A brand-new year is the perfect time to reassess your finances and begin with a clean slate. CTFCU has prepared the following list of considerations to help you take control of your finances in 2020 and beyond.
Create a budget
It’s a great idea to begin the new year with a fresh budget. Start with your expected income along with any fixed expenses. This would include rent or mortgage costs, homeowner’s association fees, insurance, utilities, and transportation costs. After establishing a budget, remaining funds can be designated for discretionary
expenditures. Also, remember to allocate funds for your savings goals and an emergency fund.
This is also a perfect time to revisit last year’s budget. Have your income or expenses changed over the last 12 months? Starting
with solid projections leads to more accurate results, which ultimately helps you achieve your monetary goals. Consider using a spreadsheet or personal financial tracking app to monitor your cash inflows and outflows.
Our financial education page has lots of budgeting resources and calculators to assist you.
Plan ahead to meet your goals
Having a realistic plan and clearly defined strategies, is the best way to set up your finances for success. When thinking about your future, there are short-term goals (like purchasing a new car or home) and long-term goals (like saving for retirement or sending a child to college). No matter the time-frame, each desired outcome will require a different approach.
Experts suggest working backwards to determine the amount needed to save for a specific objective. For instance, if your plan is to take an expensive vacation two years from now, determine the total cost, establish a reasonable time-frame, and calculate the amount to save each month to meet this number.
We offer many options, to help you save for trips, holiday gifts, healthcare, retirement, and much more.
Secure your financial future by identifying the difference between needs and wants. Needs are necessary for survival, including items like food and shelter. Wants represent items that are desired, but not necessary, such as a luxury car or expensive vacation.
For many, the line between wants and needs is often blurred. By clearly differentiating between the two, you can avoid confusion and stick to your monetary plan.
Maximize retirement contributions
Saving money for retirement can help ensure a comfortable lifestyle later in life, after your working years have concluded. First, investigate whether your employer offers a 401(k) plan with a company match. Consider contributing the maximum percentage that is matched by your employer. If you can’t afford the maximum, can your budget withstand at least 1-2% of your salary going towards the plan? Then each year, increase your contribution after receiving any annual pay raises. This strategy could help you build up savings faster and take advantage of any employer matching funds. Gradually increasing the amount contributed, won’t seem like such a hit to your bottom line and should help you stick to your targets.
Review your health savings account (HSA)
If there are still funds remaining in your Health Savings Account (HSA), now is the time to use it. These pre-tax dollars often have to be spent before the end of the year. Do you need a new pair of eyeglasses? Have you scheduled your teeth cleaning? This might be a good time to utilize those designated funds before they expire.
Our Health Savings Account (HSA) with debit card access, could be a perfect complement to your current plan.
2020 is just the beginning!
Starting the year with smarter financial habits can be beneficial in the long run. We’ve partnered with Banzai! to offer an interactive suite of tools to help our members better understand and manage their finances. Finally, don’t forget to review your loan and deposits accounts to be sure you’re getting the best interest rates available. Saving even a small interest percentage on your debts or earning more on your deposits, can make a big difference to your overall financial well-being. Compare our rates with your current credit union or bank here.
Remember, our team is just a call, click, or visit away to answer any questions on helping you create your best financial life.