As 2019 draws to a close, you may be reflecting on the past year and looking for ways to improve your financial standing. Whether you want to set a savings goal, reduce debt or fund home improvement projects, we’re ready to help.
Because credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives, our members get a better deal. Unlike for-profit financial institutions that must pay stockholders, we return benefits back to our members in ways such as lower interest rates on credit cards and car loans.
Check out the following tips and recommendations to improve your financial fitness in 2020. If you have questions, we’re a great place to start.
Create an Emergency Fund
No one knows what the future holds. Experts recommend having enough money to cover between three to six—or even nine months’ worth of expenses in the event of a personal financial emergency, such as the loss of a job, a debilitating illness, accident, or a major expense. This will allow you to cover big expenses in a crisis so that you don’t have to pile up debt with a large credit card balance or by taking out a high-interest loan.
Setting up your emergency fund takes time and patience, but the benefits far outweigh the effort. Approach this effort by putting together a savings plan:
- First, determine your monthly spending – cost of living, transportation, and food will likely take the lion’s share of your income.
- Then multiply that number by three. Reaching that number will be your initial goal.
- Save by downgrading your cell phone service, skipping that two-week vacation, cutting down on dining out, and saving your next raise or bonus.
- Set your savings to auto-withdrawal online each paycheck. That way you won’t be tempted to spend it.
Even if you don’t have the dedication to stick to a savings program, you can start simply. Make meals at home and bring lunches to work, skip the latte, and put new-found money from paying off a big debt, such as a personal loan or an automobile, into your fund. View your emergency fund like an insurance policy. Once you have it, safeguard it. If you ever need the money, you’ll be glad you did.
Ditch your Debt
Evaluate your credit card debt and consider consolidating into a single, lower-rate loan with one easy payment. We can help you find their best loan options for your situation. Learn more about debt consolidation here.
Create a Budget
Write it all down – every dollar you spend! From the daily coffee, to treats for the pets and monthly subscription costs, it all adds up. Writing down all your expenses, even those that seem insignificant, is a helpful way to track your spending patterns, identify necessary expenses, and prioritize the rest.
An easy budgetary rule: jumpstart your budgeting easily with the 50/20/30 rule. This simple rule consists of allocating 50% of your income toward essential expenses (rent, transportation, utilities), 20% toward personal financial goals (saving or paying off debt), and 30% toward flexible expenses (eating out, groceries, shopping, hobbies, entertainment, or gas).
Pass on Unnecessary Purchases
Define needs versus wants and get disciplined. Do you need the latest smart phone, or do you merely want it? Turning down something you want may be hard now, but your reward will be greater savings later.
Save on Utilities
Just because you have to spend money on utilities doesn’t mean you can’t cut back on the amount. Investigate ways to save electricity and reduce your heating/cooling costs. Consider cutting cable. Also examine your cell phone plans and look for better deals, either with your current carrier, or with a different one. Carriers are always running specials on data plans, which can really add up over time, especially if you’re incurring overages on your plan. If you’re at home, or have a secure WiFi connection, make sure your cell is connected to it so you’re not using your data plan
Become a Fan of Automation
Financial automation eases financial tasks, saving you time and increasing your efficiency.
Set up automatic overdraft protection: In a few easy steps, you can link your savings account to your checking to have a little added cushion in the event your expenses get a bit tight.
Set up automatic loan payments: Each month, the amount of your loan payment will automatically be deducted from a linked checking or savings account.
Automate your savings: Direct deposit your paycheck into multiple accounts, including one for each of your savings goals. Keeping funds out of sight helps you resist the urge to spend.
Set bills to autopay: Setting your bills to auto-pay is a great way to save you time, money, hassle, and offer peace of mind knowing your bills are paid on time every month.
Watch it Grow
As your savings account balance begins to grow, you’ll feel more motivated to take it even further. We can help you make your money work smarter, not harder, for you. Stop by a branch and we’ll tell you how!
There’s no better time to start getting fiscally fit than 2020!