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Financial fitness

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- It's that time of year! - No, not just preparing ourselves for Physical Fitness training, but to get your personal finances back into fighting shape also. 

Thanks to the country's economic nosedive and the summertime fast approaching, most of us could benefit from a proven, no-nonsense financial workout plan. Below are some tips on how to improve your "Financial Fitness" program, taken from an article on the Air Force Times website. I have taken a sample from each category to help you improve your financial status. These tips should help you build wealth, boost credit scores and harden your core financial assets in 2009. Refer to the article on-line to see the rest of the tips.
Polish your credit file 

The fastest ways to send your credit scores skyrocketing -- or make them crash and burn -- all have to do with credit cards. 

1. Avoid opening new credit card accounts. Opening a new credit card will drop your credit score for many months. It's safe to open an account only if you are not financing a car or buying a home within the next 18 months. 

2. Negotiate lower interest rates. Call the company and just ask, and do it often -- especially if you have not been late on a payment for a couple of years. If you don't get what you want on the first try, call again the next month. Credit card banks are businesses, and they have specials, too.
Raise your credit score 

3. Pay your debts early. If you pay your credit cards, installment loans and mortgage loans as much as three weeks early for a few months' time, your scores will rise. 

4. Pay more than the minimum amounts. If you can, regularly pay at least $25 per month over the minimum amount.
Gain financial success 

5. Spend less than you make. Without this, all the other rules have no value -- if you don't save, you can't invest. If you spend it all, you may have fun but you will never get rich except by accident. 

6. If you ignore money, it will ignore you. Spending it all will leave you with a pile of useless stuff that someday your relatives will be selling at a garage sale. 

7. Teach your children about money. Instead of simply providing them with money, a financial education is one of the most valuable gifts you can give. 

8. Give back to others some of your good fortune. It will come back to you in ways that you will not expect.