Effectively saving your money can enable you to become financially independent, save for retirement, and prepare for the unforeseen expenses that pop up in life. Not saving or planning for your future could deter you from having financial peace of mind and security. With this in mind, Winslow Community Federal Credit Union has put together 5 Financial Tips You Can Really Follow in order to help you better manage your personal finances and still be able to have some fun in the meantime!
The most important rule of thumb here is to: create a budget you can easily stick to. Luckily in this day in age, there are several budgeting tools that connect directly to your online banking applications that will help you to monitor your spending habits and adhere to your budgeting objectives. Try downloading a budgeting app such as Mint. This app allows you to manage your money in one place, easily keep track of your spending, track and pay bills, get free credit score monitoring, and easily create budgets.
On a mobile device? Download the Mint app here!
2. Know How to Use Your Credit Cards
Credit usage can be confusing. Perhaps you’ve been paying on time and your credit card provider increased your limit. HINT: this doesn’t mean you use it. If you don’t have the money to immediately pay off your credit card balance, then I would refrain from making that purchase with your credit card. As a general rule of thumb, you should only utilize 30% of your credit limit. For example, if you have been given a credit limit of $500, you should only charge up to $150 on the card. If you continue to carry a balance month to month on your card that exceeds 30% of your credit limit, it will actually negatively impact your credit score. This is referred to as your credit utilization ratio. Creditors and lenders like to see that you are not over utilizing your available credit, as it shows that you are responsible. A great tool to use as a guide when building or repairing your credit is Credit Sesame. This tool provides users with free credit monitoring, in addition to personal recommendations on how to improve your score, such as matching you to appropriate credit cards based on your approval odds.
On a mobile device? Download the Credit Sesame app here!
3. Be a Savvy Saver
Just because you have the money in your wallet, doesn’t mean you should spend it. Due to several factors, many of us may find ourselves living week to week, but I promise you – you don’t have to! Though it’s important to live a little and enjoy life, having a substantial savings to fall back on is extremely important and will help to alleviate a lot of stress. After establishing your budget, a good saving trick is to take a certain percent of your weekly income and put it away in a separate account and forget about it. A general rule of thumb when it comes to saving money is to: PAY YOURSELF FIRST. After you receive your paycheck, before you buy anything, pay yourself first. Then budget the remainder accordingly to ensure you are able to purchase your necessities. Create a mental rule that you are not to touch this money unless in an emergent situation. This is a great trick and eventually it will not only become a habit, but it will become fun to watch your savings grow. Pretty soon you’ll find yourself excited about saving and you’ll only become more and more conscious of what you spend your money on!
4. Think Ahead ... Like Way, Way Ahead
RETIRMENT! Who’s ready? Though we can probably all agree we’re physically/mentally ready for retirement, we want to be able to say the same in terms of being financially ready. Here’s your rule of thumb for this one: IT’S NEVER TOO EARLY, START NOW. There are plenty of options to explore when planning for retirement. Here at WCFCU, we actually offer free financial planning to our members via Northeast Planning Associates. The next time you come visit us, feel free to ask one of our tellers to schedule you a consultation with Zach Longley. He’ll help you explore your retirement planning options and get you on the fast track to the golf course!
5. Live a Little!
Now that you’re a super savvy saver, don’t forget to indulge once and a while and treat yourself for your exceptional spending/saving habits. At the end of the day, you want to enjoy life, see new things, and have new experiences. Always be weary of impulse buying, but if you stumble across something you really want or want to do and it falls within your budget, do it and enjoy it! A good rule of thumb for this one is: if you see something you really want, consider holding off a week or two. If you still want it after that period of time, then make the purchase! It’s all about balance, my friends. Make good choices, do the best you can, and enjoy!