It’s January, and if you looking at the upcoming year – you are (hopefully) thinking about your finances and trying to plan ahead. Here are three items to definitely include in your annual financial outlook, and this is a great time to review them.
Review Your Credit
With mobile phones, laptops, tablets and apps, it’s easy to stay connected to our finances these days. Your credit score is something that you should especially be paying close attention to. If you are thinking about buying a house, car, or acquiring any type of loan, knowing your credit score is very important. It’s also significant to review your credit report to see if everything is accurate, especially if you were subject to recent fraud or a data breach. Everyone is entitled to a free credit report from each credit reporting agency every year, and the start of a new year is a good time to review yours as you plan for the year ahead. Not sure where to start? Check out annualcreditreport.com – it’s free, easy, and monitors your credit from all 3 major credit bureaus!
Focus on Saving Money
Even if you did a great job of saving money last year, you probably don’t have as much saved as you might like as of now. Fortunately, it’s the beginning of the year and there are many ways to reach your savings goals by December. An easy way is to automate your savings. More than likely your paychecks are directly deposited to your bank account. It’s extremely easy to add another account to your direct deposit, all you need to do it choose an amount you’d like to save for this year and redirect those funds to a separate savings account that you’ll vow to not touch during the year. Another way to save is add more to your retirement savings. If your employer matches or contributes in any way to your retirement – be sure to look at this and participate. This will mean a great deal later in your life. Not sure where to get started with retirement planning? Make an appointment with the Investment & Retirement Center located at First Financial.* Our financial advisors are here to talk you through the planning process and ensure you feel comfortable in your financial future!
The last way to save money is to go on a “financial fast.” We can almost guarantee that most of your spending doesn’t fall within the “need” category, right? Take a good look at how you’re spending your money and cut out your “wants.” This year, try not to waste your money either. Are you actually using the gym membership you are paying for, or watching Netflix or Hulu? If you aren’t – think about canceling these types of services and only pay for ones you are using on a regular basis.
Are You Prepared for the Unexpected?
If your emergency fund isn’t in good shape, or if you don’t have an emergency fund at all – make it your immediate new year’s resolution. If you have credit card debt that has been lingering for years, don’t let it stay around another year. Review your monthly budget as well, and make sure it fits your lifestyle and expenses. Maybe you keep track of your monthly bills, but what about the annual ones you might sometimes forget about? Be sure to think about any annual fees coming for the year ahead and try not to let them sneak up on you (i.e. property taxes each quarter, annual gym membership fee, and so on). A good strategy to follow this year is to write down or make a note in your smartphone for any once a year or quarterly bills that come up – this way you won’t forget about them moving forward.
Don’t forget that as a First Financial member, you are eligible to make an appointment or stop into any branch for an annual financial review. If you’d like to get your new year off on the right foot, contact us today!
*Securities sold, advisory services offered through CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI), member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker/dealer and investment advisor. CBSI is under contract with the financial institution to make securities available to members. Not NCUA/NCUSIF/FDIC insured, May Lose Value, No Financial Institution Guarantee. Not a deposit of any financial institution. CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc., is a registered broker/dealer in all fifty states of the United States of America.
Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com