Financial Tip of the Week from the Iowa Bankers Association:
Want to be the perfect Valentine for your significant other? Here are some tips to show him or her how "fiscally" attractive you can be.
1. Spend a romantic evening on a budget. Relationship woes often can be traced to finances. If money's tight, don't stay at home and grumble about money trouble, and don't spend a night on the town with champagne and caviar. Instead, get creative and go to a free concert or exhibit, build a snowman or make some hot cocoa to enjoy with your Valentine.
2. Have a plan for long-term financial security. Does your long-term financial plan involve the latest "make your millions in your spare time" scheme or a handful of lottery tickets? Hopefully not. Fast money scams are a quick way to financial ruin, and your significant other probably won't be impressed if you're banking on luck. Rather, set aside a portion from each paycheck for savings. And nothing says, "I love you" like keeping a budget—a written plan that accounts for fixed costs, variable expenses and once-in-a-while splurges.
3. Organize your financial records. Having a system in place for organizing your bills and financial statements helps you track your expenses and pay your bills on time. Shred what's no longer needed and keep the important stuff in a safe place. Being methodical is one thing, but holding onto papers you no longer need is an invitation to identity theft. Your Valentine doesn't want your identity stolen and neither do you.
4. Keep tabs on the accuracy of the information in your credit report. Exercise your legal right to receive free copies of your credit reports at www.AnnualCreditReport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228. This is the only authorized source for a truly free credit report. Many of the "free" credit report services require you to sign up for expensive add-ons and then bill your credit card every month.
5. Beware of e-mails asking for verification on an account number. Banks and credit card companies never ask for account information in e-mails. Messages like this are likely phishing attempts sent by scammers. Be a savvy sweetie and delete it immediately.
These tips are provided by the Iowa Bankers Association (IBA), representing banks and thrifts in the state. The IBA serves it members by providing legislative advocacy, training, regulatory compliance and other services designed to enhance the ability of banks to serve their communities. Learn more at www.iowabankers.com.