It’s that time of year again - time to pencil down your New Year’s Resolutions. According to Statisticbrain.com, “Spending less and saving more” is in the top three New Year’s resolutions in 2015. We are here to help! Although New Year’s resolutions may seem cliché or redundant, they don’t have to be. Resolutions can be a great way to start off the year with a fresh goal in mind. U.S. Eagle has some ideas to help you accomplish your financial resolution – Spend Less, Save More!
The first thing on the list is to create a budget. How many of our readers budget already? If not, that’s okay – it’s never too late to start! According to Balancepro.net, a good rule of thumb is to balance your budget using the following breakdown: 35% housing, 15% debt, 15% transportation, 10% savings, 25% other. Check out your checking account and divvy up your expenses under these categories…it’s surprising how much money we can spend in one month on coffee or eating out. Identify where you overspend. You may overspend on something and not even notice. Keeping track of your transactions allows you to be conscious of every purchase and constantly aware of your balance. Once you have created a budget, find ways to make sure you stick to it! Some suggestions we offer are: direct deposit, manually balancing your checkbook (not relying on online banking), and setting a goal amount to have in your savings account at the end of the year.
Another financial goal that will never go out of style is improving your credit score. Wallethub.com cites that “…the annual difference in cost between good and bad credit is roughly $650 in credit card payments, $1,400 on your auto loan and $2,300 on a mortgage.” That’s a lot of money you could be saving! Keep in mind that debt is not always a bad thing; in fact, it is necessary to build credit. One way to improve your credit score is to maintain a credit card responsibly. Use the credit card and make your payments on time or pay off the balance monthly. This will report positive information to credit bureaus each month. If you’re in trouble with your credit score, U.S. Eagle offers a Credit Builder Credit Card to help you get back on your feet!
Our third financial resolution is to build an emergency fund. Unexpected expenses happen and we need to be prepared for when that time comes. What’s a good amount to have in savings? Six months’ worth of expenses is a good starting point. Calculate how much money you spend every month on your mortgage or rent, car payments, insurances, gas, groceries, etc. and multiply this amount times six. Create your emergency fund based on that number. We encourage you to save a little more than six months’ worth of expenses, but this will take time.
Our fourth financial resolution recommendation is to utilize automated payments. Avoid missing those due dates by scheduling payments to come out of your account automatically. Missing a payment usually results in a late fee, damage to your credit score, and lastly, a phone call to the company asking for mercy for about thirty minutes. If you don’t like automated payments, set up reminders. These alerts will notify you when a payment is approaching.
Our last financial resolution for 2016 is to make financial literacy a priority for you and your family. In a 2015 survey by Stanford & Poor’s, the United States ranked 14th globally for financial literacy. We need to work together to improve our understanding of managing money starting with our youth. The internet is a great resource to find information about budgeting, your credit score, saving, and more. U.S. Eagle offers free financial literacy for youth. We also offer free and confidential financial counseling and education through Balance. If you have any questions, come visit one of our friendly staff members who are more than willing to assist you. Remember, our mission at U.S. Eagle is to “Improve the financial well-being of each member and the communities we serve through trusted relationships.”