Tag Archives: finances

Save Smarter: Get Financially Fit for 2019

Make these four financial resolutions now to start your year off strong. 

Presented by Member One Federal Credit Union

It’s January and the gyms are full—we hope you’re making good progress on your new year’s wellness resolutions so far. But there’s another type of fitness you should also be focusing on at the start of 2019: your financial fitness. Flex your money muscles for the new year with these goals. 

1. Strengthen your savings. If you don’t currently have an emergency savings fund—or you do but it’s looking a bit scrawny—this needs to be a top priority. Many financial experts recommend stashing three to six months’ worth of necessary expenses in your emergency fund. It’s best to keep this money separate from your checking account. Once you have several thousand saved, consider depositing your emergency funds into a money market account, where you’ll earn more interest without sacrificing instant access to your savings. 

2. Beef up your credit. Many of your long-term financial goals will depend on this, so make sure your credit is in good shape. You can get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and Transunion) once every 12 months via the federally authorized website annualcreditreport.com, and the start of the new year is a perfect time to do so. Scan your report for discrepancies and signs of identity theft. If your credit isn’t as good as you’d like, take steps to improve it, such as getting your credit card balances below 30 percent of your total available credit. 

3. Burn fat from your budget. Take a close look at your spending and you’ll likely find areas that could use a slim down. Budgeting apps like Mint.com, Goodbudget.com, and Youneedabudget.com make it easy to track spending on your smartphone, or good old-fashioned spreadsheets work just as well. Another trick to try is starting the new year with a month-long cash diet, which means taking out a set amount of cash each week and using it to pay for everything other than monthly bills (no swiping plastic allowed). Just like at the gym, exercising your budget works best when you have a specific goal, so visualize what you’ll do with the extra money you save—whether that’s paying off high-interest debt or treating yourself to a tropical vacation. 

4. Set the pace for retirement. By looking at your current retirement savings and considering how many years you have until your target date, you’ll get an idea of whether you’re running a marathon or a sprint at this point. If your retirement savings are a little behind where they should be, it might be time to start pushing yourself a little harder. Consider your age and risk tolerance when determining how aggressive you’d prefer to be with your retirement accounts, and aim for a good mix of stocks, bonds, and share certificates. It’s always wise to speak with a financial advisor about your specific situation. 

Join Member One here each month for more money-saving tips and financial advice! Be sure to visit their website, www.memberonefcu.com, for more info on their products and services. Member One Federal Credit Union is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration. 

Save Smarter: Spring Clean Your Finances

Put the shivering cold behind you and look ahead to warmer temperatures. Spring is coming! But this time of year isn’t just about rain showers and blooming flowers—it’s time for some spring cleaning, which includes tidying up your finances. Follow these tips to de-clutter your financial life and give you a fresh start for spring.

Close dormant accounts. A financial institution will typically send you a notification if you have an open account that hasn’t been accessed for a set amount of time. If you don’t plan on using the account, close it as soon as possible. This ensures that you’ll avoid any dormant account fees and recoup any remaining funds. It also helps simplify your finances by reducing the number of accounts you have to monitor, which makes maintaining your household budget easier.

Check your credit report and fix any discrepancies. By law, you’re entitled to one free credit report each year, which can be accessed by visiting annualcreditreport.com. You’ll receive a report from each of the three major credit bureaus. Review them to make sure the information looks familiar. If you see something you don’t recognize, like an account you didn’t open, contact the bureau directly to address the discrepancy.

Go paperless and set up automatic bill pay. If you find yourself tossing aside paper account statements, opt to receive electronic statements instead. Not only is it better for the environment, you’ll reduce clutter and receive your account information faster. Another way to reduce clutter and increase efficiency is to set up automatic bill pay, which can typically be done through your financial institution’s online banking system. This will help eliminate your chances of missing a payment and being charged a late fee.

Organize and shred financial documents. Save it or shred it? Experts recommend keeping tax-related documents for seven years, which should cover you in case of an audit. If you’re a homeowner, keep documents related to the purchase of your home, records from any major improvements, and mortgage paperwork. Things like receipts and bills can be safely shred once they clear your account. Rather than piling financial paperwork in one place to deal with later, set up a filing system so you can quickly store what you need to keep and shred what you don’t.

Presented by Member One Federal Credit Union