Financial Planning Month is here!
October is Financial Planning Month and a great time to think about how to improve your finances. Whether you’re just starting out or looking for more advanced financial lessons, it’s never too early or too late to build healthier financial habits.
What do you want your life to look like in 5, 10, or even 20+ years? Knowing this will help you develop your “why,” which keeps you motivated and committed to reaching your short-, mid-, and long-term goals. Whether it’s buying a house, going on that dream vacation, getting out of debt before retirement, or other goals, knowing your “why” is crucial to working toward your goals.
Reaching your goals takes time and dedication, but regularly putting money aside—even in small amounts—is the best way to watch your money grow. You could also automate your savings to a set dollar amount, such as $20 a week. Over time, that $20 will add up to $1,060 in a year!
A great tool to consider is Cents to Savings. It’s an easy way to make everyday purchases part of your savings plan. Each time you make a purchase with your Arkansas Federal debit card, your transaction is rounded up to the nearest dollar, and the difference is automatically put into your Arkansas Federal share savings account.
Establish/Raise Your Credit Score
A solid credit history, consistent with on-time payments, and a low debt-to-credit ratio are the keys to a higher credit score. And you’ll need a decent one if you ever want to get a loan to buy a home, rent a house or apartment, get a decent credit card, or even apply for certain jobs. In short, your credit score helps lenders, landlords, and even employers determine if you’re reliable.
A higher credit score can also open the door to the lowest available interest rate when you borrow. To track your credit score and learn ways to improve it, we encourage you to enroll in Credit IQ, a free tool that allows you to get your daily credit score, monthly credit report, credit monitoring, and more with no impact to your credit score.
Reduce Expenses & Have a Budget
If you have high-interest debt, such as credit cards, the payments and emotional weight can be overwhelming. Whether you have one bill or several, paying off your high-interest debt with a personal loan may reduce the burden and save you money. You may also hear it called a debt consolidation loan, as it involves taking out one new loan to pay off high-interest debts. Typically, the new loan will have a lower interest rate than your original debt, so you save money on interest charges. This strategy can also help you get out of debt faster. You’ll have just one simple monthly payment for a set amount of time, usually at a lower rate.
Another way to reduce your expenses, is to have a clear big-picture overview of your budget for the month, you can confidently avoid overspending and build up your savings over time without painstakingly recording every transaction. So, download our simple and free budgeting sheet to help you get started.
Plan for the Future
If you haven’t already, open a retirement account. With a variety of retirement savings accounts, such as 401(k) plans, Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), mutual funds, and more, you have plenty of options to help set you up for success. And the earlier you start, the better off you’ll be. These types of accounts typically accrue compound interest, meaning the interest you earn on a balance also earns interest. So, that compound interest accelerates the growth of your savings over time. The sooner you start, the more you could earn.
Let us help
These steps are simple, but these aren’t the only way to get on track. So, let us help you get started. As a member of Arkansas Federal, we’ll walk alongside you and help you evaluate your unique financial situation. Whether you want to map out a long-term strategy or just find a way to consolidate debt, our experienced team can help get your finances into the best shape possible. Drop by your local branch or call us at 800.456.3000 today for your complimentary financial checkup and tips!