Make The Consumer Savvy Connection

Plug into these strategies to maximize your personal purchasing power in the 21st century.

It is seldom luck or inheritance or advanced degrees or even intelligence that enables people to amass fortunes. Wealth is more often the result of a lifestyle of hard work, perseverance, planning, and, most of all, self-discipline.
– The Millionaire Next Door

Who wants to be a millionaire? We all do. That’s why ABC’s popular television game show, which promises to make contestants rich if they can answer a few easy questions, is taking America’s households by storm. Every week an average Joe multiplies his money with the help of wit and luck. Viewers stay tuned because the contestant serves as a testament to the widely held belief that dreams really do come true. “If it can happen to him, it can happen to me too.”

And it can happen to you. But first understand that becoming wealthy has nothing to do with luck, and it’s not what you make (or win) but what you keep that will help you build a secure financial future. As reformed spender Mary Hunt suggests, “More money will never be enough until you learn how to take care of what you already have.” That’s why it’s imperative that you start taking a closer look at how you’re spending your money, why you’re spending it, and make a commitment to changing poor spending habits once you discover room for improvement.

Why now? Currently African Americans are estimated to have more than $500 billion in earned income, and that amount is expected to increase as the years go by. That’s more clout than African Americans have ever had and too much money to leave to chance. In addition, there are a lot more products and services vying for your dollars and there are more outlets by which these goods may garner your attention. Advertisements and product promotions are no longer limited to TV, newspapers, and magazines. You’re also being targeted through the Internet, e-mail, automated telephone calls, direct mail, movie screens and other means.

Now more than ever, you’ll be challenged to sift through the media madness so you can build the life that you and your children deserve. And your shopping smarts won’t be limited to bargaining for a better price for once-in-a-lifetime large purchases. True consumer savvy in the new millennium will require managing the smaller expenses as well. Remember: a big leak may sink a ship faster than a small leak, but a sunken ship is still underwater. Here are the five strategies to keep you afloat through this year and beyond.

Get rid of your credit card debt. We’ve said it before and we’re saying it again. Manage your credit card use by purchasing items within your budget and paying off all credit card balances in full before the due date. In addition, avoid credit cards that have annual fees, and constantly read the fine print so you stay aware of payment terms. If you use your credit card in this manner, you’ve got yourself an interest-free loan. Otherwise you’ll transform your credit card use from a

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