Last year challenged us to protect our health, job and financial well-being. Although things are looking up, life will always have bumps in the road. Here are some tips to get back to basics and improve your financial picture.
Evaluate Your Budget
If you haven’t looked at your budget in a while, it may be time to review and adjust. Figure out where your money goes, and places you can save.
Looking for a budgeting strategy? There are many ways to build one. For instance, this online budget worksheet from NerdWallet1 uses the 50/30/20 budgeting method, suggesting that 50% of your income goes toward your needs, 30% toward your wants and 20% toward savings and debt repayment.
Revisit Your Spending and Save any Extra Funds
See if there are ways to reduce your phone and cable bills by eliminating services you don’t use. You can take similar actions with essential spending, such as insurance and utilities. Visit your utility company’s website for suggestions on how to reduce your energy bill. Any way you can free up spending and put it toward an emergency fund will keep you in good stead.
Refinance Your Loans
If you have a steady source of income and a good credit score, it may be a good time to take advantage of record-low interest rates with a loan refinance — including your mortgage and auto loans.
Consider a Balance Transfer
Consider getting rid of your high-rate cards by utilizing balance transfers to a card with a lower interest rate. What to look for when considering a balance transfer offer:
Pay attention to these two things when transferring your balance:
- Promotional Period – If you get a 0% annual percentage rate (APR) offer or a low introductory rate, you need to know exactly how long that promotional rate will last. Some terms are as short as six months; others can be as long as 18 months. Once the promotional period is over, your interest rate may be higher than what you are currently paying.
- Fees – Before you say yes to a balance transfer offer, even one with a 0% APR, check for fees. Balance transfer fees usually run between 2% and 5% of the amount transferred. There may also be annual fees, inactivity fees, cash advance fees and more associated with your new card.
Get an Insurance Review
Wonder if you have the right coverage? A licensed agent can help you explore your options, identify any gaps and find discounts you might not have thought of. For instance, it’s important to make sure you have adequate liability and uninsured/underinsured coverage in case you have an accident involving an uninsured or underinsured driver.
Natural disasters are also something to be prepared for if you live in an area prone to wildfires, hurricanes or floods. While you can’t prevent these occurrences, you can help reduce your fears and the potential damage by preparing for them. Your agent will help you explore your options.
Don’t let Emotions Rule your Investments
Watching the stock market’s volatility can make you nervous about your assets, especially if you’re nearing retirement age. Speak with a financial advisor2 who can examine your situation and make asset allocation recommendations to weather the storms.
Have Questions? Let Us Help
If you need advice, our financial advisors provide complimentary consultations to SchoolsFirst FCU Members, and can help find creative financial strategies tailored to your specific needs. Advisors can discuss your investment needs on the phone, or you can meet with them at the branch closest to you. It’s easy to schedule an appointment.
Learn more about our financial advisors.1
Natural Disaster Resources
FEMA Disasters & Assistance2 (General)
FEMA Disasters & Assistance2 (California Wildfires)
CA Insurance License 0I19344.
- Financial professionals are registered representatives of CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. Representatives are registered, securities sold, advisory services offered through CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI), member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker/dealer and investment advisor, which is not an affiliate of the credit union. CBSI is under contract with the Credit Union to make securities available to Members. Not NCUA/NCUSIF/FDIC insured, may lose value, no financial institution guarantee, and not an obligation of the Credit Union. 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.
- When you click on external links, you are linking to alternate websites not operated by SchoolsFirst FCU, and SchoolsFirst FCU is not responsible for the content of the alternate websites. The fact that there is a link from SchoolsFirst FCU’s website to an alternate website does not constitute endorsement of any product, service, or organization. SchoolsFirst FCU does not represent either you or the website operator if you enter into a transaction. Privacy and security policies may differ from those practiced by SchoolsFirst FCU, and you should review the alternate website’s policies. 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 GreenPath Financial Wellness counselor who can help tailor a solution for you.
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