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Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson knows many of you want to pay off debt and improve your financial situation in 2014. Many Hoosiers’ New Year’s resolutions involve money, and there’s no time like the present to get started.

Over the next few weeks, as part of her focus on financial literacy, Secretary Lawson will take to Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest to share helpful tips for starting a budget, paying off debt, and saving for the future.

Secretary Lawson’s Top Tips for 2014

  • Create a budget and prioritize it! Cutting unnecessary expenses will allow you to pay off debt and build a bigger nest egg. Plus, understanding how your money is being used can lead to more responsible decision-making.
  • Try to negotiate lower interest rates with creditors. If you’re in good standing with the creditor, it’s possible they will give you a better rate and make it easier for you to pay back what you owe. There’s no harm in asking.
  • After paying off a credit card, consider keeping it open! Your credit score is partially determined by how much credit you have, and how much of that credit you are using. It’s called credit utilization. If you have a lot of credit, but are only using a small amount, your score will go up. Closing a card will lower your amount of available credit and potentially lower your score.
  • The new year is a good time to check on your credit report. You’re entitled to one free credit report every twelve months from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. The official website to order these credit reports iswww.AnnualCreditReport.com. We recommend you bookmark that site. Go over your credit reports carefully. Mistakes happen! 

Secretary Lawson says, “The most effective form of investor protection is investor education.” Her office teaches Hoosiers about investment fraud and financial literacy through Indiana Investment Watch. The education program is not funded by taxpayers, but with fines imposed on violators of securities laws. Indiana Investment Watch has educational materials covering the various types of fraud, as well as general financial literacy tools. Workshops and outreach events held throughout the state provide more in-depth information on detecting and avoiding scams. For more information, visit www.IndianaInvestmentWatch.com.

Tackling Your Finances in 2014 Guide