Whether or not your family made New Year’s resolutions in January, taking control of your finances early in the year will set you up for success in the months ahead. Consider this checklist to help get you on track.
Check Your Credit Report
Your credit report gives lenders a view of your financial responsibility, which impacts interest rates on loans and large purchases. Once per year, you are entitled to a free credit report from each of the major credit reporting agencies (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax), which can be requested at AnnualCreditReport.com. Watch for unauthorized accounts, loans, or purchases, which will damage your credit and signal that your identity may have been stolen. If you find inaccuracies in your report, you can dispute those errors by contacting the credit bureau where you found the inaccurate report.
Review Your Budget
If you’re new to budgeting, begin by tracking each dollar you spend. It won’t take long to get a clear picture of where your money is going. Set limits on the little luxuries that can start to add up. There are tools that will do the tracking for you. You could use a personal financial manager (PFM) that links right to your checking account, tracking each purchase. It will categorize your spending and tell you if you are on track or not. Alerts can be created to notify you when the spending target has been exceeded.
To stay motivated and stick to your budget, it is helpful to focus on what you’re working toward. Is it paying off debt or saving for a family vacation or a new home? Make that dream visible. Hang pictures on the refrigerator or on a bulletin board at work. Go test drive your dream car or walk through a new home. $imleTRAX allows you to set up saving goals toward your dream. You can monitor your progress and feel great knowing exactly how long it will take to attain your goals.
That time spent every month writing checks for electricity, cell phones, and credit cards can add up. Automating bill payments can save you time and remove any worry of missing a payment. While many companies allow you to set these up with them, it’s even more convenient if they can all be kept together. A helpful tool is 1st National Bank’s online bill pay, where payments for electricity, cell phones, credit cards, and even people, can be managed within a single dashboard.
When you monitor your progress at the end of each month, take time to celebrate your successes. Go sledding with the family or make a special meal for dinner. Rewards don’t have to be expensive, but they should motivate you to keep up your progress.
For assistance with any of your financial needs, visit a Personal Banker at your local 1stNational Bank Financial Center.