Creating a Financial Plan

Build Your Money Roadmap

Like many people, you may be juggling multiple priorities. For instance, do you pay off all your credit card debt before saving or investing? Or, should you funnel more dollars into your retirement fund? And what about purchasing big-ticket items like a house or car? The truth is—the answers to these questions depend on your individual circumstances, your dreams and goals.

That’s why meeting with a professional financial advisor can help. And while people often think professional advice costs too much, many financial institutions such as SchoolsFirst FCU provide complimentary financial consultations as a benefit of Membership. Learn more about taking advantage of free advice by visiting

Establish a Spending Plan

If you haven’t looked at your budget in a while, it’s time for an annual reboot. Whether you prefer a pencil and paper, or an online budgeting tool, your goal is to figure out where your money goes, and how to manage it better. This spending plan pie chart is a great way to help you get started when making your own plan.

Save More … Automatically

Experts agree that socking away just 10% of your income is not only a great discipline, but it leads to long-lasting security. The trouble is there’s a lot of competing priorities for your hard-earned dollars. That’s why it pays to set up automatic transfers to a savings account, so you don’t have to think about whether or not you can afford to do it this week, this month, or this year. provides a Savings Assessment Tool which asks just a few questions to help you determine if you’re saving enough and provides helpful financial tips to keep you on track.

Build a Debt Reduction Plan

Credit card debt can be a real budget buster, especially when you’re only making minimum payments. First, determine how much extra money you can put toward attacking debt. Then make a list of what you owe, and how much interest you’re paying for each card. Stack your debt and attack the one with the highest interest rate first, adding the extra funds to your minimum payment. Once you’ve paid off that card, take on the next one. And if you can, look for opportunities to transfer your debt to a credit card that offers a lower interest rate.

Retirement Savings: Take the Match

The best way to save for retirement is by using tax-advantaged accounts such as company sponsored 401(k)s, 403(b)s and 457(b)s or Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). You can get an extra boost from
a 401(k) plan because your employer will usually match what you invest—typically from 2% to 8% of your salary—a great way to feather your nest egg.

Big Dreams Can Come True

You may have goals that you are working toward, such as buying a new home. Again, this is where your spending plan and budgeting savvy comes into play. According to the chart above, you should spend no
more than 35% of your monthly gross income on housing costs, which include mortgage payments, homeowners insurance, property taxes and condo or homeowner association fees, home repairs, and utilities.

Securities sold, advisory services offered through CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI), member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker/dealer and investment advisor. CBSI is under contract with SchoolsFirst FCU to make securities available to Members. Not NCUA/NCUSIF/FDIC insured, May Lose Value, No Financial Institution Guarantee. Not a deposit of any financial institution. CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc., is a registered broker/dealer in all fifty states of the United States of America.

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Extra Credit provides general information to help improve our Member’s financial lives. Every situation is different, so please contact us for guidance on your specific needs. The advice provided in Extra Credit is not intended to serve as a substitute for speaking to a loan representative, financial advisor, or BALANCE counselor who can help tailor a solution for you.

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