ST. LOUIS, June 27, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- This Independence Day, families across the country will be celebrating with picnics, barbecues, and of course, fireworks. But few will be thinking about ways they can prepare for their future and avoid the financial fireworks that can wreak havoc on a pocketbook.
To help people manage their money and avoid the most common financial pitfalls, M&I, a part of BMO Financial Group has introduced an informational website – Helpful Steps at www.bmoharris.com/helpfulsteps.
"Education and planning can go a long way to creating a secure financial future," said Mary Brockhaus, M&I Senior Vice President. "We're here to help people build long-term financial strength, which in turn, will strengthen communities in the St. Louis area."
To get started on the path to success, Brockhaus offers some advice.
- Pay bills on time. Not paying bills on time is one of the most common mistakes – especially for young people – and the fees incurred can have long-lasting consequences, not to mention the negative impact on your credit score.
- Write a budget and stick to it. This is the guide to income vs. spending, and it can make or break an individual's financial standing. The budget should be updated and checked regularly, to ensure that spending is on target.
- Prepare for retirement. It's never too early to start saving for retirement – especially with the rising cost of health care. Take advantage of any employer-sponsored retirement plan, but if those aren't available, set up a 401(k) or IRA to auto-withdraw from your checking account each month.
- Avoid credit card debt, and know your interest rate. Interest rates have risen in recent years, which means that even small purchases can turn into large debts if not paid off immediately. Educate yourself on the terms of your card agreement and minimize spending to avoid debt wherever possible.
- Diversify your investment dollars. Working with a professional financial advisor will help provide the best strategies for you to reach your individual goals.
- Regularly monitor banking account activity. This will ensure you have a good understanding of where your money goes, how much you have in various accounts, and will also offer the opportunity to spot fraudulent activity.
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 Bank 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 BMO Harris Bank