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Next Step for Lori: Build a Budget

The excitement Lori was feeling when she called about the Library job offer gushed through the phone. Her thoughts are already turning to budgeting and how quickly she can be in her own place while continuing to meet both monthly as well as longer term expenses. Lori is beginning to consider many of the issues she will now face -- happily -- as she begins to reassume 100% of the financial responsibilities she has been fortunate to share between state assistance and her mom.

Prioritizing our list of to-do’s and keeping Lori focused on the most important, versus the most interesting or most fun or appealing, will be one of my objectives in the new year. And just behind the first goal -- building a budget -- is getting Lori fully prepared for living on her own.

I want Lori to approach finding her rental with the same determination and planning she applied to finding employment. She has a number of specific requirements, and must spend her money very wisely and most importantly. I want her to use even the apartment search as a financial planning lesson she can successfully repeat on her own in the future. Lori and I will work to make sure she makes a good first financial impression with potential landlords and that means we need to make sure her credit report is as positive and accurate as possible. That can take time, so we will get started on that soon -- and the first place to begin is to get copies of her reports from the three major agencies. Copies can be obtained at no charge once each 12 months at www.annualcreditreport.com. There is a charge to obtain her credit score, but the report is free, and that is all we need to start correcting errors and see what we have to work with.

A close second in terms of priorities is to begin to build a security deposit balance in her savings account. There will be many moving related expenses we will estimate as well so that we can be ready when moving day arrives in 2010.

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