Celebrate Financial Independence

Americans are passionate about independence and financial independence is no exception. This Fourth of July,™ encourages consumers to be free of risky credit behavior and work toward a financially sound future.

“Financial independence is a process, but getting started is the key,” said Ken Chaplin, senior vice president at “Managing expenses, ensuring payments are made on time and proactive credit monitoring all contribute to a life of financial freedom.”

Here are five simple tips to get started:

•    Save more than what you spend. After you pay bills, it feels nice to have a little spending cushion. However, opting to place extra funds into a savings account or building an emergency stash can only benefit and increase spending power in the long run.

•    Create a budget — and stick to it. It’s easy to lose track of expenses and allow charges to rack up, so consider creating a budget. Instead of paying the price at the end of the month, there will be more to celebrate.

•    Know, understand and monitor your credit. Credit scores not only can indicate financial health, but they also greatly impact future financial decisions and buying power. Keeping tabs on your credit and avoiding slips can open doors and give you the power to explore additional financial options when faced with major life purchases.

    Be aware of payments. Staying on top of credit card payment dates avoids late fees and establishes good credit payment history. Making payments on time also can have a positive effect on your credit score.

•    Pay down your credit card balance. Paying more than the minimum credit card balance helps to reduce debt and interest payments. A maxed-out credit card can take a long time to pay off and can raise your credit utilization ratio, which isn’t good for your credit score.