This March Madness be sure to pick your Financial Four

After you fill out your college basketball bracket, focus on your financial future with the Financial Four

March Madness, the time of the year when everyone huddles around their brackets and picks their favorites among the top 68 NCAA men’s basketball teams (including the Michigan State University Spartans). Tapping into the madness vibe, the National Endowments for Financial Education (NEFE) and the Financial Planning Association (FPA) are launching the second annual Financial Four, an interactive online bracket where instead of choosing teams, users rank priorities among 32 financial concepts.                     

March is an excellent time to make money decisions.

“Most people tend to think that money management is best done at the first of the year, but actually another great time is in March, when you have completed your taxes and have time to identify areas that need some attention,” said Michigan State University Extension educator Terry Clark-Jones.

Managing money can be overwhelming. People know the importance of improving savings, reducing debt, cutting spending and planning for retirement, but what areas should people focus on first? There is no one right answer and everyone’s financial situation is different. The Financial Four can help families sort out competing priorities while having fun in the process.

“Entertainment aside, this bracket is enlightening and useful. Some people may find that their top priorities are out of line with their habits,” said Paul Golden, media relations manager at NEFE. “The Financial Four also is a handy reference when reviewing goals, which many Americans do at tax time.”

You can get into the action by visiting the Financial Four website and starting at the outside and working inward, choose among the listed 32 financial matchups, narrowing down your priorities until selecting a champion -- your financial focus. You will learn valuable financial information by hovering over each concept on the bracket. If you would like to save your picks you can even print out your finished bracket.

It is not too late to create a financial plan for 2013. Use the Financial Four bracket help you decide if you should start an emergency savings account, pay down debt, create a will or purchase life insurance. All of these financial practices are important and the bracket will help you decide what to focus on first. The MSU Extension MI Money Health website can provide you with the tools to take the next step to achieving a healthy financial future.

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