Get Financially Fit
January 10, 2024
It’s never too late to assess your finances, gain control, and stick to a new budget or savings plan. Taking control of your personal finances will allow you to save and prepare for unexpected expenses. Get financially fit by following the tips below:
Consider treating yourself to a gift of a financial organization system. Alphabetized file folders or filing systems specifically for financial organization are helpful when preparing for tax season. While you're getting organized, consider buying a shredder to keep your personal information safe from identity theft.
Create a Budget
Track your income and expenses to see how much money you have coming in and how much you spend. If you have debt, establishing a budget will help you pay down your debt while saving. Use computer software programs or basic budgeting worksheets to help create your budget. Include as much information as you can and review your budget regularly.
- Identify how you spend your money.
- Set realistic goals, especially if you plan to cut some of your expenses.
- Track your spending and review your budget often. Check out ABA Foundation’s tips for more information on developing a budget.
Lower Your Debt
Debt from student loans, mortgages, and credit cards is pretty common. Most families carry about $10,000 in credit card debt. Establish a budget to pay down debts while you save. Avoid spending more money than you bring in, as that leads to financial stress.
Points to consider when cutting debt:
- Pay more than the minimum due and pay on time.
- Pay off debts with higher interest rates first.
- Transfer high-rate debts to credit cards with a lower interest rate.
- Use loans for purchases that will appreciate in value like a home.
Save for the Unexpected and Beyond
Pay yourself first. Saving is important; it ensures a comfortable future that can endure financial surprises. No matter how old you are, it's never too late to begin saving.
- Save at least 10 percent of your income for retirement. Enroll in a retirement plan or consider optimizing an established retirement plan. Contribute at least the maximum amount that your employer will match and increase your contribution as your income increases. Contributions made to these types of plans are tax deductible. If your employer does not offer a retirement savings plan, many banks offer Individual Retirement Accounts. IRAs offer tax-deferred growth, meaning you pay taxes on your investment gains when you make withdrawals.
- Financial advisors often recommend keeping about three months’ salary in a savings account in case of financial emergencies like hospital bills or home repair costs.
- If you receive direct deposit at work, ask your employer to send a specific amount to your savings account for an easy and convenient way to save. If your employer doesn't offer direct deposit, you can either set up an automatic transfer through Online & Mobile Banking or reach out to your local REB location for assistance.
Source: American Bankers Association (ABA) Foundation, 2024