If you're one of those people who embrace New Year's resolutions, improving your financial status might be one of the biggies. Getting your financial health in order is one resolution that you will reap benefits from from years to come. Here 10 ways that you can start today and get on track to a better--and more financially savvy-- version of you.
- Get a clear picture of your finances
Hiding your head in the sand won't help to improve the bottom line. Get a crystal-clear pictue of where you stand by studying your monthly income and expenses so that you can create a healthy, liveable budget that will help you to achieve your goals.
- Create a plan to pay down debt
Every dollar that you pay in interest on debt is a dollar that could be going toward your savings. That's why paying off debt should be a top priority. You can accelerate the process by cutting your spending or taking on a second job. If you are paying high interest rates, consider refinancing loans and credit card balances to lower-rate options. CU Community has many options available for credit card balance transfers, personal loans and refinances for autos and mortgages.
- Build a solid emergency fund
Many finance experts recommend socking away at least 10 percent of your take-home pay for an emergency fund so that you are prepared when you have unexpected expenses or losses of income. The goal is to have enough money put away so that you have enough money to live on for at least three to six months should you lose your job or ability to work. One of the easiest ways to do this is by setting up your direct deposit to automatically shift a certain dollar amount into your emergency fund with each paycheck.
- Check your credit report
It's essential that you check all of your credit files to protect your good credit standing. With identity fraud on the rise, checking your credit history thoroughly and on a routine basis can help ensure that your files are clean and that there are no errors. You can get one free credit report per year through Annualcreditreport.com.
- Review your insurance
Many homeowners and renters don't realize the importance of periodically reviewing insurance policies. If you've had major life changes, such as marriage or kids, or if you've recently renovated your home or made major purchases, it's particuarly important to make sure that you have adequate coverage. Take a home inventory to figure out the accurate value of your possessions. Once you know the number, talk to you insurance carrier to make any necessary adjustments.
- Open an Individual Retirement Account
Thinking of saving money for your golden years? Smart! You’re never too young or too old to start saving. While a 401(k) is a retirement savings plan offered through your employer, an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is something you set up yourself with help from your financial institution. As with a 401(k), the amount you contribute to your IRA is deducted from your taxable income, and you don’t pay taxes until you start making withdrawals. CU Community offers Traditional, Educational and Roth IRAs.
- Consider a Health Savings Account
Take control of your health care budget by opening a Health Savings Account (HSA) that lets you deposit tax-free funds that you can use to cover medical costs. Unused funds remain in the HSA year after year, earning tax-deferred dividends. Ask a member service rep for details.
- Start Using Online Bill Pay
Eliminate the paper clutter caused by bank statements, bills and other record keeping by shifting to online bill pay. Our BillPay Plus system lets you track and plan all of your bill paying activity so that you can stay on top of due dates and avoid the hassle of buying stamps.
- Maintain Your Major Purchases
As you build your 2014 budget, create a monthly maintenance calendar. Not only will this allow you to project realistic maintenance expenses, you’ll reduce the likelihood that you’ll face unexpected costly repairs on homes and automobiles. Regular maintence will keep things running in tip-top shape and ensure that you are helping to care for your investments.
- Maximize Those Raises
If you get a big promotion or a raise at work this year, do yourself the favor by stashing much--if not all--of the salary increase in your savings account. It will help you boost your emergency funds faster and give you major piece of mind.