How Many Nickels Equal A Quarter?

There are no stupid financial questions, ask yours on September 28

Sep 25, 2012, 15:14 ET from M&I, a part of BMO Financial Group

SARASOTA, Fla., Sept. 25, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Although some Americans will celebrate National Ask a Stupid Question Day on September 28, financial questions plague many people throughout the year. Remind yourself that when it comes to providing for your future, there is no stupid question—then read on.

"Financial matters can seem intimidating to some people, so they shy away from asking honest questions," said Dave Maraman, Florida Regional President at M&I, a part of BMO Financial Group. "As bankers, we welcome the opportunity to help people get answers to their financial questions."

Here are a few common financial questions:

Do I really need to create a monthly or yearly budget? Yes! Creating a budget prevents you from spending more than you earn. By keeping track of what you spend, you'll be able to see where and how you spend your money, not just how much of it you spend.

How do I start paying off debt? First, stop increasing it.  Stick to the budget you just set—be realistic, but if you're paying $90 a month for a gym membership you never use, put that money toward paying down debt. Make a list of the debts you owe and when they must be paid. Next, prioritize them. Start with the debt with the highest interest rate. If the bills are past due, they should be paid first. Delinquent payments negatively affect your credit score, and your credit score affects, well, everything.

Do I have the proper amount in my emergency fund? Simply put, if your "emergency fund" is your credit card, the answer is no. Credit cards are great for things if you have the money to pay them off at the end of the month and even help build your credit score if it needs a boost. An emergency fund prevents you from having to use high interest credit cards unexpectedly. Start building your emergency fund by making it part of your monthly budget. Rule of thumb: it should be able to sustain your living expenses for three to six months.

Should I set money aside for future investments? Planning ahead can save you from tons of stress later. By thinking into the future about what large purchases you may want to make, you can set savings goals to help you earn things you want on your own terms.

"Decide on a fixed dollar amount to set aside from each paycheck to put in a savings account you know you will not touch," recommends Maraman. "When the time is right, you will have accrued interest and saved your money for the perfect house, vacation or new car."

Should I overpay my mortgage? There are many benefits to overpaying your mortgage. You will be able to pay the principal amount of your mortgage and accrue less interest. Keep in mind, though, that you should pay down debts with higher interest rates first.

Handling money can be confusing for anyone, but asking the right questions can lead to financial success. When in doubt, remember that the only stupid question is the one that you don't ask.

For more information on mortgages, investments or financial planning, visit

About BMO Harris Bank

Based in Chicago, BMO Harris Bank N.A. provides a broad range of personal banking products and solutions through over 650 branches and approximately 1,350 ATMs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Nevada, Arizona and Florida. BMO Harris Bank's commercial banking team provides a combination of sector expertise, local knowledge and mid-market focus throughout the U.S. Deposit and loan products and services provided by BMO Harris Bank N.A. Member FDIC. BMO Harris BankSM is a trade name used by BMO Harris Bank N.A. BMO Harris Bank is part of BMO Financial Group, a North American financial organization with 1,600 branches, and a retail deposit base of approximately $180 billion.

SOURCE M&I, a part of BMO Financial Group