Although dieting and good health may top most people’s New Year’s resolutions, WWFCU thinks you should add some financial resolutions to your list. Below are our top ten – feel free to pick and choose the ones that work best for you.
- Sign up for credit monitoring
Periodically checking your credit union and credit card statements isn’t enough these days. You need to get serious about monitoring your credit this year. First, start by getting your free annual credit report and review it for any errors. Then, you might consider signing up for a credit monitoring service. If you’re a WWFCU Visa Rewards cardholder, you can get free identity theft protection as well as credit monitoring. Non-cardholding WWFCU members can pay a small fee for this service.
- Pay yourself first
You’ve probably heard this a lot – but haven’t done anything about it. The best way to save money is to not have access to it. Many direct deposit programs let you deposit your paycheck into several accounts. Make one of these an IRA or savings account and resolve to save at least 5% of every paycheck. In a few years’ time, you’ll be glad you did.
- Pay your bills right after payday
It’s too easy to spend money if it’s just sitting in your checking account. So, once you’ve contributed 5% to your savings account or IRA, it’s time to pay your bills. Don’t wait beyond a day or two after payday, or you’ll find irresistible things to spend your money on instead. Apps like BillTracker (iOS, Google), Mobills or Mint can help keep you and your bills on track.
- Pay more than the minimum on your credit card bills
The average credit cardholder has a balance of about $6,000. If you make just the minimum payment each month, it’ll take you 14 yearsto pay your balance off, compared to 3.5 years if you pay the minimum payment plus $100 each month. Even if you can’t afford adding $100 per payment, any amount over the minimum payment will shave years off of your debt.
- Open an IRA
It’s a fact – you’re now one year closer to your retirement. Whether you have ten or thirty years between now and retirement, the time to save for it is now. WWFCU has simple individual retirement accounts (IRA) that you can open today.
- Create an emergency fund – and add to itmonthly
If you’re one of the more than half of Americans without an emergency fund … you’re tempting fate. Instead of putting yourself at risk of a financial catastrophe, it’s time to build up an emergency fund. Ideally, it needs to be 12-18 months of your take-home income. But we live in the real world, so consider putting at least 5% of your income into an emergency savings account each month and get a head start.
- Make one extra payment per year on your mortgage
Did you know that just one extra payment on your mortgage each year can shorten the length of your loan by four to five years? It’s worth it to scrape together the extra funds to wrap up your loan that much sooner.
- Improve your credit score
The average credit score is 683. When you consider 800+ is a perfect score, most of us have plenty of room for improvement! To help boost your score this year: keep an open credit card account in good standing and keep credit inquiries to a minimum. Also, getting that free annual credit report will help you stay on top of what areas of your credit need improving and give you the chance to resolve any inaccuracies on it.
- Make a budget and follow it
We all talk about making a budget. Some actually do it. Fewer really stick to it. Be one of the few and put together a realistic budget for your household and follow it. There are tons of apps out there to help these days such as Mint, YNAB, Wally and Mvelopes. If you own a WWFCU Visa Rewards Card or debit card, you can take advantage of our free CardNav app that lets you set dollar limits for transactions and more.
- Find a better job
Instead of focusing solely on what you’re spending and saving, it’s important to also focus on your income. It may be time to boost your income by either finding a better paying job or going for that lucrative promotion at work. Many of your money problems this year could get resolved by this one basic change.