FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — April is Financial Literacy Month, and you can attend free classes to boost your budget knowledge.

Credit Counseling of Arkansas (CCOA) says someone with a lot of financial literacy isn’t necessarily a millionaire, but they’re financially stable, not living paycheck to paycheck, and have a savings account.

CCOA has offices in Bentonville, Fayetteville, and Fort Smith. Mark foster is with the nonprofit and has helped many people manage their finances at no cost.

He says their free services are becoming more important, since Arkansas ranks last in financial literacy.

Foster said now’s the time to start increasing your savings, since many economists are expecting a recession at the end of the year.

“Hope for the best, but plan for the worst,” said Foster. “So it’s really a good time, right now. It’s kind of like spring cleaning for your finances. It’s really good to take a look at your expenses to see if there are things to adjust and reduce.”

Foster said more than half of Americans say they don’t have enough in their savings account to cover a $1,000 emergency, and around 30% of people don’t have a savings account at all.

If you fall in that category, or want to enhance your financial literacy, CCOA has four more free classes this month to help.

On April 10 in CCOA’s Bentonville location, there’s a class for credit and savings help at 5:30 p.m. To sign up, email Mark Jones at markj@ccoacares.com.

The other classes are being held on Tuesdays at the Fayetteville Public Library at 2 p.m. No sign up is necessary.

Another way to ‘spring clean your finances’, is to start checking your credit report. Foster suggests using the free federal website to do this, and says it’s best to do this at least six months in advance of asking for your next loan, so you have enough time to correct any errors or fraud.

He said the most common question he gets is how to improve a credit score. His answer is to create a budget allowing you to pay bills on time and knock down debt, since foster said those two factors make up 65% of your credit score.

Foster said creating a budget starts by looking back at where you’re spending your money.

“Not what you think you’re spending and what you hope you’re spending, but actually go through and look at everything,” said Foster. “Sometimes we can have a blind spot, and we can say, ‘Oh my goodness, I didn’t know we’re spending that much on going out to eat or on entertainment’.”

If you want more free one-on-one help with a credit counselor, you can call CCOA at 1-800-889-4916.