Experts offer first steps to rein in debt

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – With less than a week remaining in 2017, it may be a good time to start thinking about your New Year’s resolution.

For many people, paying down debt tends to be a top choice.

A recent survey by the American Psychological Association finds 62 percent of Americans are stressed about money but only a quarter of people include finances in their New Year’s resolution.

According to NerdWallet, there are more than $900 million in credit card debt among American households. So, in order to get in good financial shape, the step is taking a look at your budget.

“You need to know how much money is coming in on a monthly basis and how much is going out. By starting there, you can look at what I call need versus want. There are things people want, but you might not necessarily need them,” said Brian Laraway, with Bury Financial Group.

Laraway said once you have that budget in place, the next step is building up your emergency fund.

“You certainly don’t want anything to happen that you have to put it on a credit card, which could put you in an even deeper hole,” Laraway said.

From there, you can start paying down your debt. Take a look at how and where you spend your money each day.

“It’s knowing that if I make these decisions that I am going to have this extra bit of income that I could apply towards my various goals,” Laraway said.

Remember to start small. Over time you can set new goals, but having that initial success at managing debt is a good feeling.

“It just makes you feel good that you are accomplishing something. You are not going to do it all in one month, one quarter or one year, but it’s checking off little things along the way,” Laraway said.

One thing to keep in mind is to budget time and money to have fun, but you need to limit how many times you go out a week or within a month.

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