Marcia's Blog

The doctor is in: A prescription to keep your finances healthy

Few people would argue with the fact that if you want to stay healthy, you should visit your doctor before you get sick.

Few people would argue with the fact that if you want to stay healthy, you should visit your doctor before you get sick. Not only can your doctor assess your overall health, but he or she can point out areas of concern such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, and if you follow his or her advice, you can often prevent a health crisis.

Well the same holds true with your financial health. While many people seek financial counseling when they are on the brink of disaster and need mortgage help or foreclosure help, the best time to talk to a financial counselor is before you have a crisis. That way you may be able to prevent foreclosure or some other financial crisis from occurring in the first place. 

So where can you find a financial doctor? Your nearest HUD-approved counseling agency can offer you the prescription that you need.

---A financial counselor or coach can look at your financial picture and tell you if it is healthy.

---A counselor or coach can identify a trouble spot, such as a heavy debt load or a low credit score, and give you advice on how to fix it.

---A counselor or coach can listen to your financial concerns and help you to come up with a personalized solution.

Your personalized financial health plan

Everyone can benefit from financial counseling. Unfortunately, some people believe that if they can pay all of their bills today, they don’t need any more financial education. Even some financial professionals are guilty of this type of thinking. I’m concerned that many mortgage lenders and Realtors do not see the need for educating and preparing people who are mortgage-ready today when the reality is that the people who are mortgage-ready today may not be financially secure tomorrow.

If you went to a doctor once and never went for a checkup again, you wouldn’t know about health problems until they were too far-gone and you started experiencing symptoms of disease.  

In that same spirit, financial education should not only take place when you’re getting ready to buy a house. It should continue even after you are a homeowner so you can identify challenges when you still have enough time to fix them and remain financially healthy. No matter how much you think you know about money and improving your financial life, there is always something new that you can learn.

Financial counseling can:

---get you through difficult times, such as a job loss, illness or some other misfortune that wreaks havoc on your finances.

---help you to decide whether now is a good time to buy a home or whether a modification can help you to save money.

---alert you to problems with your budget, such as if you are not saving enough in your emergency fund.

The key to success is information. With regular financial checkups, you can maintain your financial health and increase your wealth.