When it comes to making resolutions for the New Year, most Americans fall into a couple of basic categories. While some will talk about losing weight or quitting tobacco, there are many who are hoping to reduce debt, improve savings, save for retirement or cut spending so they can be in a better position financially. But where to start? Today we will be talking about what you can do to help keep your financial New Years resolutions and how St. Anne Credit Union in New Bedford can help!
Step One – Start Tracking Your Spending
You won’t know where to start cutting and making improvements if you don’t know where your money is going. Experts recommend that you take at least a 30-day period to start tracking your checking and savings accounts, save receipts for all purchases – including cash purchases, and then review them all together at the end of the month. This will help you realize how much that $5 cup of coffee is really adding up to in 30-days or how much you are spending on extra items that you don’t really need. It’s a great way to gain perspective on your financial habits and responsibilities so you can see what areas need help and what you need to change most.
Step Two – Wipe Out Debt
Take a look at your debt, particularly the debt that you just accumulated for holiday shopping. Many Americans habitually rack up charges on credit cards, maxing them out during the holidays and then take a whole year to pay them off. The truth is that you are paying a high level of interest each month, which could take more than just the calendar year to get out from under if you don’t make some sort of game plan. Start with your highest interest credit card, pay that off and work your way down the line. Create a chart for yourself, either on paper, in a budget book or online in a spreadsheet and then celebrate every time you pay off another card. It can be difficult finding the discipline to wipe out your debt, but it is very rewarding once you get it all paid off.
Step Three – Start Saving
Now the money that you begin to save each month that would have previously been spent on credit card payments and interest, should be immediately put into a savings account at your local credit union in New Bedford. If you are able to start saving money, don’t reward yourself with a shopping spree. Create an emergency savings fund that can be used in the event of unexpected expenses. Experts estimate that between $1000-2000 is sufficient for most American households, however you can evaluate your individual needs to determine whether or not you should save more. Once your emergency fund is set, start investing money in another credit union savings account that can be used for things you want to purchase in the future, without resorting to high interest credit cards to pay for them.
Step Four – Evaluate Your Utilities
Some people look at monthly utility bills for mobile phones, cable or satellite television and Internet service as necessities. However, unless you are really using them and making the most out of those expenses, you could be wasting a couple hundred dollars each month. Start watching your own behaviors – how often do you watch those premium movie channels? Could you drop down to a smaller entertainment package? Do you really need the biggest Internet service package? Could you get away with a smaller account? The same goes for your cell phone. If you aren’t locked into a contract, consider a no-contract, unlimited use option that is a set rate each month to avoid surprise bills when you use more data, text or phone time. Put those savings directly into your credit union savings account.
Step Five – Maximize Your Earning Potential at Work
Most people don’t even realize that they have extra benefits at work, such as a 401(k) retirement plan where the employer matches monthly retirement savings contributions. The match money is free money that can help you to start earning money toward your future retirement. Even if you just set aside three percent of your monthly paycheck, you could be earning that same amount back from your employer each month. Review your health insurance plan options at work as well to make sure you are maximizing your options as well. A flex account program can provide you with tax savings and provide you with money to spend on medical expenses. Talk to your HR department about retirement savings contributions, insurance plan options and anything else they might offer.
Step Six – Learn About Investing
Take time to learn the basics about investing. There are many savings and investment opportunities available for members at your credit union in New Bedford that can help you to grow your money. From certificates of deposit to money market accounts, IRA savings that can help you maximize your retirement savings contributions and much more, St. Anne Credit Union in New Bedford can help you learn all you need to know about safe investing opportunities when you are ready to start growing all that money you’ve started accumulating in your checking and savings accounts.
Step Seven – Take a Look at Your Insurance
When it comes to home and auto insurance, there are a lot of commercials on television promising to save you money when you switch companies. The truth is, the more you know about home and auto insurance, what it covers, what it doesn’t, what you need and how much you are spending to get it, you don’t need all those cartoon-promoted gimmicks to save you money. Review your current insurance plans and talk with your local insurance agent to find out if there are any savings opportunities or credits available that can cut your monthly premium. And of course, put those savings into your credit union savings account for safe keeping.
Step Eight – Close Old Accounts
When you moved your checking and savings accounts to St. Anne Credit Union in New Bedford, did you close your old accounts at your former bank or credit union? You could be subject to inactivity fees or other costs if you do not formally close out your account. The same goes for credit card accounts. Once you pay off your high interest credit card accounts, consider closing the ones you will no longer be using to avoid annual fees and other associated costs.
How St. Anne Credit Union in New Bedford Can Help
Speak with your representative at your local credit union in New Bedford to find out all the ways they can help you to maximize your checking and savings accounts, improve retirement savings contributions and grow your money in an interest-earning credit union savings account. St. Anne Credit Union has been around longer than any other credit union in Southeastern Massachusetts. Serving residents and workers in Plymouth and Bristol counties, St. Anne Credit Union can help you to reduce your debt, increase your savings and keep your New Years’ financial resolutions!