Financial fitness

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EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — There’s no doubt this year has been tough on many of us emotionally, physically and financially.

While we can’t control everything around us, one thing we can do is make sure our finances don’t flatline, especially as we head into the holiday season of stress and spending. Eyewitness News sat down with a local financial advisor who has some options.

The holidays are a time when our credit cards and bank accounts seem to get quite a workout. Add a pandemic into the mix with high unemployment for several months, and it can lead to a financial fitness fail.

“The old saying you know. Save for rainy day. Well unfortunately we had a rainy, I guess, nine months and possibly some more months going forward,” Louis Ingargiola, president of I&M Wealth Advisors, said.

So how can we beef up our budgets and heal our financial health as we head into the holiday season and beyond? Ingargiola says bring it back to the basics. Budget.

“Everyone should do this. You should. You should sit down. There’s a lot of good apps. There’s a lot of good things online that will help you budget. It doesn’t have to be hard. It could be a simple as a pad of paper,” Ingargiola said.

Ingargiola says a lot of us know how much money is coming in but not exactly what’s going out. He suggests writing down how much it costs you to live for a month from the bills you pay to the food you buy.

“Most people will spend more time planning their trip to the shore than they will looking at their finances. So if there is one thing I have to say is take inventory,” Ingargiola said.

He says a good rule of thumb is to have at least six to 12 months of those expenses saved. That’s easier said than done sometimes. But there are small changes you can make that can add up in a big way.

“You have to be able to save. And how do you save? You save by living within your means,” Ingargiola said.

Another way to pinch pennies is through micro investing by using apps like Acorns that round up your purchase to the nearest dollar. Over time, that spare change adds up.

Be conscious of the purchases you need versus want. Use cash instead of credit. And don’t overspend during the holidays.

The best gift is to set a goal for yourself to be debt free by a certain date or year. Also make sure to set aside some money to invest in yourself.

“Our advice is always the same. You invest in your retirement because you never want to outlive your money. You want your money to outlive you,” Ingargiola said.

A financial workout that’s worth its weight in gold. Ingargiola also says whatever debt you incur you should aim to pay it off in 12 to 24 months.

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