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A new year is right around the corner and many of us are taking stock of our 2017 resolutions and thinking about what we would like to accomplish in 2018. When aiming to improve your personal well-being, don’t forget to consider your financial health. Here are a few ways to improve your financial well-being in 2018:
Set up automatic transfers on your online banking to add to your savings once a month, or each time you get paid. Better yet, have your employer automatically deposit money directly into your savings each paycheck.
Hindsight is 20/20 and most retirees will tell you that they wish they would have invested more money toward retirement, and sooner. If you haven’t already started contributing to either an IRA or started contributing to your employer’s 401K, make 2018 your year to put your future first. Find out if (and how much of) your 401K contributions are matched by your employer and make it your goal to contribute that amount. Consider whatever funds they match as a nice little raise. No 401K benefits at your work? Talk to your banker about your IRA options instead of, or in addition to, your 401K contributions.
Many banks offer bill pay services at little or no cost to you. Spend a few minutes entering all of your payees one time and save time and penalty costs later. Many bill pay services also allow your payees to send their bills directly to your bill pay so that all records and payments are in one place. If the amount due is a static amount, set up reoccurring payments. Most companies also allow you to set up automatic payments directly through them.
The days of a written budget aren’t gone! Financial plans that have been put in writing are more likely to be followed. Put it all in writing (or in an Excel document)—income, expenses (variable and fixed), entertainment, and vacations. If you find that you’re continually going over on many of your variable expenses, ask yourself if the budget is realistic or if you’re simply overspending. Use budgeting software or budget tracking website in addition to, but not in place of, your written budget.
By now we all know the importance of maintaining a positive, and accurate, credit report. We also know how easy it is for our hard work to be compromised with identity theft. Review your current credit report and sign up for a credit monitoring solution to receive alerts if anything changes on your credit.
If you’re paying over 15% on multiple credit cards, you may be finding it is hard to get ahead of your revolving debt. Many Americans can only afford to make the minimum payment on their credit cards, making it impossible to pay off their debt. Stop the cycle of revolving debt and create a light at the end of your debt tunnel. Ask your banker about consolidating your debt with one unsecured loan.