3 Habits of Highly Effective Savers

When life changes, adjust.
Whether it is having babies, job changes, or the purchase of a new home, life is constantly changing. Every life changing event leads to an increase or decrease of your available funds. People who save effectively will look at these situations as opportunities to adjust the way they save. This may mean a temporary hold on saving, but always make sure you plan for a time when you can begin saving money again.

Play for keeps.
People who are great at saving don’t look at their paychecks as something to spend. They look at their paychecks as something to keep. Center your financial decisions around the question: How do I spend less, save more, and still obtain the things I need?

Set aside part of any extra earnings.
While your yearly income is (hopefully) predictable, we sometimes receive money we did not expect or budget for. This can be a tax return, bonus at work, birthday money, credit card rewards, etc. A great saver will put at least a percentage of each windfall they receive into their savings account.

If you’re looking to save, check out your local credit union like First Financial! We offer a great variety of options in savings accounts and savings certificates, which are Federally Insured by the NCUA.*

*A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account. All personal memberships are part of the Rewards First program and a $5 per month non-participation fee is charged to the base savings account for memberships not meeting the minimum requirements of the program. Click here to view full Rewards First program details. Accounts for children age 13 and under are excluded from this program.

Article Source: Robbie Young for CUInsight.com

12 Tips to Stay in the Money Saving Mindset

If saving money isn’t your strong suit, don’t worry. Changing your money habits will have its challenges, but with a little effort, you can stop making so many unnecessary purchases and start building a sizable savings.

The first step is to think about your goals and priorities. Why do you want to save money? You might be looking for the security of an emergency fund, hoping to spend less time working, or preparing to buy a new car.

Whether your savings journey is just starting out or you’re already a saver and want to keep it that way, these 12 tips will help keep you from backsliding into poor money habits.

1. Remember why saving is important to you.

Think about why you want to save money, and take every opportunity to remind yourself. Talk about it out loud, or write it down.

2. Hold yourself accountable.

Budgets, spreadsheets, and shopping lists are enough to put the average consumer to sleep, but don’t be afraid to give this strategy a try. People who are already in the habit of jotting down notes or lists will likely be successful making strict shopping lists and sticking to them.

Once you make a reasonable budget, don’t stray from it. Check it over every once in a while and try to eliminate or reduce any expenses.

3. When you get a raise, don’t increase your spending.

After you get a raise it might seem natural to spend a little more. The problem is that a more expensive lifestyle could jeopardize your saving behavior. Think of a pay raise as an effortless way to speed up your savings.

4. Create a vision board.

It’s easier to reach a financial goal if you can see yourself accomplishing it. One way is to create a financial vision board. Cut out pictures of the financial goals you desire to reach and put them in a photo collage together.

5. Separate needs from wants.

You may fall out of the money saving mindset when you spend money on wants instead of needs. The two can be easily confused, especially if you really want something – you might become so invested in it that you convince yourself that it is a need and not a want. Prevent this by taking your time with purchasing decisions.

6. Learn why you spend.

It will be easier to save when you get to the bottom of why you spend. Do you buy a lot of clothes because you want to impress someone? Are you always spending money on eating out because you don’t set aside time to cook? If you’re more focused on impressing others or you haven’t established financial discipline, it is time to start figuring out these bad habits.

7. Address lingering money problems.

If you want to stay in the money saving mindset, you need to take care of any destructive money issues. Maybe you’re not used to having a lot of money, so you tend to save your money and then find an excuse to spend it. Consider consulting with a financial therapist or joining a financial support group.

8. Ask for Help.

No matter how hard it gets to save money, stay committed. If you find it hard to continue saving money, ask a friend or family member to help you stick to your goal. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

9. Make a game out of saving money.

Saving money doesn’t have to be a chore. Make a game out of it, so you can stay motivated. Invite your friends to join and try the 52-Week Money Challenge, which requires you to save a certain amount of money each week during the year.

10. Track your progress.

Don’t get too comfortable after reaching a big savings milestone. Once you’ve saved a certain amount of money, it’s easy to fall back into your old habits. Continue to keep an eye on how you are doing with your goals.

11. Keep educating yourself.

Continue to learn as much as you can about how to manage your finances. If you want to be a money success, it’s important for you to keep feeding on new financial information every day. The more you learn about money and how it works, the more you will commit to making savings a priority.

12. Celebrate successes.

Keep moving forward by giving yourself a pat on the back when you reach a goal. Every time you reach a savings milestone, celebrate – but don’t celebrate so much that you get yourself back into debt.

Article Source: Sheiresa Ngo for cheatsheet.com

 

Throw a Super Bowl Party That Doesn’t Break the Bank

Now that the holidays are behind us, it’s time to plan for the next big event. That’s right—Super Bowl Sunday is just around the corner! As the NFL’s top two teams prepare to battle at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, the festivities leading up to the game will clearly show that the NFL has spared no expense in trying to make Super Bowl LIII the greatest championship game in history. So when it comes to planning your Super Bowl party, we suggest taking a different—and slightly more sensible—financial approach.

8 Ways to Throw a Budget-Friendly Super Bowl Party

If you’re looking for some ways to host a Super Bowl party that’s as frugal as it is fun-filled, here are a few of our favorite suggestions.

Start with a financial game plan.  Sounds better than “make a budget,” doesn’t it? Since Super Bowl parties are all about football, it makes sense to prepare like a coach. Setting a spending limit before you shop will help you stiff-arm the creative displays and impulse items at the grocery store. To quote Super Bowl-winning QB, Russel Wilson, “The separation is in the preparation.”

Team up with a co-host. Since football is a team sport, why not recruit a co-host to help you plan your party? Not only can the two of you share the cost of food and decorations, you’ll be able to split the stress of planning as well. Sounds like a win-win, doesn’t it?

Digital invites over classic invitations. Sure, Pinterest is packed with clever ideas for intricate Super Bowl invitations, but you know which detail those posts forget to mention? Postage costs. Rather than sending out old-school invites, create a Facebook event and share it with your friends or jump over to Evite.com, where you can design and send online invitations for free!

Downplay the decorations. Let’s face it, even though extravagant decorations might make impressive Instagram posts, people aren’t coming to your Super Bowl party to marvel at your elaborate sandwich stadium and coordinated team napkin displays. Don’t overdo it with the decorations. Dollar store party supplies are perfect.

Generic snacks: The Real MVP. Your guests will probably be snacking from the pre-game festivities to the post-game trophy presentation. What they won’t be doing is critiquing the subtle flavor undertones of your chips and pretzels. So rather than springing for brand name snack foods, grab the store-brand counterparts, serve them in a giant bowl, and kick back knowing you have money left in your food budget.

Encourage crowd participation. Food and drinks are usually the most expensive part of a Super Bowl party—especially if the beverages are of the adult variety. A pot luck meal plan and BYOB policy are great ways to ensure refreshment costs are divided evenly and everyone is guaranteed to have at least one dish they’ll enjoy.

Save big with Super Bowl promos. If you decide to provide all the food for your party, you might as well look for the best deals. Keep an eye on your local grocery store flyers, as they routinely run special sales on traditional party food. If you’re trying to stay out of the kitchen, check your local restaurants for money-saving party promos.

Make post-game meal plans. You plan, prepare, and present a spread of tasty food for your guests. Then, when the game’s over, you have to figure out what to do with the leftovers. Fortunately, game day favorites like burgers, chili, and sandwiches can make delicious meals for a few days after the big game. This makes meal planning easy and lunch costs less expensive.

With a little creativity and some careful planning, it’s entirely possible to throw a great party without throwing away money in the process. Whether you use all these ideas or just a few that work for you, following these tips will help you host a winning party without spending more than you should.

4 Ways to Save in January

The holidays are over and that means most of us are strapped for cash. January can be a tough month for many recovering from holiday spending. Here are four ways you can save a little this month as you work to get your finances back on track.

Winterize your home.
This is the coldest time of the year, so make sure your house is ready for the cool temps. There are a variety of things you can do to save this month by lowering your energy bills. Check out these simple tips for winterizing your home. Your wallet will thank you.

Eat what’s in season.
After all the groceries needed for preparing those holiday meals, it’s no wonder you’ll want to cut down on food costs this month. Check out the various fruits and vegetables that are in season in January, many of which are sold at a lower cost. Surprisingly there are a number of yummy seasonal foods that are at their prime in the dead of winter, such as: broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, grapefruit, kale, leeks, lemons, oranges, parsnips, tangerines, and turnips.

New year, new budget.
Take a look back at 2018, what worked for your finances and what didn’t? Learning from the past is an excellent way to make smarter choices this year. This month, take a look at the year ahead, anticipate months that will be more costly, and plan accordingly.

Shop sales.
After holiday sales can be an excellent way to save on items you need for the coming year. Check out reduced prices on everyday household items (like household cleaners, soaps, and baking supplies) that are marked down simply because they come in holiday packaging.

Article Source: Wendy Moody for CUInsight.com

A Few Things You Can Cut From Your 2019 Budget

When it comes to finances, what would you like to do differently in 2019? When looking at your money and the way you spent it in 2018, what needs to change?

Here are a few things you should remove from your budget in the new year:

Unnecessary daily expenses: We all like coffee every day. But do you really need Starbucks every morning? It’s gets very expensive if you spend at least $5 a day buying coffee. That’s $25 each work week and $100 or more a month!  This will eventually add up to well over $1,000 at the end of the year. Instead, stock up coffee to brew at home and use the price difference to beef up your emergency fund.

Phone apps: The vast majority of phone apps are free, but for a lot of people – spending 99 cents on one here and there doesn’t seem like a big deal. If you’re one of those people who spends a lot of time on your smartphone throughout the day, then it might be time to think about which apps are costing you money (whether it’s up front or from in-app purchases).

Spending with coupons: You’re probably thinking, “this sounds like saving money!” While coupons can be helpful tools, they’re only helpful if the coupon is something you were already planning on buying. Don’t be swayed by a deal or discount if it’s not something you need. Buying things you want (and don’t need), is an easy way to throw money away. Make smart or necessary purchases, and use coupons to make those buys even better.

Kick 2019 off right – think savings instead of spending!

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

 

5 Tips to Saving on Your Gym Membership Before the New Year

With all the excitement, festivities, and of course food around the holiday season, the last thing you’re probably thinking about is the gym. Most of us probably eat to our heart’s content over the holiday season and wait until January to deal with the aftermath. However, it might be worthwhile to start planning ahead now to get the best deals at the gym.

Once the new year arrives, people seem to turn to “get in shape” mode, which means hitting the gym hard. You definitely see the best deals at the end and beginning of the year, so be proactive now. Here are some tips to getting deals at the gym in the new year:

1. Sign Up for a Trial

It’s hard to commit to a gym membership without testing it out first. Almost all gyms offer free trials, some for a day and others for up to a week. Use your trial pass to get a feel for the gym, what equipment they have and whether or not it’s the right place for your workout. Also, be sure to visit during the times you would normally workout, to see what the crowd is like.

2. Pay Upfront

Most gyms will bill you month-to-month with charges based on the level of access you want to the gym. However, if you offer to pay upfront, you might be able to score a better deal. Many gyms will have promotions that may include anywhere from one to three months free if you pay for a year in advance. Yes, it’s a large sum of money initially – but doing so can save you money in the long run.

3. Be on the Lookout for Offers

Of course, the biggest way to save money on your gym membership is to take advantage of offers and promotions. And the best time to do so is during the new year. January is the busiest time of the year for most gyms and they’ll be offering many different deals and incentives to get more people to join. Look out for discounted monthly fees, waived enrollment and processing fees, and other perks.

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate

As with almost anything in life, don’t be afraid to negotiate. There are so many gyms to choose from and all of them are competing for your business. There is almost always wiggle room to negotiate your membership. You never know until you ask!

5. Create a Gym at Home

Don’t worry if you still can’t fit a gym membership into your budget, because you can create a gym at home. All you really need is a set of dumbbells and an imagination. Look to Youtube for free exercise videos and tips, or on warmer days go out for a run. You can definitely accomplish a lot without having expensive equipment.

The biggest key to getting in shape is willpower, and you don’t need to pay for that.

Article Source: Connie Mei for Moneyning.com