Facing Your Finances

Are you concerned about the economy and your financial budget?

Now, through the month of May, WBTV News This Morning and Consumer Reporter Kristen Miranda will share a special series every Tuesday entitled "On Your Side: Facing Your Finances."

Be sure to check here weekly to see the stories which aired during on our morning news and you can download worksheets from our expert to help get your finances in order.  (Look on this page under "Additional Information.")

Finance Professional John Putnam with Northwestern Mutual will be with us every Tuesday.  Click here to send us your questions.

WEEK 1:  Tuesday, March 10th

Today we begin our journey.  We ask you to think about your financial situation and how you think you can ride out the next 12 months.

Financial professional John Putnam tells us there are four core steps that we should follow as we pursue financial security in good times, and bad.  He tells us these steps never change.  If we spend less than we earn, keep cash reserves on hand, avoid consumer debt, and have a long-term plan, Putnam says we are on the right path.

To assess your current situation, please take a moment to fill out the Four helpful lists to evaluate your finances.  It's a tool created by a man named Tom Paterson, which helps us decide what's right, wrong, missing and confusing about our finances.

WEEK 2:  Tuesday, March, 17th

During Tuesday's segment, we tackle the importance of knowing where you are now, financially, in order to get to where you want to go.

Financial Professional John Putnam shows us how to calculate our net worth and asks viewers if they know exactly where their money goes every month.

And don't forget to do your homework.  John explains how to use our What do you own and owe? and Where does my money go? worksheets.

WEEK 3:  Tuesday, March 24th

This week we're talking about spending les than you earn.  Listen as viewers just like you answer our question of the week, "Is it easier to earn more or spend less?"

Financial professional John Putnam walks us through the difficult process of determining the difference between what we have to pay and what we need to pay.  During  segment,  John explains how to use the Four Columns worksheetClick here for the blank version.

WEEK 4: Tuesday, March 31st

The importance of stashing some cash is the topic for Week Four of Facing Your Finances.  Exactly how much cash reserve do you think you need on hand in case of emergency?  We also ask our question of the week, "If you had a surprise or emergency need for cash, how would you cover the expenses?"

Wait until you hear how viewers responded!

During Tuesday's segment, Kristen and Financial Professional John Putnam explains how to use the Stash Some Cash worksheet.  In our Web Extra content, John shares some easy ways to get cash NOW, and tells you where to put it once you have it.

WEEK 5: Tuesday, April 7th

Kristen and Financial Professional John Putnam tackle "The D-Word".   There are good, and bad types of debt.  Learn the difference between the two and the impact of buying on credit.  It may surprise you to see just how much more you end up paying for an item, when you use credit instead of cash.

John also explains how to use the Accelerator worksheet.

WEEK 6: Tuesday, April 14th

During today's segment, Kristen and Financial Professional John Putnam ask you where you turn for financial advice.  The answers vary widely and John breaks down the best places to find help.

You can also analyze whether you are your own best financial advisor, or if you should hire a professional.  The Know your pro worksheet will help.

Check out the Financial Health Checkup here and if you're searching for a financial professional, click here.

WEEK 7:  Tuesday, April 21st

During this week's segment, Northwestern Mutual Financial Professional John Putnam talked about something few of us like to think about--life insurance.  He explained the difference between the two major types of life insurance.  We also showed you the five uses for life insurance that could help you determine if you need it.  You can use our two "calculators" to determine just how much life insurance you might need to purchase.  Click here to see the Life insurance calculator and information to determine your earning potential.

WEEK 8:  Tuesday, April 28th

Disability insurance is the topic this week, as Financial Professional John Putnam helps us understand why we need it and how to calculate just how much we need.

Give our "Question of the Week" a try:

"Just pretend that you had a money machine at your house that gave you $50,000 per year in income for you to live on.  How much of that $50,000 would you use to buy a WARRANTY to fix your money machine if it broke?"

Watch the video to see how your answer compares to the answers of viewers we polled.  Then hear what John Putnam had to say.

To learn more about your earning potential, check out the Earning Potential calculator.  For help in choosing a financial planner, click here.

Week 9:  Tuesday, May 5

If you found $100 on the street and were unable to locate the owner of that money, what would you do with it?

We asked a handful of people that question and their answers varied widely.  It's an opportunity to look at the money "mis"behaviors we make.  That's the topic for Week 9.  Watch the video to see if you fall into these traps too.  Then click here to see the Financial Misbehaviors booklet.

Week 10:  Tuesday, May 12

We all make mistakes.  In week 10 we look at the most common money mistakes people make.  That daily cup of coffee you buy, and your $8 lunch, could add up to a big no-no when it comes to Facing Your Finances.

Consumer Reporter Kristen Miranda and Northwestern Mutual Financial Professional John Putnam look at the top four mistakes on WBTV, and we'll explore one more in a wbtv.com web exclusive.

Week 11:  Tuesday, May 19

For many of us, retirement may be a few more years away than we originally anticipated, due to the economy.  In the meantime, what are you doing to prepare?  We ask that question this week, and Northwestern Mutual Financial Professional John Putnam gives us the answer.

From building a retirement fund, to paying medical bills once you're finished working, they're things we all should be thinking about.

Check out the Lifespan Calculator, and be sure to download the Re-TIRE or Re-TOOL checklist.

Week 12:  Tuesday, May 26

During this final week of Facing Your Finances, Northwestern Mutual Financial Professional John Putnam leaves us with his parting words of wisdom, and a list of things to remember as we move forward with our finances.

Along with the number one lesson we should take from this series,  John shared his Super-Tips worksheet.  This is a list you can print, and post in a spot where you look every day, as a reminder of how to take the emotion out of money, and simply use it as a tool.

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If you have a question you'd like us to ask Finance Professional John Putnam, send an email to Consumer Reporter Kristen Miranda.