A new year is the perfect time to get your finances on the right track. Setting financial goals, and sticking to them, will enable you to achieve financial freedom for years to come. I can sum it up for you in two words: manage well.
First, ask God for contentment and self-control, so that you will not spend money on things you do not need. More “stuff” does not bring long-term happiness.
Second, consider that we live in a very busy world with technology always at your fingertips. In order to make things become habit, use your technology to easily implement new behaviors. If you want to save more money or pay off debts, determine the amount to save or how much you would like to reduce your debt, then automate the process by setting up automatic transfers each pay period. This simple gesture will help you keep the resolution until you reach your goal.
Want to spend less money? Then set up “spend tracking” alerts on your credit card and in online banking. Determine your limit when you are setting up your monthly spending plan (budget). The minute the set dollar amount is hit, an alert from the credit card company is sent via text, as well as email, letting you know you have reached the set dollar amount. It is a wonderful tool that lets you know when you need to quit spending (put the card away) or when you are at risk for going over budget.
Want to make sure your bank account does not go below a certain dollar amount? No one ever wants to pay an overdraft fee, right? Great news! You can automate bank account balance alerts, too. Alerts can be set when the balance falls below a certain dollar amount. If you need help setting up your banking alerts, stop by any of our First United Bank locations and we will be happy to assist you with setting up online banking alerts to help you manage well.
Here are some additional tips for managing your finances throughout the year:
- Keep track of your spending. Tracking every dollar and cent you spend will help you to be more mindful of your expenses and indulgences.
- Pay yourself first. Take 10% off the top of your monthly income and save it before you pay bills.
- Save at least half of your bonuses, commissions, tax refunds, or raises.
- Don’t allow yourself to make any impulse purchases. Put a time limit on how long you need to consider the purchase before actually buying any item over a certain dollar amount. Ask yourself, do I need this? Think of various ways you can avoid a purchase by convincing yourself you CAN live without that gadget.
- Look at how many hours you will have to work to pay for a purchase. Is it really worth that many hours of your hard-earned time?
- Determine your net worth by beginning the new year with a quick calculation of your financial assets and obligations. This will allow you to pinpoint areas for improvement.
- Take advantage of a free credit report (you are entitled to three per year) and make sure the information is accurate. If there are any negative or incorrect items being reported, make time to get those cleared as soon as possible.
- Have date nights at home instead of going out.
- Shop for holidays all year long, instead of rushing and impulse buying during the holidays.
- Stay up-to-date on vehicle maintenance to avoid any emergency costs later.
- Respect money like a family heirloom. When you respect something, you won’t hastily throw it away.
- Participate in a money savings challenge like America Saves Week which will be February 26 - March 3, 2018.
Lastly, invite your spouse or a close friend to be your “managing well” accountability partner to encourage each other on a frequent basis. When you partner with someone to accomplish a similar goal, it can actually add joy to the journey. With some early success, you will be more inclined to continue this resolution for the rest of your life!
Here is an enthusiastic “cheers” to you for managing well this year!