We’re all anxious at one time or another about handling our finances, no matter our income. The best way to overcome that anxiety is to grow your insight and become the expert manager of your own finances. The new year is the perfect time to resolve, once and for all, to gain the peace of mind that comes with taking control of your money. New mindset = new you!
Old you: “I’m bad with money.”
New you: “My money is connected to my goals, so I’m happy to work hard and stay focused to achieve them.”
Old you: “I’m broke as a joke for life.”
New you: “I’m a couponing, points-maximizing, grocery-list-making super saver; my car is paid off, and I have a vacation planned for this spring.”
The following program will take you through six sessions that you can schedule however works best for you. Are you going to do a six-day blitz? Every Wednesday for six weeks? Decide on your schedule and put it into your calendar on your phone. Invite your spouse, family member, or friend. If you have teenagers at home, this would be a very eye-opening, practical activity for them, too. Each day of the program, you’ll do two simple things: you’ll set one goal, and do one thing.
Tips! If you bank at SAFE (and we hope you do!), we suggest managing your day-to-day finances with Perfect Cents Checking® and enrolling in the Perfect Cents Savings® program to help grow your money. Additionally, you can use our Money Manager Tool for several of the activities in this program. Our tool helps you track your spending by category, see trends, create a budget, set savings goals and watch your progress, and more.
Set a goal: Today, decide your reason why you’re going to stick to this program. Write down your “why” on a piece of paper and put it somewhere you’ll see it each day. Go big: Pay off that one credit card that has been hanging over your head.
Do one thing: Look at your bank statement. Make a mental note of five things you could cut next week. Put one of your video streaming services on hold? Cut out food delivery for a full week? It doesn’t matter if they’re big or small, pick any five expenses you can reasonably part with. You probably won’t even miss them.
Set a goal: Today, set a savings goal you feel you can reasonably reach by the end of this year. Count the remaining weeks and divide the goal by the number of weeks in the year to figure out how much you need to save each week. Make it realistic, and something you’ll celebrate, such as: “By X date, I will have saved enough to live on for 3 months if I were to lose my income.” Most Americans don’t have enough savings to deal with an emergency. But now look at you, the saver with an emergency fund!
Do one thing: Make (at least) one phone call to a utility or mobile phone or cable company to ask about reducing your bill. Hey, if you’re on a roll, call your auto insurance company, too. Most will help you find ways to get discounts. Add up your monthly savings and consider how much easier it will be to meet your goal now.
Set a goal: Go to your calendar and set a one-year goal. Write it in your calendar as well as on a piece of paper and post it where you’ll see it every day. Be specific: I will raise my income in the coming year to X amount per month. Whenever you see it, take one small step toward achieving that goal, such as researching salaries for your job in your region.
Do one thing: Make a grocery list. Determine how you’ll make your list. On your Notes app on your phone? On a special paper you set aside? On a chalkboard in the kitchen that you take a photo of before you head to the store? Research shows that those who shop with a list actually save money. Planning your trip ahead of time could add up to real cash in your pocket.
Set a goal: Today, set an intention for you and your family (or loved ones, or partner) to be more open and communicate more about your finances. You could say something like this: “Starting today, we are a family that talks about money and cultivates our finances together. For many, money talk is off limits. But in this house, setting goals, making good choices that support those goals, and helping one another achieve them is how we roll.” Kick off this new culture of sharing by discussing the types of goals and changes you’re working on now.
Do one thing: Open a savings account and put a minimum of $20 in it. Already have a savings account? Set up an automatic transfer into savings that corresponds to payday. Already automatically transferring money into your savings account each month? Increase that amount a bit. The more you can save automatically, the less you’ll need to take out a loan when you’re in a pinch.
Set a goal: Pay down your debt. Pull out your loan statements for your home, car, credit cards, and any other loans you may have. Research refinancing some of the loans or consolidating through a personal loan.
Do one thing: Look at your loans. Dig up the statements for your car loan, home loan, and any personal loans. How can you re-work one (or all) to better serve your goals? Can you reduce the term to pay them off sooner? If you do, you could save a bundle. Or if reducing your monthly expenses is more important, look at the interest rates to see whether you can bring those down. Make at least one phone call today to one of your lenders to explore your options
Set a goal: For the next week, don’t pay full price for anything. Anything at all? Yes! Look for promo codes online. Clip coupons, use the in-store app, or even ask at checkout if that store is running any specials right now. You may need to defer some purchases if you can’t find a deal (but is that such a bad thing?). Enlist your kids to help search for deals — they’ll learn quickly that saving money is sometimes just a matter of doing some research.
Do one thing: Set a weekly text alert that tells you your main checking account balance. This will help you track your spending and remind you to check over your purchases and make sure they were all authorized purchases made by you (and/or others on the account). If you bank at SAFE, you can set up text alerts in Online Banking or in the Mobile App under Additional Services, where you’ll see the Alerts & Notifications link.
You did it!
Time to congratulate yourself and celebrate a little. You did it (or, hey, at least you read the entire article)! You are ready to integrate these into your life. Even if you fell off the program part way through, that’s OK too — you can pick back up anytime. Don’t let setbacks discourage you. You’re creating some great money habits: you’ve set reminders, declared your goals, and set a clear path to realizing them. Most importantly, you’ve discovered how empowering it is to be the hands-on manager of your own finances. I’m proud of you! Now that you’ve made managing your money more seamless, you’ll have more time for your other goals.
And, I’d love to hear your story of taking charge of your own finances and changing your money mindset. Tag SAFE Credit Union (@safecu) when you post about your journey on social media.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to conquer debt and save for your next big goal, you can learn more with our no-cost live and recorded financial education webinars open to everyone.
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