk involved in a particular loan. Most credit scores operate within the range of 300 to 850. The higher your score is, the less risky you are to lenders. Knowing what impacts your credit score can help you take steps to improve your credit score. Here are the five factors that determine your FICO® credit score:

8 Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget

Too few people are saving money. A recent survey found that 62% of Americans have less than $1,000 dollars in their savings account - if they have any savings at all. While most people would like to set aside money each month, a tight budget can make this seem like an impossible task. If you fall into this category, here are eight practical ways to start saving regularly.

How to Achieve Financial Stability in 5 Steps

If you are like most people, you are probably worried about your finances for one reason or another. Bad money habits and poor decision making can lead to poor financial health over time. But fear not, here are five simple steps you can take now to achieve financial stability.

5 Financial Resolutions For The New Year
Use Financial Wellness Month (January) to start the year off right. In this exercise will put your pen to paper and make some financial resolutions for 2016. If there is a specific area in your finances that you want to focus on, then that's a great place to start. In addition to any specific resolutions that you have identified based upon your own personal circumstances, here are five areas that you'll want to focus on.

Save on Computers & Back to School Supplies with 2015 State Sales Tax Holidays
This year, 16 states are offerings sales tax free holidays in late July-early August for parents to save on back-to-school supplies. Eight states also offer the opportunity to purchase computers sales tax free! These holidays are a great opportunity to save 6-8%, which is the the usual states sales tax paid on these items. Some states impose limits on the maximum purchase at any one time, so we’ve included a link to each state’s revenue department for additional details.

6 Tips To Manage 2015 Back-To-School Costs
Last year parents faced 20% cost increases to send their K-12 students back to school in fall. This year, parents are expected to face similar increases. Using the reputable 2014 Huntington Backpack Index as a guide, here's what parents should be prepared to pay for 2015.

Tax Planning For Next Year - What To Keep, What Can Go

While its common to have gone paperless for banking and utility bills, somehow we still manage to keep accumulating receipts, bills, tax forms, and other financial documents. To ensure you have the correct paperwork saved to compile your tax return next year, we’ve created this guide so you know what should be kept and what can be shredded – and when.

Cheap upgrades to boost the value of your home

A home is the largest investment most people will ever make. It therefore stands to reason that maintaining your investment will ensure that your home holds its value. Whether you are sprucing up your house to sell, investing your tax return in some overdue home repairs, or giving your home a fresh new look, here are some inexpensive upgrades that will boost the value of your home.

Easy Ways to Go Green (And Save Some Green!)

This planet of ours certainly has a lot to give, and Earth Day is one of the best opportunities to give back. Living a more eco-friendly lifestyle is not only good for the environment – it can be good for your wallet, too! Here's four of our favorite ways to go green while saving some green.

Address Financial Stress and Improve Your Health

We can all get a little frazzled from time to time, and now there’s an entire month dedicated to stress management and understanding. April is National Stress Awareness Month, so we’re calling attention to the negative effects of financial stress in hopes that others can take a step toward improving their physical health by becoming more financially fit.

Financial Literacy Month Resources for the Family

April is designated Financial Literacy Month, which makes it a great time to improve the financial literacy of the entire family. Check out this bank of resources to put your family on a path to financial freedom. 

5 Ways to Avoid Being Financially Foolish

April Fool’s is a day for tricks and surprises, but when it comes to your money, a mismanaged wallet is certainly no laughing matter! In honor of the holiday dedicated to pranksters, we’ve shared five ways to avoid being a “fool” with your finances.

10 Ways to Wisely Spend Your Tax Refund

While it may be tempting to take a tropical vacation or put a downpayment on a shiny new car, there are many other ways to use your refund that can improve your long-term financial stability. Take a look at our list of ten ways to wisely spend your tax refund.

Tips for Spring Cleaning Your Finances

This year, as you coax the dust bunnies from beneath the sofa and give your appliances the ol’ scrub-down, it might be a good idea to do some spring cleaning on your finances, too. Maybe tax season brought some surprises, or your checkbook is starting to look a little out-of-whack – whatever the case may be, use our tips to get your money back in order.

Five Reasons to Earn a Degree Online

Distance education programs are changing the way students everywhere are taking classes. Once requiring hours of time in the classroom, coursework can now be completed from the comfort of your own home. In honor of Digital Learning Day, we’ve compiled five of the best benefits to completing your education online.

How to protect your data and identity while banking and shopping online

Large-scale security breaches are becoming more and more common. As a consumer, it’s important to know how to protect yourself in the event that your information is compromised; and to also learn to keep your own records as secure as possible. We’ve compiled a few of our best tips to help keep your information safe and protected.

How to Save for your Summer Vacation

Has the recent cold weather fueled dreams of sandy beaches, abundant sunshine and warm summer days? Although there’s still some time before we’re released from winter’s harsh grasp, you can begin turning those dreams into reality by starting a vacation fund for the summer days ahead. Use our advice to save enough funds to have the vacation you really want.

Continue Your Education - 4 Tips for SAT Preparation

If you or your child will be tackling the SAT this year, we have four tips to help you to successfully prepare for the SAT.

3 Ways to Combine Finances with Your Partner

Combining finances with your partner is a big step in a relationship. Whether you merge 100% or agree to leave some things separate, there’s a lot of thought, effort and responsibility accompanied by sharing money matters. To start the conversation, we’ve broken down three of the most common ways to split your finances.

Tax Return Preparation Checklist

We’ve put together a tax preparation checklist so you know which documents to gather in advance to simplify your filing for tax year 2014. No matter if you handle everything yourself or obtain professional assistance, this guide will get you prepared for a faster and more accurate online tax filing or meeting with your accountant.

Why You Should Invest In Career Training and Continuing Education

Ever heard the saying that “investing in yourself is the best investment you will ever make?” It’s true! Resolving to improve your work skills and develop yourself professionally is a goal that will continue to pay off throughout your lifetime.

5 Steps To Develop Your Financial Education

Educating yourself on personal finance is a big step in achieving financial wellness and has the potential to save you a great deal of money over your lifetime. Use our five practical steps to learn the essentials so you can make smarter financial decisions and improve your overall financial stability.

6 Tips to Organize your Finances in 2015

January is Get Organized Month, which makes it the perfect time to organize your finances so you stand a better chance of achieving the financial goals you set yourself for 2015. Use these tips to ensure your funds are free of clutter and dust bunnies – and that you can reach your goals just as planned.

Celebrate National Cut Your Energy Costs Day

If you resolved to spend less and save more in 2015, cutting back on a few regular expenses is a great place to start. January 10 is National Cut Your Energy Costs Day, so we’ve rounded up a few of our best savings tips to help trim your utility bills without being forced to make major lifestyle changes.

Resolve to Get Financially Fit in 2015

A brand new year is quickly approaching, and if you are still pondering what goals you’ll set for yourself this year, you won’t go wrong with a New Year’s financial resolution. Here are a few tips to help you get financially fit in 2015,

5 Ideas for Creating a Fun Holiday Bash on a Budget

The holidays can be a taxing time for your budget, but that doesn’t mean you should skip the merry festivities. A holiday gathering with friends can be just what you need to relieve some of that end-of-year stress, so follow our tips for putting on a fun holiday bash on a budget.

Frugal Holiday Gift-Giving Guide

The holiday shopping season is in full swing, but if you’re like most people, you still have some work to do on that long list of Christmas gifts. While the holiday season can get pricy, there are ways to cut down your costs and leave a little extra dough in your wallet once the gifting season is done.

4 Simple Ways to Reduce Winter Energy Bills

Many Americans feel overwhelmed by their utility costs each winter. However, there are easy ways to reduce the impact when the temperature drops. Here are four practical tips for reducing your utility bills this season.

Prepare for Holiday Spending: Sensible Planning Now for Black Friday Madness

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by holiday shopping, but creating a reasonable budget and an action plan will help keep your gifting troubles at bay.

Tips for Cutting Your Household Grocery Bill

An essential piece of every budget is the portion set aside for groceries. It’s a cost we truly can’t live without; but many Americans find their food expenses are becoming more and more cumbersome. Here are a few tips to make your next trip to the supermarket less expensive and more healthier.

What’s the Difference Between Credit Unions and Banks?

While booth banks and credit unions boast their own set of benefits, there are rather prominent differences between the two. This article provides an overview of both options.

A Scary Future Without Savings

As fun as Halloween may be, this frightful time can serve as a reminder that your future may look a little “scary” without some savings stashed away. Learn why you should start to save now so your future holds more treats and less tricks!

Being Smart About Finances Is Cool

While the kids are celebrating "Smart is Cool Day" at school, we're extending the festivities to adults because it's important to be smart about your finances at all stages of life.

Celebrate “Get Smart About Credit Day”

Throughout the month of October, thousands of bankers will meet with adolescents across the country in celebration of Get Smart About Credit Day to learn about the importance of responsible credit usage and the impact that credit can have on their financial future. It’s also a good reminder for all of us to brush up on our knowledge and take a second look at our own credit history.

Good Debt vs. Bad Debt
Despite its negative connotation, did you know that some debt is actually good? This article can help you to analyze you debts, so you can start making small changes to the way you think about your debt, and get started on the path to a healthier credit score.

Fall Into Good Financial Habits

While many of us continually strive to make positive changes in our lives, it’s all too easy to return to the very habits we were trying to overcome. This is a great time to reevaluate where you are now and where you’d like to be. It’s also a good opportunity to de-clutter your life, both literally and figuratively.

How To Pay Down Debt Using the Snowball and Avalanche Methods
No matter the kinds of debt you may be carrying, the key to becoming debt-free is creating a realistic repayment plan. Different strategies work better for some folks, so we've evaluated the snowball and avalanche methods for paying down debt.

Fall into College Savings with a 529 Plan

September is College Savings Month. Learn why over 40 states have joined together with the College Savings Plans Network to promote the use of 529 plans for simple, affordable college savings for families across the country.

Why you should return to college to get ahead in your career

You work full-time, you have a family to take care of, you are saving or already putting your children through school....It is easy to find an excuse as to why you have not returned to college to complete your degree, but can you really afford not to? Here's why you should return to college to complete your tertiary education.

Save on Computers & Back to School Supplies with State Sales Tax Holidays

This year, 16 states are offerings sales tax free holidays in August for parents to save on school supplies. Eight states even offer the opportunity to purchase computers sales tax free! See if your state is participating and what you can save.

How Do Your Priorities Align With Other Americans?

Was one of your goals for 2014 to improve the state of your personal finances, increase the balance on your savings account, or to create a financial plan? If so, you’re not alone.

How to Pay Off Your Credit Card, Student Loan and Mortgage Faster

Learn how you can pay off credit card debt, student loans, and even your mortgage faster – and save money in interest - by making biweekly rather than monthly payments.

7 Steps to Achieving Financial Independence

Do you dream of an early retirement? Practicing your hobby full-time without the concern of earning a livable income? Volunteering for a non-profit whose cause you are passionate about helping? You’ll need financial independence to make the dream a reality, so we’re declaring tomorrow Financial Independence Day to see what it takes to get there!

4 Tips For Merging Finances Before You Say ‘I Do’
While it may not make for romantic pillow talk, couples preparing to live together or get married need to consider these four steps when it comes to merging their finances and planning for a financially secure future.

What's the best financial advice your Dad ever gave you?
In honor of Father's Day, the Purchasing Power team was asked to share the financial wisdom from their own fathers. We received some great advice, and look forward to receiving your father’s advice, too - on Facebook.

Barriers To Change: Addressing 6 Reasons You Are Unable To Save

We all have financial demons that lurk in our subconscious and get in the way of making smarter money decisions. So, why aren’t you saving enough? The key to taking the path to financial success lies in your ability to understand and confront the truth behind your excuse for not saving. It’s then a matter of taking a few simple steps to break the cycle. We discuss six reasons you’re not saving enough and what you can do to change it.

Are You Game for the Spending Freeze Challenge?

A spending freeze is similar to the Atkins diet, except instead of cutting carbs, you’ll cut out all non-essentials. Money is only to be spent on what it takes to keep the roof over your head, the utilities on and food on the table. The cash you will save goes towards debt repayment, increasing your emergency or savings account, or summer vacation without increasing your credit card debt.

4 Ways to Establish an Emergency Fund

Even with the best intentions, life rarely goes according to plan. When Murphy’s Law strikes, it can be a stressful time for you, your family, and your bank account. We discuss four ways to establish an emergency fund so you’re financially prepared for the curveballs that life sends your way, and less likely to turn to high interest credit cards and loans to bail you out.

Preparing Your Adult Child to Move Out of Mom and Dad’s House

With graduation just around the corner, many parents are facing the prospect of preparing their adult child to live independently. While many graduates move back in with their parents for a year or two while they get established in a job, the question still remains, “How do I prepare my child to move out of home?” Here are four tips to prepare your adult child to take their first steps towards being truly independent.

Eco-Friendly Tips To Reduce Your Utility Bills

Did you know there are actions you can take that will not only contribute to the environment, but will also have a positive impact on your wallet? With a few slight adjustments, you can make a real difference on your utility bills, and lead a more eco-friendly lifestyle if you follow these tips.

Simple Ways to Save for Your Summer Vacation
With summer just around the corner, now is the time to make your vacation dreams become a reality. With a solid plan and some savvy shopping, here's how you can take a family vacation this summer.

Save or Splurge? How to Responsibly Spend Your Tax Refund
If you are one of the millions who has received, or anticipates receiving a refund this year, how you spend your refund can impact your short-term and long-term financial goals. Here are three tips for sensibly spending your tax refund, and still getting the splurge you deserve.

Time To Spring Clean Your Finances

April is Financial Literacy Month. It’s also spring and tax time, which makes it a suitable time to do some financial spring cleaning. Over the month, aim to walk through these five steps to de-clutter that pile of household bills and plant the seeds for a greener financial future.

6 Steps To Better Understanding Your Credit

Learn six practical ways to help improve your credit score.

How To Create A Spending Plan

Learn the benefits of having a spending plan and receive practical advice to calculate your spending plan.

Five Tips To Spend Less and Save More in 2014

Apply at least one of these five practical tips to see your savings account increase.