10 tips that can help you build a sound foundation for reaching all your financial goals:
1. Make sure your financial information and records are organized.
Knowing where important financial information is located and having a system for paying your monthly bills will save time and aggravation.
2. Use direct deposit for your paycheck.
Direct deposit saves time, gets your money working for you faster, and is safe. Simply provide Lone Star Credit Union’s routing number 311079869 and your account number to your payroll department or other source for setting up electronic payments.
3. Use automated savings plans to save for near term purchases and long term financial goals.
This involves setting auto transfers up online or having LSCU transfer a set amount each month into an account you designate—special savings, IRA, money market, etc. It also includes participating in your employer’s retirement plan to save for your retirement.
4. Balance your checking account at least monthly.
This avoids bouncing checks and fees that may be charged if your balance is too low. It is much easier to do this every month than to skip a month or two and then have to deal with multiple statements. Digital banking also makes it easy to check in more than once a month to make sure you are not overspending.
5. Review all your bills and statements as soon as you receive them.
Even if you are not going to pay the bills immediately when you receive them, by reviewing your bills and statements you can identify and correct any errors.
6. Prepare a household spending worksheet.
The process of preparing a spending worksheet will help you identify potential areas for reducing expenses. You would be surprised how quickly small daily purchases for ‘miscellaneous’ items adds up. Work on learning to save this discretionary income instead.
7. Prepare a personal balance sheet periodically.
Having a current personal balance sheet can be handy when you are considering applying for a loan. Over time, you will be able to monitor your progress toward your long term financial goals. Research the value of your home, your cars, 401k’s, and any other ‘assets’. Debts you owe are ‘liabilities’. Any amount left over after deducting liabilities from assets is your ‘net worth’.
8. Make on-time payments & pay more than the minimum amount.
Consider enrolling in automatic payments to ensure your payments are made on time, every time. This will help you avoid late payments fees and prevent damage to your credit score. You can also reduce the amount of interest you may owe on unpaid balances by paying a little extra each month. Paying only the minimum amount will take much longer to pay off your balance and can cost you more over the life of the loan.
9. Understand what you’re paying for.
Be sure to understand any charges or fees that may be listed on your accounts. There is no sense in paying for charges if you do not have to. If you incur a fee, ask the company to explain the charges made and if they have suggestions for avoiding them in the future.
10. Learn more about handling your finances.
The more you know, the easier handling your finances will seem. Try to read the personal finance columns in newspapers or perhaps even subscribe to a personal finance magazine. Find out more about your credit score.