Take 1 Step Toward Your New Year Financial Goals
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The beginning of the year seems to be equally full of amazing potential, with a side of overwhelm. Everyone is wanting to lose more weight, read more, exercise more, travel more, save more, create more, etc. Basically, everyone begins the new year hoping that it will bring MORE.
Maybe this describes you. We did a Facebook contest a few weeks ago where many of you said paying off debt, saving more or buying a house was on your 2022 agenda. So, we wanted to take a minute to give you a little boost in whatever your 2022 plans might be.
The main thing to remember is that everything doesn’t have to be done right now, or all at once. Each goal listed below has a series of steps to achieve, so don’t get overwhelmed with the process but focus on the first step. Then the second. Then the third. And so on. For today, let’s just talk about step one.
Goal: I want to be more organized in my finances.
Step 1: Sign up for e-statements to cut down on the paper clutter and give you access to your monthly statements whenever you need them. If you’re already in the SignetFCU-Mobile app, you can login, then click on “Documents”. You’ll be able to sign up for e-statements there. Then, anytime you need to review them you can go back to that tab. This step only takes a minute or two, so it’s a great first step toward this goal.
Goal: I want to pay down debt.
Step 1: It may be an unpopular thing to do, but budgeting is the best first step you can take. Analyze what you’ve been putting toward debt and then determine what you can cut so you can increase your payments. Even $10 extra a month can have a big impact on your payment plan. Can you pay extra each month to get your principal balance down? Tracking your progress increases the reality that tackling debt is possible. Each month you’ll be closer than you were the month before. Seeing that number decrease, trust us, it’s a great feeling.
Goal: I want to stop overdrafting or being behind on paying bills.
Step 1: Same as above. Setting up a budget allows you to know when it’s OK or not OK to keep spending money.
Bonus Step: Use the Payments tab inside the SignetFCU-Mobile app. As soon as you get that bill in the mail, pay it. Using the app, it literally takes about 5 minutes to pay all your bills each month. If you know you have monthly bills that recur, set up auto-pay from the payments tab to make this monthly task even easier.
Goal: I want to save more.
Step 1: Track your spending for at least 1-2 months. Then, review, without passing judgment. In this phase you’re just learning about your spending and saving habits. It’s giving you a better picture of what your finances look like. So, is there something you could have cut? Did you have anything left over after all your expenses were paid? No? Why not? Yes? What would you like to put that money toward? Let this 2 month research phase inform your future budget and savings goals.
Goal: I want next Christmas to not be as stressful as last Christmas.
Step 1: Christmas time will probably always have an element of stress, but if finances contribute at all, then we can help you take action. Start a Christmas Savings Account. Then, start reviewing last Christmas to see what your Christmas goal should be. Or, is there a way to minimize gift giving in the coming year? There are many ways for you to minimize stress during Christmas, but start by funding your Christmas budget now and continue throughout the year.
Goal: I want to buy a house.
Step 1: Do the math. Check your rate options and don’t just look at the monthly payments. (Want help with this? Schedule an appointment with one of our loan officers.) Explore how different credit scores, loan rates and down payments can impact what you can buy and when. Here are just a few things you should be looking at/considering as you build your house purchasing budget:
-Any added expenses this house might entail (ex. water, trash, higher electric, gas bill, lawn care equipment, HOA fee, etc.)
-Ernest money (This is money you put down before you’ve ever won the bid. You’re just showing the homeowner you’re serious and ready to finalize your offer.)
-Moving costs (We’re not just talking about paying movers here. Think through what you’re purchasing. Do the windows match what you have now? If not, you’ll need additional shades, blinds or curtains. Are you expanding into a bigger space with extra room(s)? You might need to budget for additional furniture. Is it a small space? You might need to budget for a storage unit until you have time to fully decide on exactly what all you do/don’t need.)
-Home improvements (Want to paint? Need new flooring? How’s the roof? Appliances all new?)
Does this list scare you a little? Let it empower you. You will be better prepared having done the math and won’t be shocked, but prepared, when extra expenses pop up. This exercise helps you create a realistic savings and purchasing goal. You’ll know what you need before you find the home of your dreams.
Whatever your goals are for the new year, usually the best thing you can do is sit down with your spouse and build a plan, including a realistic but fluid budget. Tackle this first step, then begin to work on reaching your goal. The year has potential, so take hold of it and get going!
Dream. Budget. See it through.