Your Finances: Do This, Not That

Money missteps happen to all of us, especially during a tough economy. All too often, emotions can affect our financial decisions. If you’re doing any of these things now, consider these moves instead to work toward lasting financial well-being.

  1. Relying on credit to get by.

 Do this instead:

Create a new budget. Review your receipts, credit card statements and bank account transactions to pinpoint where your money goes each payday. Use SchoolsFirst’s Household Cash Flow Calculator to help you quickly determine if you’re spending more than you earn and find ways to cut back. If your debt is getting unmanageable, our partners at GreenPath Financial Wellness1 offer free financial coaching and can help you develop an action plan to pay down debt once and for all.

  1. Not Saving for Emergencies

Not having a savings cushion to pay for unexpected expenses can put you in a financial bind.

Do this instead:

Make saving a part of your budget. Open a dedicated savings account and grow the balance until it reaches three months’ worth of living expenses. Set up automatic transfers to a dedicated savings account not connected to your checking.

  1. Not reviewing your insurance coverage. With each passing year, the number of your responsibilities is likely to increase. Whether it’s a growing family or the accumulation of higher-value assets, having sufficient insurance could shield you from financial losses.

Do this instead: If you haven’t already, get an insurance review to see if you have the right amount of coverage to meet your changing needs. For instance, you might consider bundling your home and auto insurance, and take advantage of discounts you may be eligible for. If you have a family, it’s important to have adequate life insurance to protect them if something happens to you.

  1. Ignoring scam red flags. It only takes a few minutes for a financial scam to drain your bank account. Fraudsters are using sophisticated techniques to separate consumers from their money.

Do this instead:

Knowing the ins and outs of the latest fraud schemes is one of the best ways to stay safe. Read common signs of a scam1 to learn ways to keep your personal information protected. Visit the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website or sign up for FTC Consumer Alerts1 to stay up to date.

  1. Delaying retirement savings. Each year you put off  saving for the future, you miss out on the benefits of growing your retirement account. Savers who make retirement contributions early often do so with less effort.

Do this instead:

Starting early and contributing regularly to a retirement plan allows you to take to maximize the benefits of compounding interest. If you haven’t done so, enroll in your workplace retirement plan, which may match your contributions — typical from 2% to 8%. Make sure you’re contributing at least the maximum of the match. If you don’t have access to an employer-sponsored plan, you can still save money in a tax-advantaged account, such as a Traditional IRA or Roth IRA.

  1. Not keeping up with your credit score. Your three-digit credit score is powerful. Based on data in your credit history reports, a lower score means you won’t get the best interest rates on loans and credit cards.

Do this instead:

If you’re not tracking changes to your credit health, then application denials, costly service deposits and even missed employment opportunities may be part of your future. Unexpected changes to your credit report could indicate identity theft or the addition of inaccurate data. Request free copies of your reports by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com1

  1. Not having a will or trust.

When you have a family, taking care of them is paramount. Not having an estate plan in place puts them at financial risk if you pass away.

Do this instead:

If your finances are straightforward, draft a simple will to ensure your assets are distributed the way you wish. You can also list beneficiaries on your financial accounts by adding a payable on death designation.  As your circumstances change, you’ll most likely want to create a more comprehensive plan for your property and assets. You can draft a basic will on your own or use an online will-maker for little or no cost. However, an estate plan usually requires more guidance from an estate planning lawyer. To learn more about estate planning, you can attend a webinar, Living Trusts & Estate Planning: Presented by Affinity Trusts.

 Money mistakes don’t need to define you. In fact, you can learn from them. If you’ve made unwise financial decisions, get the help you need with services like those offered by counselors at GreenPath™ Financial Wellness a SchoolsFirst partner. They can help you heal from past mistakes with free financial counseling.


  1. When you click on external links, you are linking to an alternate website not operated by SchoolsFirst FCU, and SchoolsFirst FCU is not responsible for the content of the alternate website. The fact that there is a link from SchoolsFirst FCU’s email 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 advisor who can help tailor a solution for you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *