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TDCI urges Tennesseans to evaluate finances as new year gets underway
February 5, 2021

Consumers should evaluate finances to help save money and manage debt

NASHVILLE —After a year when many Tennesseans faced uncertainty about their finances as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance’s (TDCI) Division of Regulatory Boards reminds Tennesseans that responsible financial choices can help build a prosperous year.

“Though it’s still early in 2021, our Regulatory Boards team remains focused on assisting licensees and consumers,” said Assistant Commissioner Alex Martin. “As part of our mission, we are reminding consumers to evaluate their finances early this year in order to help plan ahead for any financial challenges they might they might encounter now or into the future.”

TDCI oversees the licensure of credit and debt collection professionals through the Collection Service Board, Debt Management Program and the Credit Services Business registration program.

Consumers might save money, manage debt or repair their credit by asking themselves these simple questions to evaluate their financial situation.

1. What is your spendable income? “Spendable income” is the amount of money left after all deductions and from all sources. Carefully examine two or three months of check stubs and deposits. If your income is a fixed amount, this will be relatively easy to determine. If your income is seasonal or fluctuates due to bonuses, commissions or varied hours, determine the best estimate of a monthly average.

2. Who do you owe? It's a best practice for everyone to have a written budget of some kind. Start by making a list of all your bills with payments and balances, including utilities, rent or mortgage, car payment(s), insurance, loans from friends or family. Think about items, such as subscriptions or memberships, that you pay quarterly, semi-annually or annually and list these as well. Consider canceling items you can do without or streamlining subscriptions. Take your time and make sure you get everything on this list. Ensure you regularly review your credit reports from all three credit reporting agencies to make sure you have everything. Follow this link to find a guide on how to access and review your credit reports.

3. What do you spend your money on? For the next 30 to 60 days track every penny you spend. Keep a notepad with you at all times or setup a list in your phone. If you visit a store or a vending machine for a snack – write it down. If you eat a meal out at a restaurant – write it down. If you do this for every item you buy, you will be very surprised to see where a lot of your money is going. Did you realize $5 a day, 5 days a week, is over $100 per month and over $1,200 per year? Consider items you can cut out each month to save money over the longterm.

4. Where can you cut expenses? Now that you have seen where you have spent your money for the last 30 to 60 days, can you cut some expenses? When you shop do you take advantage of shopper rewards programs or coupons? Do you comparison shop – which store has the best value for the items your family needs? Have you tried store brands? Do you meal plan so you know exactly what you need? Do you make a shopping list and stick to it? Saving $5 to $10 a week can really add up over time.

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