There are some habits (such as biting your nails) you should definitely break. Then there are others that should be at the top of your to-do list. Saving money is one of those habits you should never find fault with. As you incorporate better money habits into your life, you’ll find that even small contributions add up over time. It can help you reduce and keep debt at bay, and ultimately put you on a course for financial success. Here are a few good habits for saving money to help you start your new year off right.
Tuck away emotions
Take the emotion out of your money. If you tend to make purchases to reward yourself after good news or bad news, you’re spending based on your emotions. And the seesaw of ups and downs will be clearly reflected in your account.
Don’t impulse shop
Instead of buying on impulse, make a conscious decision to save. Put the impulse purchase down. If you evaluate your need for the item when you get home, you can always purchase it on your next shopping trip.
Putting away even a few dollars will make a difference. Devise an action plan to save for short- and long-term savings goals.
Shed the weight of debt
Many people find themselves weighed down by unmanageable debt, often feeling like the weight will never be lifted. But it can!
First, step back and find out exactly where you are. Gather all of your account statements and bills, and make a list of what you owe. Include details like the current interest rate and balance for each debt. Don't panic if your list is long. You now know where you are and this gives you the power to get where you want to go.
Next, prioritize your debts and develop a payment plan. It may be possible to consolidate some or all of your debt at a lower interest rate. A lower interest rate can help you pay off your debt more quickly and at less expense. Some experts suggest paying off debt with the highest interest rate first, while others suggest starting with debts that are the easiest to pay down. Do some research, talk to a financial professional and make a plan that best fits your needs.
Avoid unnecessary fees
Stop throwing away money. If you find yourself using an ATM that is not in network, consider making the switch to LGFCU’s ATM network, with more than 1,100 Cashpoints® ATMs across North Carolina and 250 branches close to where you live, work and play. Out-of-network ATM fees can cost anywhere from $2–$5 per transaction. That's more than $200 per year in extra fees if you use out-of-network ATMs just twice a week. Avoid that!
Track your account balances. If your LGFCU Checking Account is the primary source for your day-to-day purchases or you have bills that are drafted automatically, keep tabs on your daily balance and avoid overdraft fees.
Sign up for LGFCU Alerts to help you monitor you accounts. If a balance gets too low or a withdrawal is made, or even if you’re about to overdraw funds, LGFCU Alerts can send a notification — giving you time to take action and even avoid fees. Alerts are sent via secure email through Member Connect or via text message to your mobile phone. They help you stay informed and stay on top of your budget; so managing your money becomes smarter and easier than ever before.
Even more powerful is Compass, LGFCU’s online money management tool. Compass puts all of your accounts and transactions at your fingertips. You can create alerts, budgets, track your account transactions, and monitor your finances from your computer, tablet or smartphone
Buy only what you need
When at the grocery store, it may be tempting to stock up on an item just because it’s on sale. While you may be taking advantage of the reduced price, you might be overspending on the amount of items you buy.
The extra items you buy may expire or become outdated, wasting the extra money you spent, regardless of how much you saved on the individual item. You may also find you’re forcing yourself to use those last items a wastefully Instead of buying extra, purchase only what you need, putting the savings into an LGFCU Share Savings Account.
Avoid opening credit cards on impulse
Signing up for credit cards you don’t need is never a good practice, even if you end up getting a store discount or other rewards for using the card. You may spend more money at the store just to get the discount or rewards points. What’s more, you may not actually need the items you’re buying. You may benefit from the discount or rewards upfront, but you will end up increasing your credit card balance and generate unnecessary interest.
If you choose to get a credit card, shop around for a card with a low interest rate and no annual fee. Only use your credit card for emergency purchases or for purchases that you know you can pay for in full when your statement comes.
While you may be ready to kick some of your personal bad habits, don’t add saving money to that plan. There are a number of saving strategies that can help you keep more cash in your account instead of losing it to ATM fees, impulse buys and credit card debt. Use these tips as a baseline for jumpstarting a savings plan. If you need help, visit your local branch for more information.
Additional content courtesy of Brass Media.