April is Financial Literacy Month, also known as Financial Capability Month! To celebrate, the First Financial team is sharing their best money advice to help you build the financial skills you need to meet your goals. Knowledge is power, and the more you know about finances, the better habits you’ll build over time!
What is financial literacy?
Before we begin, let’s talk about what financial literacy is and what it means for your future. Financial literacy is the ability to understand and use money management skills like budgeting, properly using credit cards, investing, and more. Having a strong relationship with money is crucial in being able to navigate through life. For example, the more financially literate you are, the more likely you’ll be able to avoid fraud or debt. The more you understand about credit cards, the less likely you are to rack up charge after charge and lower your credit score.
How to become more financially literate
There are so many ways to build your financial management skills! For one, you can read and subscribe to financial blogs like ours (wink wink). Many credit unions like ours also offer no-cost virtual seminars and publications about various financial topics. If you’re on the go and prefer podcasts, we recommend you take a look at this list for ideas as well! Overall though, working with a financial professional will help you get the guidance you need based on your situation. Be patient—financial literacy is a lifelong journey and we are here to help!
Tips from First Financial employees
Some of our financial experts shared their top money tips they want everyone to know. Our staff’s advice ranges from budgeting and credit card management to everyday savings.
- Create a simple budget: “To start your own simple budget, create a list of your total take-home income, your total fixed expenses, your total variable expenses, and your monthly savings. Check back once a month to see if you’re on track or if you need to adjust your budget.” – Issa Stephan, President/CEO
- Review your subscriptions: “Take the time to cancel any unused or unwanted subscriptions (like streaming services), and reallocate those expenses into your budget on something you do use – or put the extra money toward any existing debt.” – Julie Brandt-Olivier, Lending Manager
- Don’t forget about your credit score: “Build your credit score! It’s the most significant piece of financial data that will impact your day-to-day life.” – Chantel Baptiste, Business Development Officer
- Limit your spending: “Make a budget, set and stick to limits for discretionary spending such as entertainment, travel, and other non-essential items. Always include savings into your budget too.” – Terriann Warn, Chief Financial Officer
- Pay your bills on time: “On-time payments have the greatest impact on a good credit score.” – Nancy Culp, Chief Lending Officer
- Learn debt repayment strategies: “To eliminate revolving debt on multiple credit cards, focus on paying extra on the card with the highest interest rate. When that debt is eliminated, take that monthly payment and add it to the regular monthly payment of your next card with a balance and high rate, until that debt is eliminated. Repeat as needed.” – Michael Walker, Assistant Vice President of IT
- Don’t live beyond your means: With regard to credit cards, don’t live beyond your means. If you can’t afford it, you don’t need it. – Doreen Cutrona, Assistant Vice President of Member Operations
You can find more money advice on our First Scoop blog! Or, if you’re looking for more specific advice based on your situation, call us at 732.312.1500 or stop by any of our local branches. Together, we can increase your financial literacy and help reach your goals!