New Year, New Financial Goals To Keep You Ahead in 2016
With the New Year come new resolutions and paving a path to achieving your goals. 2016 is only a few days old at this point, and you might find yourself still sifting through what you truly want to accomplish by the end of the year. The Credit Union is here to help with a few financial accomplishments to consider as part of your plan for 2016.
To help you get ahead or get on track with your goals in 2016, consider putting together a budget or fine-tuning the one you navigated through during the past year. Budgeting is an essential tool for knowing exactly how much money you have (income) and how much money is being spent (expenses). If you can get a detailed picture of both income and expenses in front of you, it’s easier to make financial decisions such as cutting back on expenses or finding alternative, less-expensive options, paying down debt more aggressively, and coming up with specific plans for the money you could end up saving.
Click here for access to free budgeting software to get you started.
Make a Savings Plan
In 2016, find a way to better save money by coming up with a plan. Here are a couple of ideas to keep in mind:
Pay Yourself First: The idea of “pay yourself first” is making sure some money from your paycheck, be it a percentage of your total pay (i.e. 10%) or a specific dollar amount (i.e. $20), is going into a savings account before you spend it on bills and other expenses. This will help you consistently work on your savings goals while never missing a step along the way. To ensure this is happening, set up automatic transfers to your savings account every time you get paid and have the money put into specific accounts to save for things such as emergencies, vacations, or large purchases in the future.
The 52-week Challenge: This is the perfect goal/challenge that makes you work (not very hard) every week of the year, and when you reach the end of December 2016 you should have more than $1,300 in your savings account! How it works: All you have to do is set aside the amount of money that corresponds with the week of the year. For example, in week one you will save $1, week two will be $2, and so on. The later weeks get a little trickier, with the last week of the year being the largest amount of money ($52) you will have to save in one week.
Get a Copy of Your Credit Report, Regularly
If you have never accessed a credit report on your own, there is only one place you should go to pull a report for free, annualcreditreport.com. Through the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), each of the credit reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — have to provide you with a free copy of your report, at your request, once every 12 months.
To access your free credit report, annualcreditreport.com is always the place to start. You can request a report(s) directly on the website, call 1-877-322-8228 to make a request, or there is a request form you can print and fill out. Accessing the report directly is the quickest route, while calling or submitting a request form will take up to 15 days.
Pulling your credit history regularly won’t affect your credit score negatively, as it qualifies as a “soft hit.” This means zero points will be deducted from your credit score. There are two important reasons why you want to pull your credit report regularly: to check for accuracy and to safeguard yourself against identity theft. It’s a good idea to look at your credit report before applying for loans, buying insurance, or applying for a job. Your credit history could be a factor in all three instances and any inaccuracies or having your identity stolen could prevent you from getting something you need or achieving a goal you’re trying to accomplish this year.
When using annualcreditreport.com it’s not advised to request all three reports at once. You can request each report — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — separately. In fact, to ensure you are getting a regular, year-long look at your credit report, pull a different report every four months. By doing that, it allows you several checkpoints throughout the year to catch possible identity theft. There is no better time than right now to start accessing your credit report. It’s an important part of your financial wellness in 2016 and beyond.