To help, here are tips for rearranging your financial house.
Review your budget. A lot can change in a year. If you have been promoted, had a child, or become a new homeowner or renter, be sure to update your budget. Determine what expenses demand the most money and identify areas where you can realistically cut back. Develop a strategy for spending and saving – and stick to it.
Evaluate and pay down debt. Take a look at how much you owe and what you are paying in interest. Begin paying off existing debt, whether that is by chipping away at loans with the highest interest rates or eliminating smaller debt first.
Set up automatic payments. By paying recurring bills automatically on the same day each month, you never have to worry about a missed payment impacting your credit score. Plan out your automatic payments to ensure your checking account has adequate funds when the payments are scheduled to be withdrawn.
Save for emergencies. About 40 percent of Americans are positioned to cover a $400 emergency expense, according to the American Bankers Association. You can prepare by opening or adding to a savings account that serves as an “emergency or rainy-day fund.” Ideally, the account should hold about three to six months of living expenses, in case of sudden financial hardships, like losing your job or having to replace your car.
Go digital. Using American Federal Online Banking with Bill Pay will help keep your house — physical and financial — more organized, and will help protect you from fraud. Use American Federal’s Mobile App to check your balance, pay your bills, transfer funds, deposit a check and send money to friends from wherever you are.
Check your credit report. Every year, you are guaranteed one free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus. Take advantage of these free reports and check them for any possible errors. Mistakes can lower your score and prevent you from getting a loan, or cause you to pay a higher than necessary interest rate.
Max your retirement plan contributions. Be sure you are maxing out contributions to your retirement plan and taking advantage of an employer’s 401k match.
Set goals. Revisit your top financial goals for the year with your American Federal Banker. Be specific. Place your focus on these goals.
Spring is a time of renewal, which means it’s time to tidy up your spending habits. Taking time to balance your budget today will set you up for sunny financial days the rest of the year.