Do My Child’s Activities Really Need to Make Me Go Broke?

little girls playing soccer with coach.jpg

Extracurricular activities are an important part of a child’s development. They allow students to shine in ways that may not be possible in the classroom. It also helps kids step out of their social circles to forge new friendships. They may even be your child’s gateway to a college scholarship and possibly a lucrative career. 

But extracurricular activities are expensive. If you’ve got several school-aged children and each wants to participate in two activities, you can be looking at an investment as high as $10,000 or more for fees, equipment, uniforms, instruments and supplies. 

No worries though; you don’t have to choose between your budget and your children’s happiness. Here are some ways to save on your kids’ extracurricular activities: 

1. Limit the number of after-school activities you allow for each child 

If you’ve got several over-ambitious young ones at home, consider limiting extracurricular activities to just one per child. You’ll be doing your children a favor by forcing them to pick an area of focus, allowing them to channel all their energy in one direction. Plus, it’ll be easier for them to keep track of just one schedule — and it’s a lot easier on your carpool calendar, too! 

2. Register early 

Lots of children’s’ sports programs offer discounts of up to 30 percent just for signing up early. Speak to your children about after-school programs and sports teams well before the season so you can register early and snag those early-bird specials. 

3Purchase used equipment 

Save big on sports gear by purchasing gently used equipment from sites like PlayItAgainSports and SidelineSwap. Some of these sites also allow you to sell your own used equipment. 

4. Swap equipment 

If you have friends with kids who are also into sports and music, see if you can swap equipment and instruments from year to year. 

5.  Rent musical instruments 

If you’ve got budding musicians at home, consider renting the instrument they’ve taken up this year. There’s no way to tell if that burst of passion they’re currently nursing for the oboe is just a passing phase or the beginning of a lifelong hobby. Some instruments, like the French horn, can cost as much as $1,000 but can be rented for as little as $50 a month. 

If your child is convinced they’ve found their instrument of choice, you can purchase gently used musical instruments from resale sites like Craigslist, eBay or Reverb. 

6. Volunteer your time 

If you’ve got the time to coach a team or to walk around selling refreshments during games, you might be able to nab a discount on the program’s fees and equipment. 

By making smart, frugal choices, you can turn your children’s dreams into reality without draining your wallet. 

Your Turn: How do you save on your children’s extracurricular activities? Share your own tips with us in the comments.

 

SOURCES:

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/parenting/g27678115/back-to-school-hacks/

https://www.moneycrashers.com/save-extracurricular-activities-kids-after-school/

https://www.parents.com/parenting/money/saving/11-ways-to-save-on-after-school-activities/

Word of the Month: Credit Card

Father and son using laptop together, online shopping

Kate and her mom were going shopping for school supplies. Kate had her mind set on exactly what she wanted. She’d even scribbled a list of all the things she was going to buy at the store.

“And can’t I get that?” she asked, pointing at the sequined pencil case her best friend Lori had told her about.

“Oh, Kate,” her mom groaned. “We can’t buy the most expensive of every supply on your list!”

Kate was stumped. “But why not?” she asked. “If it’s too much money, you can just put it on your credit card!”

Mom gave her a look, and then said under her breath, “Let’s talk about this a little later, at home. Meanwhile, let’s try to find all of your supplies at decent prices.”

Kate agreed and they finished shopping without any more arguments.

After they’d gone home and put away all of Kate’s supplies, Mom prepared two tall glasses of lemonade. She sat down at the kitchen table, across from Kate.

“Let me explain how it works, Kate,” she said. “A credit card isn’t ‘free money.’”

Kate yawned. “I know, I know—you get a bill at the end of the month and you need to pay it all back.”

Mom nodded. “Exactly. But there’s a few things you don’t know about credit cards.”

“Like what?”

“First of all,” said Mom, “lots of credit cards cost money just to have. It’s called an ‘annual fee.’ Also, credit cards don’t lend you that money for free. They charge you interest on every purchase you make.”

“Interest?”

“That means extra money, a certain percentage of the purchase that you need to pay to the credit card company.”

“So it really costs you more than the price!” Kate broke in.

“Exactly,” Mom smiled. “You won’t have to pay the interest if you pay the full amount on your bill on time, but most people don’t. And then they end up paying for that one little purchase for months—or even years and years!”

“So, if the best way to use a credit card is to pay up your full bill each month, why have one at all?” Kate asked. “Why not just use cash?”

“That’s a great question,” Mom said. “There are two main reasons people have credit cards other than to help them pay for stuff they can’t really afford,” she explained. “One is to get the rewards. Lots of credit cards offer points and money back for specific purchases you make on the card.”

“Cool!” said Kate. “Like a bonus for spending money?”

“Right,” said mom. “But it sometimes can get out of control and people spend more than they planned just because they’re getting some points out of the deal. So it doesn’t quite work out as planned. Plus, lots of rewards cards have an annual fee, so they’re expensive just to have.”

“Wow,” Kate said. “And what’s the second reason?”

Mom reached into her wallet and pulled out her MasterCard. “You see this?” she asked. “This helped me buy our house!”

Kate’s eyed bulged. “You can buy a house on a credit card?”

Mom threw back her head and laughed. “No, Kate,” she said. “Let me explain. Let’s say someone has a bunch of open credit cards but they’re super-careful with how they use them. They’re always careful about paying their balance on time and they never rack up huge bills. What does that say about them?”

“They’re responsible!” Kate said. “They know how to pay back what they borrow and they don’t spend too much money.”

“Exactly!” Mom smiled. “So when someone wants to take out a huge loan—like a loan that will help them buy a house, the people lending them that money will look at the way they use their credit cards. It’s called their credit history and credit score. The person’s credit history will tell the borrower about their credit card use in the past, and their credit score is like a grade which shows how responsible they’ve been with their credit. Are you following?

Kate nodded. “I think so.”

“So, why do you think the lender will look at their credit history and credit score when deciding if they will lend this person money to buy a house?”

“Because they want to make sure the person will pay them back!” Kate exclaimed.

“You’re catching on really quickly,” Mom grinned. “I was always very careful with my credit cards, and that helped us get a mortgage for this house!”

“Wow,” Kate said. She had a lot to think about. “What do you say we open a credit card for me, Mom?” She asked. “I want to start building my credit score right now!”

Talking points:

  • Can you explain the way a credit card works?
  • Why do you think credit card companies let people borrow so much money from them?
  • Are credit cards a good way to purchase something you can’t afford? Why, or why not?

8 Things To Do If Your Identity Is Stolen

Retiree - Financial planning

  1. Lock the compromised account. Dispute any fraudulent charges on your compromised accounts and ask to have them locked, or even shut down.
  2. Place a fraud alert on your credit reports. This helps alert creditors that someone may be trying to open accounts in your name. Contact one out of the three credit bureaus to add the fraud alert to all three. Visit Equifax.com or Experian.com or Transunion.com.
  3. Consider a credit freeze. This will make it impossible for the scammer to open a credit line or loan in your name.
  4. Alert the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). Visit https://www.identitytheft.gov and follow the site’s instructions.
  5. Strengthen your passwords. In addition to changing them, use strong and different passwords for all your online accounts.
  6. Check your account statements. It’s best to do so frequently to look for suspicious activity.
  7. Open new credit cards and accounts. Replace compromised accounts that you’ve shut down so you can be inconvenienced as little as possible.
  8. Repair your credit. Be extra careful about paying your bills on time and keeping your credit utilization low.

Your Turn: Have you ever been the victim of credit card fraud? Share your story with us in the comments.

7 Steps To A Mid-Year Financial Checkup

7-Steps-to-Your-Mid-year-Financial-Checkup

It’s hard to believe, but 2019 is half over. Take a timeout from barbecues and beaches to give yourself a mid-year financial checkup. Use the seven steps below to guide you. 

Step 1: Revisit Your Budget 

Take some time to review your monthly budget. Is it working for you or are you falling behind each month? After reviewing, adjust your budget as necessary. 

Step 2: Anticipate Large Expenses 

List any large expenses you anticipate in the coming six months. This can include household appliances that may need replacing or an anticipated medical expense that is not fully covered by insurance. 

Next, determine the spending category you will take the money from to cover these expenses. Deciding on a source for these funds now will help you avoid making the wrong choices when you’re under pressure in the future. 

If you do not have enough money set aside for these expenses, build a savings plan into your monthly budget so you have the funds available when you need them. 

Step 3: Review Your Tax Withholdings 

Review your tax withholdings to see if they need any adjusting. Your goal here is to pay the perfect amount so you’re not hit with a huge tax bill at the end of the year, but you’re also not lending the government your money all year long. 

Step 4: Check Your Credit Score 

Visit AnnualCreditReport.com for your free credit report from any of the three major credit bureaus. If your score has gone up in the last six months, you’re doing great! 

Conversely, if your score has dropped, review your report in detail. Take the necessary steps to fix your score today, whether that means contesting an erroneous charge with the Federal Trade Commission, setting up an automatic payment on some of your bills or lowering your credit utilization rate by paying with plastic less often. 

Step 5: Review Your Investments 

Review and adjust all of your investments. This includes your retirement funds, any stock investments, bonds, trust funds or share certificates at Mutual Credit Union. Make sure you are maximizing your contributions when possible and that your other investments are performing according to plan. Adjust as necessary.   

Step 6: Tackle Your Debt 

List every outstanding debt you carry, including credit card debt and all kinds of loans. Designate one debt to tackle first and work on a plan to pay it down. Once you’ve paid off this debt, move to the next one on your list. 

Step 7: Review Your Financial Resolutions and Long-term Goals 

Review the financial resolutions and goals you dreamed up at the end of 2018 and then determine whether you are taking the steps necessary for making them happen. If you’ve been neglecting them, create a plan for working toward them for the rest of the year. 

Now you can kick back and enjoy the remaining summer season, guilt-free. 

Your Turn: What’s on your list for your mid-year financial checkup? Tell us about it in the comments.

 

SOURCES:

https://money.cnn.com/2016/07/28/investing/financial-checklist/index.html

https://onebiteblog.com/its-time-for-your-mid-year-financial-checkup/

Mutual CU Text Messaging Service Released August 1st

PRESS RELEASE

Thursday, August 1, 2019

(Vicksburg, MS) Effective Thursday, August 1, 2019, Mutual Credit Union will release a fraud monitoring service linked to every debit card holder and on August 20, 2019 to every credit card holder. President of Mutual Credit Union, Michael Mathews stated, ” We are always searching for methods to improve communications with members regarding their account. With a majority of our membership listing their cell phones as their primary contact method, adding capabilities to send and receive text messages proves to be a more efficient means of communication.”

Mutual CU has provided text alerts for several years prior to August 1, 2019 however, members had to first enroll in text alerts for fraud monitoring within their online banking. With this upgrade, every member will receive this level of protection as an automatic enrollment. Fraud detection is constantly running behind the scenes —– analyzing data from attempted fraudulent transactions across the world to identify trends that can then help identify potential cases of fraud. If a transaction meeting these trends occurs, our Mutual’s fraud call center will contact you. You will receive a text message from the 5-digit code 37268 or you will receive a voice mail message from 1-877-273-5740. You will never be asked for your financial information over text message or by phone. A simple “Yes” or “NO” answer is required from you to confirm or deny suspect transactions. For more tips and answers to any additional questions you might have about the new Mutual Credit Union Fraud Monitoring Service, please visit our web page at https://www.mutualcu.org.

We thank you for your membership and look forward to continuing to serve you and your families.

Sincerely,

Michael-Mathews-Sign-3.jpg

Michael Mathews

President

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All You Need to Know About Remote Deposit Capture

In a world where you can order almost anything using your mobile phone, it makes sense that we, Mutual Credit Union offers a complete mobile banking experience for our members. remote-check-capture

One of the most convenient features we offer through our mobile banking service is Remote Deposit Capture. All it takes to deposit a check is a few minutes of your time and a phone with internet access. 

Let’s take a closer look at remote deposit capture and mobile deposits. 

What is remote deposit capture? 

Remote check capture is a way for you to deposit a check into your Mutual Credit Union Checking Account from a distant location using a mobile device with internet access. You can be practically anywhere in the world and make your deposit at any time. 

The process is simple: You’ll sign into your Mutual Credit Union mobile app and prepare your check for deposit. Tap on the Check Deposits icon and the app will guide you through snapping a picture of both the front and the back of the check. You’ll also be asked to verify the check amount. Once you’ve made the confirmation, your check will be submitted for deposit into your account. 

It’s that easy. 

The benefits of remote check capture 

1. Convenience. As mentioned, with remote check capture, you can make your deposit anywhere, at any time.

2. Speed. Your check will generally clear more quickly through a mobile deposit than it will through an ATM deposit.

3. Accuracy. You’ll be asked to confirm the check amount for accuracy. On the small chance that an error or rejection happens, you’ll still have the physical check, which you can then deposit at any Mutual Branch location. 

Some facts you may not know about remote check capture 

A. Deposit limits. For your safety, the maximum amount you can remotely deposit in one check is $2500.

B. Bounced checks. Just like a confirmed check deposit can end up bouncing several days later, if we cannot collect the funds, a mobile deposit can also be returned for the same reasons.

C. Holds on checks. Any checks deposited after our evening cutoff of p.m. will be placed on hold until the next business day. 

But is it safe? 

We take many precautions for ensuring your personal information is protected throughout the remote check capture process. 

First, no one can sign into your Mutual Credit Union mobile account without two-factor authentication. Always use strong, unique passwords. 

Second, our mobile app does not store your check images in your phone. Once your check has been submitted, the image is erased from your phone and stored only in our own software. 

Finally, if an error occurs, you’ll always have the physical check to deposit if necessary. 

Mutual Credit Union Remote Deposit Capture is quick, easy and safe. Try it today! 

For even more information on Mutual Credit Union Remote Deposit Capture, visit our website .

Your Turn: What do you love about remote check capture? Tell us about it in the comments!

SOURCES:

https://www.thebalance.com/mobile-check-deposits-vs-atm-deposits-315007

https://www.bankrate.com/banking/5-crucial-facts-everyone-should-know-about-mobile-check-deposit/amp/

https://www.digitalcheck.com/history-of-rdc/

The Credit Union Difference: The History of Credit Unions

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As a member of Mutual Credit Union, you know the heart of any credit union is to serve members and communities as much as possible. We value each member’s input as an equal owner in the credit union, and we offer flexible loan terms, low-cost accounts and higher dividends to help members achieve and maintain financial wellness. 

This article is the first in a series celebrating the history, contributions and benefits of credit unions. 

Both credit unions and banks provide consumers with financial services and products, but there are many distinctions between the two. The primary credit union difference lies at its core; Banks are created to generate profit for owners while credit unions are created to provide members with a place to manage their finances at the best possible terms. 

The goal of putting members first is deeply rooted in the history of the credit union movement. 

The first credit union was established in 1864 by Friedrich Raiffeisen in southern Germany. Raiffeisen proposed that all community members pool resources so individuals in need of loans could easily access the necessary funds. Raiffeisen’s idea was well-received, and the first credit union model was soon established. 

In 1909, the credit union movement reached American shores. With Edward Filene serving as its pioneer, the movement gained momentum and continued to grow. In 1920, Edward hired attorney Roy F. Bergengren to assist him in generating the movement’s expansion. Roy created a more systemized concept for the credit union we know today.  

In 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Federal Credit Union Act into law.

Federally chartered credit unions in every state were legally authorized to create a system of not-for-profit cooperatives to promote thrift and sound financial practices. 

In 1970, the public’s confidence in the credit union model grew stronger as the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund was established. With it, credit union deposits became federally insured much like the FDIC insures bank deposits. 

The credit union movement was growing at its most rapid pace, with credit union assets in America tripling between 1970 and 1979. Then, in 1977, another credit union-friendly regulation was signed into law, empowering credit unions to offer more services and products to members. 

Today, the credit union movement continues to thrive and is backed by the “full faith and credit of the United States Government.” These not-for-profit institutions serve their 103 million+ members by always putting their members’ needs first.   

Here at Mutual Credit Union, we’re proud to join the chain of institutions committed to the credit union mission. As a member-owned cooperative, our only objective is your success. 

Be a part of the credit union movement by calling, clicking or stopping by any of our five branch locations of Mutual Credit Union today to benefit from our personalized service. 

Your Turn: How does the core credit union value impact your finances in a positive way? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

 

SOURCES:

https://www.mycreditunion.gov/about-credit-unions/historical-timeline

https://www.thebalance.com/national-credit-union-share-insurance-fund-ncusif-315404

https://www.creditkarma.com/advice/i/difference-between-credit-union-and-bank/%3Famp

https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/banking/credit-unions-vs-banks/

Word of the Month: Debit Card

Teacher and student

Brandon was super-excited. His mom was taking him to Chuck E. Cheese’s today!

“Am I going to get a lot of tokens?” he asked his mom as they drove together. “I need a whole bunch so I can get a ton of tickets and win the best prize!”

Mom just smiled. “You’ll have enough,” she said.

They pulled up in front of Chuck E. Cheese’s and made their way inside. While Brandon’s mom got busy in front of the token machine, Brandon checked out a few of the games and tried to find the best ones to start with.

“Brandon,” mom called. She had finished paying and was holding out a card.

Brandon took it from her, puzzled. “What’s this?” he asked. “Don’t I need tokens to play?”

“Nope—you use this card,” mom explained. “You just scan it in front of the game you want, and it lets you play.”

Mom showed Brandon how to use the card, and he was soon off trying to win the most tickets he possibly could.

Brandon had a great time playing arcade games—until his card stopped working.

“Hey, mom!” he called, running towards where she sat, working on her laptop. “My card’s broken! I need a new one!”

Brandon’s mom quickly snapped her laptop closed. “There’s nothing wrong with your card, Brandon,” she said.

“So why isn’t it working?” he asked.

“Because you used up all the money I put on it!”

“What do you mean?” Brandon was confused.

Mom stood up and motioned for Brandon to follow her. She walked toward the machine she’d used earlier and started punching in numbers.

“I need to put money into the card in order for it to work,” she said. “It’s like a debit card.”

“A what?”

Mom reached into her purse and pulled out a plastic card. “This is a debit card,” she said. “I have a checking account at the credit union. I put money into that account, and when I use this card, money comes out of my account. Do you understand?”

Brandon nodded slowly.

“And that’s sort of how this machine works, too,” mom continued. “In order for you to use the card, I need to put money onto it.”

“And when I finish that money,” Brandon said, “I can’t use the card anymore, right?”

Mom smiled. “Exactly. Then we need to put more money into the ‘account.’”

Mom stuck her debit card into the card machine and punched a few numbers again. Then she took Brandon’s playing card and put it into the machine, too. A minute later, the machine beeped and both cards came sliding out.

“Here you go, Brandon,” mom said. “Your debit card is ready to use!”

Talking Points:

  • How is the card at Chuck E. Cheese’s like a regular debit card? How is it different?
  • Why do people use cards instead of cash (or tokens)?
  • Do you think people spend more or less money when they use a debit card instead of cash? Explain your answer.

Steps 1 thru 12 to Living a Debt Free Life

working on her accounts

Step One: Take Stock of Your Debt

You’re determined that this will be the year you finally pay down (or pay off) that debt. Get ready, because every month, our Do It Today plan will have you taking another step on your journey toward living a debt-free life. 

First, sit down and take stock of all your debts. Don’t let the numbers scare you; you need to do this to move forward. Get out every single credit card bill, personal loan, student loan, and any other debt you’re carrying (except your car and mortgage payments). Tally up the numbers to give yourself an idea of what you’re dealing with. 

Next, organize your debt into different categories, such as credit card debt, student debt, personal loans etc. Use a spreadsheet to list your debt, the remaining term of each loan (if applicable), the minimum payment and the interest rate.   

Finally, designate one hour each week for working on your finances. 

Step Two: Don’t dig yourself deeper

When you’ve dug yourself deep into a pit, the only way to get out is to stop digging. This month, focus on not racking up more debt. Stop using your credit cards. Skip your weekly trips that usually have you buying too many non-essentials.

Instead, start brown-bagging your work lunch and brewing your own coffee. Get into the habit of spending only on essentials so you can make real progress toward paying down that debt.

Don’t forget to make the minimum payments on every line of credit and loan you have open. Neglecting your debt will only pull you deeper into the pit.

Step Three: Negotiate a lower APR

If the majority of your outstanding debit is credit card debt, you may be spending hundreds of dollars just on interest alone. Aside from wasting money, this keeps you from moving forward and paying down your debt.

Most people don’t know you can call up a credit card company and negotiate for a lower APR. Take the time this month to do that. Explain that you are working on paying down your debt and that the interest payments are impeding your progress. You can even research competing cards and cite their interest rates in a bid for a lower APR from your current credit card company.

Lowering your interest rates will allow you to make another real step toward getting rid of debt.

Step Four: Create an emergency fund

You may be feeling impatient to start more aggressively paying down debt, but it’s important important to first create an emergency fund. If you don’t have money socked away for unexpected expenses, you’ll be tempted to use the money that’s already earmarked for your debt payments to fund this expense.

Experts recommend keeping three months’ worth of living expenses in an emergency fund, but you can start with a modest $1,000. Set up an automatic monthly or weekly transfer from your [credit union] Checking Account to your Savings Account until you have a fully padded emergency fund. This may take several months, but no worries, you can continue following the next few steps towards a debt-free life as your emergency fund grows.

Step Five: Create a budget

This month, you’re going to organize your finances. Hold onto every receipt, bill, paystub and invoice you produce throughout the month. Sometime during the last week of May, sit down with all of your paperwork and start crunching the numbers.

When you’re through, you should have all of these questions answered:

  • How much is my net monthly income?
  • How much are my monthly fixed expenses?
  • How much are my monthly non-fixed expenses?

Now that you have the numbers in front of you, work on creating a budget. Designate the necessary funds for your fixed expenses. Then, with the remaining money, determine how much you will spend in each non-fixed expense category; like groceries, clothing, entertainment, etc.

Put your minimum debt payments in the fixed-expenses category, with another category for extra debt payments in your column of non-fixed expenses.

Step Six: Trim Expenses

Now that we have a budget, let’s slim it down!

You’ve already practiced spending less thanks to Step#2 in this series. Now, it’s time to get serious about it. Take a long, hard look at the money you spend each month and find your weak spots. Where do you spend the most on unnecessary purchases? What’s your particular vice? You may even have several spending traps. How can you cut back on your daily expenses?

Any extra money you save goes toward your debt payments.

Step Seven: Create A Debt Snowball

You’ve organized your debt, you’ve set up an emergency fund and you’re working on spending less. You’re now ready to start getting rid of that debt…for good!

Choose the debt you’d like to pay down first. Financial expert Dave Ramsey suggests starting from the smallest debt and working your way up. You can also choose to start with the debt that carries the highest interest rate. Either way, once you’ve paid down the first loan or line of credit, you’ll move onto the next and continue to work your way through all remaining debt until you’re completely debt-free.

For now, paying off this debt will be your top priority. Be sure to pay the minimum payments on all other debts, but any extra money you have at the end of the month goes towards the first one. Start with the minimum payments you were making anyways, and add the money that was previously going towards setting up your savings account to create your debt snowball. Whenever possible, try to add money to your snowball to accelerate your progress.

Doesn’t this feel great? You’re on your way to a debt-free life!

Step Eight: Releasing in August ………………….

5 Ways To Spring Clean Your Finances

5-Ways-to-Spring-Clean-Your-Finances-studying your PC

Q: Spring is here! I’ve cleaned out my house and now I’m ready to take on my finances. I’d love to give them a thorough cleaning, too. Where do I start? 

A: It’s wonderful that you’ve decided to clean up your finances. Springtime is months after the holiday squeeze and still a while away from the pricey summer season, making it a prime time for whipping your finances into shape. 

So, let’s get cleaning! 

1. Dust Off Your New Year’s Resolutions 

We get it: New Year’s resolutions get stale as soon as the calendar hits February. But this was the year you were really fired up and ready to conquer the world. Why sell yourself short when your goals are actually within reach? 

Use the fresh energy and renewal of spring to revisit the list of resolutions you penned back at the end of 2018. What were your budgeting goals? What were your savings dreams? Have you achieved any of those goals? If not, what’s holding you back? 

Take stock of where you are financially and get back on track, moving forward and toward those goals. It’s not too late to make it happen this year! 

Do it today: Dig out that paper with your New Year’s resolutions and go through your financial goals one at a time. Did you overreach? Were you irresponsible? Tweak and adjust as necessary, create a new tracking system if the existing one isn’t working, and then get out there and own those goals! 

2. Sweep Out Your Monthly Budget 

Now that you’ve taken stock of your resolutions, take a good look at your monthly budget. 

Review your spending habits of the last few months. What are your weak spots? Where can you cut back? Have you been allotting too much money for one category and not enough for another? It’s time to take stock! 

Do it today: Review your monthly budget and choose one area to trim. Create concrete and realistic steps to make that happen. For instance, try the money envelope system to keep you on track, or stick to cash-only so you don’t slip up. Your budget will thank you! 

3. Freshen Up Your W-4 

You might be celebrating a generous tax return this year, but that only means the government has been handling some of your money all year long instead of it earning more for you. It’s almost like giving the government an interest-free loan! You could have used those funds to start investing, add to an existing emergency fund, launch a business or to save for your dream summer getaway. 

Take a closer look at your W-4 so you don’t overpay in taxes again this year. 

Do it today: Spend some time researching your best withholding options or ask your accountant to help you work out the numbers. Adjust your W-4 accordingly and submit it to the payroll specialists at your workplace. 

4. Pile Up Your Savings 

Once you’re cutting down on your spending habits and taking home a larger check each payday, why not use the extra money to bump up your savings? You can add to an existing fund, build a new one, open a Savings Certificate or start investing. You have many great options! 

Speak to a Mutual Credit Union representative today to find out about our fantastic savings options. 

Do it today: After choosing a savings option, stop by any Mutual Credit Union branch to set up a direct deposit. Each month, your money will be automatically transferred from your checking account to your new account. It’s the ultimate in set-it-and-forget-it! 

5. Toss Your Debt 

This spring, while you try on old, scratchy sweaters and make piles of junk to toss in the trash or sell for cash, why not get rid of your debt, too? 

Debt is ugly on you. It holds you back from moving forward, keeps you in a spending trap that only gets stronger with time and clings to you like caked-on mud. Wash it all off this spring with an actionable plan to get rid of that debt for good! 

Do it today: We know that paying down debt is easier said than done. But, you can do it! All you need is a plan. Review your debts and pick one to pay off first. It can be the debt with the smallest amount of total owed or the one with the steepest interest rate. Find a way to double down on your payments toward that debt. You can do it by taking on a side hustle, seeking a promotion at work or trimming existing expenses. After you’ve paid down this debt, move onto the next one. Accelerate its payoff by applying the total payment amount from your first debt to the new one – in addition to the regular payment you were making on it. Keep going until they’re all gone. It might take until next spring, but eventually, you’ll kick all of your debt to the curb! 

Spring is here—it’s time to freshen up your finances so they’ll be in tip-top shape for summer! 

Your Turn: How do you clean out your finances in the spring? Share your best tips with us in the comments.

 

SOURCES:

https://www.thebalance.com/spring-clean-your-finances-2385567

https://www.moneytalksnews.com/13-tips-for-spring-cleaning-your-finances/

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T065-C032-S014-3-ways-to-spring-clean-your-finances.html