Set goals for a successful new year
(Richmond, Virginia – December 16, 2013) -- It’s that time again: Time to make your New Year’s resolutions. In addition to losing weight, exercising, or quitting a bad habit, many people are making financial resolutions for 2014. Here are a few tips to help you get ahead in the new year:
1. Develop a budget. Make a new start in 2014 with a practical budget. Track expenses to determine where your money is going and consider where you can cut back. Tools like MoneyTracker, which VACU offers to online banking users, can help you monitor spending, establish a budget and set savings goals. In addition, VACU makes many budgeting worksheets and other free financial education resources available to members through the BALANCE Financial Fitness program.
2. Review basic accounts. Look for checking and savings accounts with no or a low minimum balance requirement to avoid fees.
3. Examine the rates you’re paying on debt. To reduce the cost of your debt, consider whether refinancing your car loan or mortgage would make sense. By lowering your interest rate, you could save on your monthly payment or shorten the term of your loan. If you’re carrying a balance on a credit card from elsewhere, consider transferring the balance to a lower rate card at VACU. It could help you pay off your debt faster and save money.
4. Establish emergency savings. Most financial experts agree everyone should have a rainy day fund. Three to six months of essential living expenses is the recommended target in the event of a job loss, medical emergency or other crisis.
5. Pay yourself first. Consider your savings an essential expense. If your employer offers direct deposit, you may be able to automatically put a portion of your paycheck in savings. A good target to work toward would be saving at least 10 percent of your monthly income. If that’s a stretch for you, start small and build up.
6. Sign up for Change Jar, which rounds up the amount of your debit card purchases and transfers the difference into your savings account. Over time, those small transfers can really add up.
7. Set a goal. Once you’ve established sufficient emergency savings, begin saving toward a specific goal. For example, saving a little all year long could make your holiday shopping a lot less painful next year. Or, you could accumulate enough to make a sizable down payment on a major purchase.
8. Don’t neglect the long term. Take advantage of employer-based retirement savings programs. It will reduce the amount of your taxable income and may carry a matching amount from the employer. Depending on your age and family situation, you may have other long-term goals, such as college education for a child or grandchild.
9. Seek help. Long-term financial goals require thoughtful planning. Everyone’s situation, time horizon and risk tolerance is different, so go with a trusted financial advisor.
Follow a few steps like these and you’ll be on your way to keeping your financial resolutions in 2014.
A member-owned financial cooperative with more than 229,000 members, Virginia Credit Union provides a variety of affordable banking services, loans and mortgages, checking and savings services, and financial education resources. Virginia Credit Union is federally insured by NCUA and is an equal housing opportunity lender.
Media Contact: Glenn Birch, firstname.lastname@example.org, (804) 560-5664