Start the New Year With Financial Wellness Tips
If you don’t approach your money with a plan, you may have a plan for failure. January is Financial Wellness Month. It’s time to take a look at your financial picture and make adjustments to optimize it. Here are five tips to get you started:
- Your Budget
Take a realistic look at your budget. Do you earn more than you spend? If so, are you putting a percentage of your income into savings? Or are you living paycheck to paycheck? BancorpSouth Online and Mobile Banking offer budgeting tools to help you track your spending and set goals. Make sure your spending habits are balanced with your income. If they are out of balance, it’s likely time to make some adjustments.
- Your Retirement Contributions
If you are under retirement age and still in the workforce, you can contribute to your retirement plan. If you don’t have a retirement plan, it’s past time to get one! With an IRA, you can help make your money work for you with compound interest. If you work for a company that offers a 401k with a company match, make sure you don’t leave money on the table. Contribute enough to get the full amount of the company match. There’s an old saying that you can’t outwork money. Make sure your money is working as hard as you are.
- Your Debt
Take a look at how much debt you have – credit cards, mortgage, auto loans, personal loans, etc. Set a debt payoff goal. See if you can re-work your budget to pay down debt faster, so you spend less on interest payments. Perhaps you could consider refinancing your auto loan or mortgage and prioritize paying off your highest-interest credit cards first. The more debt you pay off, the more money you can put toward your other goals.
- Your Credit Score
Each year you can get your free credit report by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com. Check it for accuracy and if you find an error, report and dispute it with one of the three national credit bureaus. See what ways your credit report suggests for improving your score. The higher your score, the better opportunity you have to save money and qualify for lower interest rates.
- Emergency Fund
Do you have $500-$1000 in savings to cover an emergency expense like a broken refrigerator or auto repair if one happened right now? If not, you’re not alone. A GoBankingRates survey found 69% of Americans do not have such a cash cushion. You can’t predict the unexpected, but if you don’t have an emergency fund for it, your problems could compound faster than the interest on money you might have to borrow to cover the expense. Build a money cushion into your monthly budget. Be prepared so the next emergency doesn’t send you scrambling.
The benefits of being financially well don’t just help you monetarily. Financial wellness could be better for your overall physical and mental wellness. It could lead to less stress and more time to spend on your passions and with your family.
Let us help you with your savings and financial cushion. Open a BancorpSouth savings account today, and start building up financial resilience! Learn more about our savings options and visit a branch to get started!