Financial Wellness Month
It’s Financial Wellness Month! Set yourself up for #FinancialSuccess with these tips from Star of Texas Credit Union
Set Financial Goals
One key to obtaining financial success is to setup goals. Thinking and discussing money can be stressful. If you’re overwhelmed by mounting debt, planning for retirement, or simply wanting to change your lifestyle start by making a list that fits what you want to achieve and why. It will help you to assess where you are financially and provide you the roadmap with how to reach your goals.
1. Start with Finding Your Inspiration
What do you want to achieve and how do you want to achieve it? Setting realistic goals will help increase your chances of success. Make a list of both short and long term goals that will you would like to achieve. Write everything down and be specific about your wants and needs.
2. Know your Situation
Assess your income, debts, and expenses to help prioritize your goals.
3. Be SMART
Using the the SMART acronym will help you to achieve your goals. Smart, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. What does that all mean? Let’s look an example in action.
Specific: I want to save $3,000 for vacation in one year.
Measurable: I need to save $250 per month or $8.22 per day
Achievable: My budget includes $200 of disposable income, so I need to free up or earn an additional $50 of income in order to achieve my goal
Relevant: As long as I can earn or save the extra $50/month on to of my $200 in disposable income, I can achieve my goal
Timely: I want to save $3,000 in one year
By taking the SMART approach when setting your financial goals, you can visually see if they are attainable and reachable in a timely manner.
Create a Budget
Now that you’ve written down your financial goals, it’s time to create a budget! Many financial experts suggest a 50/30/20 budgeting approach. This is where you put 50% of your income toward needs, 30% toward wants, and 20% toward savings and paying down debt.
As you begin to create your budget, utilize the Star of Texas Credit Union Mobile App and Online Banking services to help you review and plan. If you haven’t already, make sure that you’re using Bill Pay to make your payments. This will ensure your bills are paid on-time which plays a critical role in your credit score.
Make sure that you’re creating a budget that will help you meet your financial wellness goals. Be realistic!
If you do no already have a savings account, we have interest bearing options for every need. Sign up for direct deposit and automatically have the amount you’d like to save put directly into your savings account each month. Having a separate account setup just for saving will keep you from being tempted to spend those additional funds.
Star of Texas Credit Union is insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), an agency of the federal government, so all accounts are insured up to $250,000.
Check Your Credit Score
Having a good credit score is key in maintaining financial wellness. Repairing credit takes time, but there are plenty of things that you can do to improve your score. What is a good credit score? Preferably 700 or higher. If you do not know your score, no problem! Every 12 months you are able to check your score for free at https://www.annualcreditreport.com Once you know your score, then you can begin finding ways to increase it.
Keys to improve your credit score
1. Pay Bills On Time
Setting up your payments using BillPay is an excellent way to ensure you never miss a credit card payment! Paying your bills on time is the most crucial part of improving your credit score.
2. Check Credit Report for Errors
Make sure to dispute a debit with you creditors, bill collector, or reporting agency if they are in error.
3. Make a Payment Arrangement
If your bills are overdue, try and bargain with the creditor to see if they’ll accept partial payments. Have them mark “paid as agreed” on your account.
4. Request a Higher Credit Limit
Staying under 30% of your spending limit is recommend for credit card users. Ask the card issuer to do a soft pull on your credit report to make this happen. Gaining a higher credit card limit is an easier way to improve your credit card score.
5. Don’t Close Old Accounts
If you’re no longer using a credit card, do no close the old account. It will have a negative impact on your utilization rate and also the average age of your accounts. Both of these are major factors in determining your credit. Keeping the accounts open but paying on them is a great way to continually improve your credit.
6. Credit Card Applications
Don’t apply for a credit card unless you really need one. It’s always tempting when a store offers you the option to save “X” amount of money on the spot by opening a new card, but remember, this can negatively impact your credit score. You may find yourself needing to open a credit card in order to build additional credit. If that is the case, Star of Texas Credit Union offers Credit Cards with current interest rates as low as 9.90% APR* with no annual fees, no cash advance fees, no balance transfer fees, and no late payment interest rate hikes. Plus you’ll have a fixed interest rate for the life of the card. Credit cards are a great way to build credit if you’re responsible with your usage and paying them in a timely manner.
Use your financial goals, budget, and credit report to create a strategy in 2022 to help you build your credit and pay down existing debt!
Another way to reach your goals and achieve financial wellness is to save money. In a year where the cost of goods and services are going up and we are feeling the impact of covid 19 on the economy, saving money is crucial. There are plenty of ways to save each money each month, so let’s take a look at a few common options.
1. Review Your Expenses
As you have reviewed your finances to establish a budget for 2022, you may have noticed areas where you have been spending money that you can save.
-Subscriptions: Look over your accounts and turn off any subscriptions that you are not using. Revolving subscriptions can slowly eat away at money that you could be saving each year.
-Dining Out/In: One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight or eat healthier. So this money saving option can help you reach multiple goals. The cost of food has slowly risen since coronavirus has taken the world by storm. You may have noticed that fast food meal you used to order has increased in price by a few cents to a few dollars. The delivery industry boomed while the nation was on lockdown. Many of us enjoy the conveniences of staying at home and safe while still satisfying our favorite food cravings. However food delivery can quickly eat away at your monthly budget! Did you know that they increase the price of your meal on the delivery app, then charge a service fee, delivery fee, and on top you’ll have the drivers tip. If you “subscribe” to a specific delivery service then they’ll wave the cost of the service and delivery fee, however if you do the math, you’ll find you’re still spending a significant amount more than you would to pickup the food for yourself.
If you’re someone that dines in or out frequently then look at this as an opportunity to save in 2022!
-Coffee/Drinks: Skip that expensive coffee or beverage and put that money toward your savings each week. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but every little bit adds up!
As you review your expenses, look over your loan payments and write down your interest rates for each. In 2021 we saw interest rates drop significantly around the country. If you’re still paying a high interest rate on your mortgage, auto, or consumer loan, consider refinancing as a way to save money each month! Rates may begin to climb as 2022 progresses, so don’t miss the opportunity to refinance and save while rates are still low!
Take advantage of Star of Texas Credit Unions refinancing special and save up to .25% on your auto or residential loan with rates as low as 3% APR*.
3. Utility Savings
Lowering the thermostat on your water heater by 10 degrees Fahrenheit can save you between 3 to 5% on energy savings cost. Turning off lights or changing to eco-friendly light bulbs is another great way to save. If you have the means to do so, solar powered energy options have a high initial expense to setup, but will save you a great deal of money overtime.
4. Interest Bearing Account
Put your hard earned money to work for you in a Savings, CD, Money Market, Christmas Club, Youth, or Traditional IRA savings account. Choose the option that is right savings account for you and open it online today. Get approved within minutes!*
Setup Direct Deposit to ensure you save each month! Having a little money from every paycheck directly deposited into your savings account is a great way to make sure that don’t spend it and earn dividends on your return!
In 2022 there are certainly no shortage of jobs. If you’re looking to make additional money, there are plenty of options available.
-Drive: If you own a car then an option to earn additional income in the evenings or weekends would be to drive for Uber, Lyft, Door Dash, GrubHub, or local options. Making money from tips and trips is a great way to earn extra funds that you can put toward you Financial Goals!
-Work from Home: Put your spare time to good use and utilize your talents to work from home! Teaching, graphic design, baking, writing, singing, telemarketing, social media strategist, brand influencer, website designer, editing, the list goes on and on of the countless jobs and gigs to be had across the internet. Part time, full time, or a job at a time, whatever you choose, there are plenty of ways to earn additional income for your financial future.
-Sell Your Stuff: Many of us have old electronic devices just laying around the house, but did you know that they may have value? You can easily sell your old phone, tablet, or computer on eBay, Facebook, or Craigslist and earn extra cash! Just make sure to wipe your device before passing it on to the buyer.
Having a garage sale is another great way to earn a little extra money while getting rid of your junk in the process! Facebook Marketplace is an excellent source for selling unwanted items quickly without the additional hassle of setting up a physical sale.
Now that you have setup your Financial Goals, Created a Budget, Checked Your Credit Score and learned ways to Save Money and Earn Money, make sure to take the time and celebrate each of these achievements. In each step of the journey reward yourself as you press on toward a stronger financial future.
Remember that Star of Texas Credit Union is here for you! If you have questions about financial wellness, be sure to give us a call at 1-800-258-3228!