Have you ever been more ready to embrace a new year? ‘Bye 2020! You left many of us with thicker waists and thinner wallets but we’re inspired for a fresh start. If you resolve to gain control of your personal finances in 2021, we’re here to help you get fiscally fit.
As is true with any other fitness routine, there’s no magic secret to whipping your finances into shape. But there are sound habits you can adopt to steadily shift in the right direction.
1. Start with an assessment
Before you bite off a huge financial goal, take a look at your starting point. That’s as simple as reacquainting yourself with your checking and savings accounts. Look beyond the balances. What are you getting from your accounts?
Find the details of your checking account:
- Do you have free checking?
- What about a free debit card?
- Do you pay monthly maintenance fees?
- What are your minimum or maximum balance requirements?
- Do you earn interest, cashback or ATM fee refunds?
- Do you take advantage of mobile banking?
Compare your answers to these Cinfed checking accounts to see if it’s time to make a change.
Now check out your savings account:
- What are the fees?
- What are your minimum and maximum balance requirements?
- Do you earn interest; if so, what’s the rate?
- Do you have access to special savings accounts, like for holidays and travel?
Compare your answers to these Cinfed savings accounts to see if you might get more from switching savings accounts.
2. Write down your financial goals — and how you’ll reach them
It’s one thing to think about saving for emergencies, college, a new car or retirement. It’s another thing to write down your goals and make a plan to reach them.
Write down all the goals that come to mind. Now prioritize them. Many people need to start by building emergency savings. If you’ve checked that off your list, move to the next goal. You can visit the Cinfed Financial Education Center to learn about car loans, buying a home, saving for college, retirement — or how to manage debt. These quick online courses can help you firm up your strategies for reaching your goals.
Remember to create SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-limited).
3. Watch your efforts add up
As you plan how to reach your financial goals, you’ll want to look at your monthly budget to see where you can make changes. This handy budget calculator gives you perspective on where you might overspend and where you might have gaps.
It’s okay to chip away at your goals a little at a time. Start small and grow from there. Maybe today you cut out cable or coffee. Maybe tomorrow you put a percentage of your paycheck directly into savings. However small you start, just get started. Once you see a little success it will inspire you to keep going. It’s fun to watch small steps add up to big leaps toward your goals.
4. Put financial tools to work for you
Whether you’re just getting started with finances, are making adjustments or are already financially savvy, there’s a calculator that’s just right for your personal fiscal fitness toolbox. Calculators help you see things in the here-and-now or forecast how your finances might shift if you refinance a student loan or mortgage.
5. Call or visit your coach
With Cinfed, you have a whole financial team on your side. You can call or make an appointment with a financial coach at your local Cinfed branch. Either way, we’re here to help you take control of your finances. Here’s what to expect if you visit us in person.