It's a new year, which means it's the perfect time to start fresh or reassess your personal finances to make sure you're on track to meet your financial goals. To help, we're sharing some money-smart tips to help you crush your New Year's resolutions and keep your finances in check during the new year.
1. Automate Your Savings
Whether you're saving for a rainy day or building a nest egg for retirement, pay yourself first. Automate your savings by allocating a portion of your paycheck directly deposits to your savings account or IRA.
Tip: With time a little can grow into a lot. If you find that you just can't commit to an amount now, enroll in Members First's SaveUP program. The SaveUP program is the perfect way for you to save as you go. When you enroll in SaveUP, we'll round your debit card purchases to the next whole dollar amount. The extra funds are transferred nightly for the previous day's transactions to the account of your choice.
2. Start or Grow Your Emergency Fund
In the event of an unexpected financial setback, your emergency fund at the least, should be able to cover your expenses for three months. An ideal emergency fund is even bigger, especially for individuals with irregular incomes. Follow the 3-6-9 Rules: Guidelines for Emergency Savings to help you determine how much you need to set asides for emergencies. Then, do the math to determine what you can realistically save each paycheck to start or grow your emergency fund.
3. Reevaluate Your Budget
With your new year's resolution for a healthier financial you fresh in your mind, the start of the new year is a great time to reevaluate your budget. Start by determining if you're allocating enough towards needs, wants, and savings. Then check for sneaky expenses that you might be forgetting about like automatic payments for subscriptions you no longer use.
4. Prepare for Retirement
Retirement may seem like a long way off for some, but that doesn't mean you should put off preparing for the future. If you're contributing to a 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plan, that's great. However, to maximize your savings potential and make certain you have enough money to enjoy your retirement, you should also consider contributing to an IRA (Individual Retirement Account). The earlier you start saving for retirement the more your money will grow thanks to the magic of compounding interest.
5. Make a Plan to Pay Off Your High-Interest Debts
If you're carrying credit card debt or other high-interest debt into the new year, now is the perfect time to consider a balance transfer or debt consolidation loan. However, getting approved for a balance transfer or debt consolidation loan isn't enough. Make a plan to conquer your debt by committing to a debt repayment strategy like the Snowball or Avalanche methods.
6. Look for Opportunities to Cut Down on Your Home or Auto Expenses
Depending on your personal financial situation when you were approved, it may be time to consider refinancing your auto or home loan. Refinancing can lower your monthly payment, shorten the length of your loan, and get you cash on hand quickly.
Tip: With rates on the rise, consider refinancing with an Adjustable-Rate Mortgage (ARM). If you have questions or would like to get started, speak with a Members First representative. Want to weigh the pros and cons beforehand? See here if an adjustable-rate mortgage is right for you.
7. Utilize Your Membership Benefits to Seek Help or Ask Questions
We all need a little help sometimes and a benefit of being a member of Members First Credit Union of Florida is having access to free credit counseling. If you need assistance analyzing your budget or would like to get one-on-one consultation with a certified credit counselor to work through debt crisis or address life-changing financial matters, a representative from the University of West Florida Louis Maygarden Center for Financial Literacy is available for appointments at our branch on Nine Mile Rd.
8. Boost Your Credit Score
Did you know that raising your credit score can save you money? Individuals with good credit scores or better are more likely to qualify for loans with more favorable terms — lower rates and payments. Also, good credit could snag you lower insurance premiums.
Tip: Curious about your credit report? You are entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the major credit bureaus. To request your free credit report, visit annualcreditreport.com.
9. Earn Rewards for Your Day-to-Day Purchases
If you don't have a rewards credit card yet, you could be missing out on rewards for savings at the register or pump, cash back, and more. While you've likely heard cautionary tales of why you shouldn't use a credit card or perhaps had a bad experience with credit cards due to past financial mistakes, if you use your credit card responsibly, you could net yourself a ton of rewards for your day-to-day purchases.
10. Protect Your Finances by Staying Ahead of Fraud
Fraud can be crippling to your financial situation. Help protect your finances and stay on track of your financial goals by protecting yourself against fraud. Stay informed of the latest scam techniques by visiting consumer.ftc.gov. Additionally, since new scam techniques are developed every day, practice these fraud prevention tips to help you stay one step ahead of fraud during the new year and beyond.
Get Your Financial Check-up
Are you on track to meet your goals? If you're curious how your financial health checks out and what you could do to improve your financial well-being, take the Members First Credit Union of Florida Financial Wellness Quiz.
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Compound interest is a powerful concept in saving and investing — it pays to start saving early. We'll show you how and lend a helping hand in making your future brighter with savings and investment options like IRAs and CDs.
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Your credit score shouldn't be a mysterious number. Whether you've had past troubles, haven't yet established any credit, or want to get the best possible rate on a loan, knowing your score and how your credit score is calculated is important to your financial wellness. We'll share information and tips to help you create a positive credit history and boost your credit score.
As a valued member of Members First Credit Union of Florida we want to know how we can better serve you by improving the products and services available to you. To do this, we ask that you take a moment to answer this short survey to let us know what we can do to make our Checking Accounts more beneficial to you.
As a valued member of Members First Credit Union of Florida, we want to know how we can better serve you by improving the products and services available to you. To do this, we ask that you take a moment to answer this short survey to let us know what we can do to make our deposit accounts more attractive and beneficial to you.
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