Improving one’s finances is one of the top ten most popular resolutions in the U.S. Here are a few tips and resources to help you take charge of your financial future.
Take a look at where your money is going.
Start by listing your expenses and categorizing them as either a necessary or a discretionary expense. Necessary expenses are things like rent or mortgage, car payment, gas and electric, and groceries. Discretionary spending includes dining out, specialty coffee drinks, or other kinds of entertainment.
To get a good handle on your spending, you may need to track your expenses for several months. Using our online budget worksheet or other online service may be helpful.
Once you understand where your money is going, it will be easier to start making changes. Redirect the money you save by eliminating discretionary expenses to pay down debt. After your debt is under control, funnel that amount into savings. Build up an emergency savings fund for unexpected expenses and make a plan to save for retirement.
To make a big impact on your household budget, look at your biggest expenses—typically housing and transportation. Many financial professionals recommend that people spend no more than 28 percent of their gross monthly income on housing expenses and no more than 36 percent on total debt. If your housing costs are out of whack, it may be time to consider a move. Driving a more economical car or eliminating an extra vehicle can also save you a substantial amount.
Plan for your future.
Open a 403(b) or IRA. You don’t have to start with a lot—the important thing is to just start. If you already have an account, pledge to increase your contributions, even if it’s just a little bit. Compound interest can help you build that nest egg over time. Check with your school district on when you can make changes to your 403(b) salary reduction agreement.
We make it easy to get started…just visit our Learning Center and you’ll find helpful articles, brochures, eBooks, calculators, and more.
As always, if you have questions, we’re here to help. Give us a call at 1-800-279-4030.