As the New Year begins, it’s time to start thinking outside the box. This spirit of Resolutions’ applies to more than just going to the gym! The new year is an ideal time to dust off your finances and set up your budget. Maybe your upcoming tax returns have motivated you to increase your emergency savings for the year ahead, or perhaps one of the New Year’s resolutions you made was to improve your credit score? Whatever your situation, now is the perfect time to get your financial house in order. These four strategies can help you get your personal finances in check and maintain a strong foundation for the rest of the year.
1) Clean Up Your Credit
Your credit score can have one of the biggest impacts on your financial life – so don’t let it collect dust! Did you know you can check your credit score for free with each of the three credit bureaus? Staggering your requests every four months allows you to keep a regular eye on your credit report. Once you know your score, you can set goals to continue to improve your responsible credit habits.
2) Pay Your Bills On-Time
In today’s digital age, there are various mobile payment options available to help you to get ahead of your bills. Set up online banking and use automatic bill pay to save yourself the hassle of mailing checks and protect against the costs of missing a deadline. Additionally, many retailers, banks, and credit unions allow you to pay your bills in real-time via mobile payment technology.
3) Protect Your Accounts
With the prevalence of digital transactions, it’s important to protect yourself from consumer fraud and identity theft. In fact, nearly 3 million consumers reported fraud in 2018 alone. Regularly checking your credit score (see #1) for errors and unauthorized transactions is one simple strategy to protect your identity. Make it a priority to refresh the tactics you use to keep your identity safe this spring:
4) Save for a Rainy Day
Rainy day funds protect against more than the weather. Did you know that 78% of Americans do not have enough savings to cover unforeseen expenses? Saving doesn’t have to be hard, although it does take discipline. Small adjustments in your daily routine can make a big difference in your ability to cover emergency costs or meet a payment due date. In addition, many savings vehicles will pay you interest on the money you have deposited, which will help your money grow over time. Commit to creating new savings habits to help yourself be better prepared.
No matter where you start your financial Spring cleaning, incorporating these tips and tactics into your routine will give your personal finances a fresh start.
Check out our full suite of online personal finance education resources in our Common Trust Federal Credit Union Financial Education Center, which can be found at www.commontrustfcu.org .