Money 98 Financial Suite Offers Solutions for New Year’s Recovery From Holiday Shopping Sprees

REDMOND, Wash., Dec. 9, 1997 — Consumer spending is forecasted to total a whopping $162 billion this holiday season, with Americans projected to spend an average of $816 on holiday gifts in 1997, up from $764 in 1996. Even though Americans plan to spend more, only 40 percent will set a specific budget for their holiday spending this season and, ironically, only 56 percent of Americans claim to be saving in anticipation of the holidays.

Setting the Course for the New Year

After the traditional holiday shopping frenzy, when many Americans have overspent, the need for sound financial direction marks the start of a new year. Neale Godfrey, best-selling author of “From Cradle to College – A Parent’s Guide to Financing Your Child’s Life” and “Making Change – A Woman’s Guide to Designing Her Financial Future,” highlights the importance of taking control of one’s financial life.

“Getting your personal finances in order is among the most popular New Year’s resolutions, next to getting physically fit and quitting smoking,” Godfrey said. “The first step to fulfilling your financial resolution is to get organized.” She recommends personal finance software, like Microsoft® Money 98 Financial Suite, as an easy, effective tool for bringing about successful, long-term change to stamp out post-holiday blues, as well as financial woes throughout the year.

Expert Tips for Total Financial Fitness

Godfrey offers four simple tips for consumers seeking financial fitness in the new year:

  • Assess your financial situation. Consider the short- and long-term goals you would like to achieve.

  • Use personal finance software or a financial adviser to summarize and assess your entire financial situation including what you have (monthly income, net worth, etc.), what you’re spending and what you owe.

  • Make a budget. Create a plan you can realistically stick to and track your progress each month.

    • Include all your expenses, from holiday spending to mortgage payments to dry cleaning.

    • If you had set aside just $68 each month for the past year, you would have the estimated $816 you need for holiday gift giving this time of year.

  • Pay off credit card debt. Make paying off expensive debts a top priority.

    • Pay off high-interest credit cards.

    • Steer clear of deferred payments; you may spend more than you planned and won’t realize it until bills start hitting the mailbox in January.

  • Save and invest for the future. Start saving now and watch your savings grow dramatically over your lifetime.

    • By saving $40 a week between ages 25 and 35, and investing it at 10 percent without touching it, you will have accumulated $750,000 by age 65.

Success in Spokane

Gavin and Storm Cooley of Spokane, Wash., are among those paying heed to Godfrey’s advice. Like many Americans seeking to get the new year started on the right financial track, the Cooleys credit Money 98 Financial Suite with helping them get their finances in order and plan for the future. As parents of four children, their story is typical of many young families living hectic lifestyles. Tired of living paycheck to paycheck, they started to use Money 98 Financial Suite not only to understand their spending patterns and consequences, but to minimize their debt and begin saving for their children’s college educations.

Storm explained how Money 98 Financial Suite has changed the way her family manages its finances. “Ever since we started tracking our day-to-day finances using Money 98 Financial Suite, we have been able to keep our spending under control by monitoring our monthly budget, and it’s much easier than I ever thought. We bank online and use the Internet to track the performance of our mutual fund accounts, so we’re able to download all of our transactions to instantly see where we’re over or under budget,” she said.

“The process has been fun too. We set aside time to review our financial situation and have already seen a positive effect on our overall goals. For example, our children seem to grow a foot every year, and as avid skiers, they need to get new boots and skis before each season. Once we fully understood the value of the dollars we spend, we took all the equipment the kids had outgrown, sold it and put the money toward new equipment. We ended up saving more than $400!”

The Total Solution: Money 98 Financial Suite

Money 98 Financial Suite has many new and sophisticated yet easy-to-use features to help put users’ finances in order for the new year:

  • The Budget and Savings Planner helps users anticipate expenses and set reasonable spending limits, and assists them in setting savings goals, whether it’s paying off the debt accumulated during the 1997 holiday spree, planning for 1998 holiday spending or creating a rainy day fund for emergencies.

  • The Debt Reduction Planner helps users map out a payment schedule so they can be debt-free by the date desired. The planner can be used to fight the battle of the credit card bulge built up during the holidays.

  • The Goal Planner helps users set and achieve both short- and long-term financial goals, such as setting a plan for next year’s holiday spending. The Goal Planner’s Lifetime Forecast shows a long-term projection of users’ finances, allowing them to see immediately if their plans are realistic.

  • Money Insider

    ™ interactive financial guide can help consumers make smart financial decisions. It includes hundreds of articles written by today’s leading financial experts, offering up-to-date information on a variety of financial topics such as debt reduction, financing and investing. The site ( also offers directories of financial advisers and online banking services, and loan and credit card information from thousands of institutions.

Godfrey stressed that it’s never too early to start saving for next year’s holiday season: “If you start planning now, you’ll be prepared and won’t have to deal with the post-holiday spending blues next year. It’s as easy as logging on to the computer. If you use all of these features together, it helps take the guesswork out of personal finance and lets you take control of your financial life.”

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ
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