CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (Dec. 19, 2018) — The old adage of pennies make dollars is true. Over time, simple, everyday savings add up. So, whether you made a commitment to pay down debt, create an emergency fund, boost your retirement savings or recover from holiday spending, here are a few tips to help you make your financial resolutions habits.
Tip #1 — Focus on the Short-Term
If you spent a little more than you should have during the holidays, just focus on getting out of debt first before looking to save. Avoid additional fees and interest by paying bills on time and paying the full balance.
Tip #2 — Set Clear Goals
Before you save the first dime, make sure that you have created specific, attainable goals. When developing your goals use the SMART goal-setting strategy to ensure financial objectives are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. For example, if you know you need to save money for a family vacation, your goal could be to save $3,000 for an early July family vacation by saving $250 from every bi-monthly paycheck.
Tip #3 — Plan for the Long-Term
When creating a savings plan, it is essential that you set money aside before it goes into your checking account. Allocate a percentage of your income for savings every pay period and have it automatically deposited from your paycheck into a separate savings account. This structure removes the temptation of using the funds in the short-term and helps ensure that you have a nest egg set aside for any emergencies or unexpected events.
Tip #4 — Conduct a Bill Audit
Collect your printed bills and print the ones that you receive online — Internet, cable, wireless, satellite radio and others. Then carefully read the itemized list of services and pay special attention for add-ons that you didn’t realize you were being charged for or services you no longer need. Once your audit is complete, create automatic payments to ensure bills are paid on schedule.
Tip #5 — Know Your Numbers
Just like it is important to know your body weight, it is important to know your credit report and credit score. Federal law requires each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion to give you a free credit report every 12 months if you ask for it. They also make it easy to accomplish many credit-related tasks right from your computer. Visit annualcreditreport.com for more information.
Tip #6 — Inspect Your Home
Small air leaks and old appliances can add to your utility expenses. Visit energyright.com to complete a complimentary home audit to see how you can make changes to save energy and money. If you have a lot of energy-saving renovations that need to be made, visit your local TVFCU Branch to learn how a Home Equity Line of Credit could help you with updates.
Tip #7 — Think About Retirement Now
Regardless of your age, make sure you are saving for retirement now. One of the best ways to save is to take advantage of your employer’s 401(k) retirement savings program. Call a financial consultant at Tennessee Valley Investment Advisors, a division of TVFCU, to learn more about how much you should be saving and how you can better grow your retirement nest egg.
Tip #8 — Refinance Loans
Interest rates have probably changed since you last financed your home or car. Take advantage of lower interest rates and use the difference to help build your savings.
Tip #9 — Make the Swap
Look for ways to cut everyday expenses. For example, forgo going out to lunch at work every day and bring your lunch from home, and replace visiting the coffee shop for breakfast with making coffee and breakfast at home. Use your debit card, instead of cash, for everyday purchases to better track your spending. These small steps can really begin to add up, especially over the course of a year.
Tip #10 — Spend Less Than You Earn
As the year progresses, remember it is all about spending less than you earn. Stick to your financial goals and you will help to make your financial resolutions habits. And just like your physical health, it takes willpower to have better financial health.
# # #
About Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union
Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union (TVFCU), a not-for-profit financial cooperative, was established in 1936 when 57 Chattanooga TVA employees pooled $500 to create the member-owned credit union. Today, TVFCU serves more than 140,600 members who live, work, worship, volunteer or attend school throughout the 13-county service community. With more than $1.4 billion in assets and 17 branches throughout the area, TVFCU is the largest credit union in the region. For more information about TVFCU, please visit tvfcu.com.