Strategies for Becoming Financially Fit

By Guest Blogger Janine Brady, Business Development Officer, Metro Credit Union

Metro is proud to be the credit union for Massachusetts State Employees.  Their goal is to provide exceptional service and expert guidance to help you achieve your financial goals!  Janine Brady, Metro’s Business Development Officer, offers some tips to help start you along the journey toward becoming financially fit. 

Be Practical
Everyone’s heard this before, but don’t live beyond your means. The best way to stay fiscally fit is to be responsible. Budgeting, debt repayment, and saving are good habits to establish.

Budget
Budgeting is like making a doctor’s appointment a year in advance. Think proactively. Make it a point to balance your expenses and income.  There are plenty of financial resources available to you. Get a budget sheet and start plugging away. Budget sheets focus on what money is coming in and what money is going out. Start with the bare necessities (housing/utilities, transportation, food, insurance, and medical expenses) and then move on to non-essential spending (dining out, entertainment, personal shopping, vacations etc). I’m not suggesting you give up your big vacation, but plan for it so the vacation doesn’t sit on a credit card balance long after your tan fades. Some credit unions even have Vacation and Christmas clubs so that you can contribute on a weekly basis to a separate account for that specific purpose.

Want to give yourself a shock? Tally up how much money you spend on coffee or cigarettes a month. These little things add up and may make you consider adopting healthier lifestyle habits as well.

Pay off Debt
Along with a budget comes repayment of debt. Debt can take the form of a number of things, including school loans, credit card balances, car and personal loans, and of course, your mortgage. The key is to plan and balance what you’ve taken on as debt. The rule of thumb is to pay off higher APR balances first, so you’re paying less in interest.

Save
Want to get ahead financially? Save. There are a million ways to save, but you need to be in the mindset to pay yourself first. Saving will help in the long run, especially with normal, but large,expenses that unexpectedly come up.  That’s why it’s great to have a savings to tap into, so you don’t have to rely on a credit card when these things happen.

Here are some savings options:

Basic Savings – The traditional route and always a good choice if you like to have immediate access to your funds.

Money Market – Secure investment, which offers access to your funds and tiered rates based on balances.

CDs – A timed deposit that locks in your money at a certain rate to earn interest over a certain period of time – usually ranging from 3 months to 5 years. You cannot gain access to your funds without a withdrawal penalty until that term is up.

IRA (for retirement) – Tax-deferred earnings, which are then invested in stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.You can access your IRA funds after a certain mandatory age.

Pay yourself first – set up a payroll deduction. Deposit a certain amount each pay period into a savings account, club account (Christmas or Vacation) or an IRA.  What you don’t see, you don’t miss!

If you follow these tips, you will be well on your way to achieving financial wellness!  For more information on how Metro Credit Union can help, go to www.metrocu.org.

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