The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to clean out your financial closets—so to speak. By streamlining your money issues and tasks, you can free up time, reduce stress, and may even save some of the green stuff. What’s not to love about that? Some of the ways to simplify your finances just take a few minutes to organize—so let’s get started!
Set up auto payments whenever possible—ideal for reoccurring bills. This money autopilot takes the task out of your hands and avoids late payments. Don’t forget to also automate your contributions to your 401k or any other savings account you may have set up for a special purpose such as saving for a home. Make sure your paycheck is automatically deposited into your account, too.
Use Online Services
it is so much easier (and cheaper, no stamp needed!) to use online services. It is a convenient way to check your balance, transfer funds, and make loan payments. With State ECU online services, you also can utilize Bill Pay, Pop Money (person to person payments), set up reminders, make same-day payments, and more.
By now most of us are accustomed to using our phones for all sorts of things. So why not do your banking whenever, and wherever, you are? Download the State ECU app to do things like:
- Check your balance
- Mobile check deposit
- Transfer funds
- Locate ATMs and branches
- Pop Money transfers
- Pay bills
Card Usage Control
Do you know that the State ECU CardValet app allows you to manage your State ECU debit and credit cards via your phone? You can set spending limits, turn cards on/off, restrict location usage, and receive real-time alerts.
This is a good eco-friendly habit as well as a way to eliminate piles of paper in your home! Do you actually ever look at your pages of statements you receive? So shift account statements, notifications, and bills online. You’ll be glad you did.
Most of us do better by having checking and savings accounts at one financial institution. So find those which best suit your lifestyle. Looking for a high-interest checking account? Check out the FREE Kasasa Cash checking account where you can earn 2.05% on balances up to $50,000. However, if you are planning to apply for a loan wait to close down any bank accounts as it may affect your credit score. But the ding to your score is just temporary. Experian credit-reporting company says, “Although your scores may decrease initially when you close an account, they typically rebound in a few months if you continue to make your payments as agreed, assuming everything else in your credit history remains positive.” Many of us also have established 401ks through various work situations. It is a great idea to roll over 401ks from old employers into one 401k or IRA. This will reduce paperwork and account fees and make retirement management easier. Consider also consolidating loans for stress reduction and savings.
Use One Credit Card
We understand that many credit card offers were hard to pass up! But it is a good idea to choose and use the card that offers you the most of what you are looking for—low interest rate, cash back, travel rewards, etc. In this case, don’t cancel the other cards because it could affect your credit score—just store them away in a safe place (after you pay them off of course).
This is one biggie that most of us just let lag. Did you know by shopping around you could save money and perhaps get better coverage? Once a year you should take the time to do this—get quotes from several insurers to compare. Also consider raising deductibles to lower premiums. See if by having multiple policies, such as home and car, with one insurer gets you a good deal (and thereby simplifies payment as well). One word of caution: be sure to compare based on the same coverage limits, exclusions, coinsurance, and deductibles.
Nix Services You Don’t Need
Think about the services and subscriptions you have and decide if they are really vital. Not only will you save money by making a few cuts, but you will also save time and reduce the effort to manage them.
Create a Financial Calendar
For some of us, this is as hard as scheduling our teeth cleaning appointments. So, create a calendar for all your important financial milestones: quarterly tax payments (if applicable), yearly credit score check, home, life, and car insurance re-evaluation (mentioned previously), yearly health insurance review, tax prep, W-4 tax withholdings review, required minimum distributions from retirement account if older than 70½, etc.
Create a Budget
This goes hand-in-hand with your financial calendar but much more in depth. According to financial resource Nerdwallet, some of the best free apps to monitor and save money include Mint, a gold standard, and PocketGuard. If you prefer to monitor your money the old fashioned way, here is a free budget worksheet to try from Nerdwallet as well.
Prioritize Your Financial Goals
We understand that it sounds counter-intuitive, but having fewer money goals makes it that much easier to achieve success. So pick your top 2-3 this year, and really work toward those. Maybe getting out of debt is your #1 and building up an emergency fund is #2. Those alone are worth the effort.
While it may take a little extra work initially to simplify your financial life—it will pay off by easing up your financial tasks down the road. Who knows? You may want to go tackle cleaning the garage next!