7 New Year’s Resolutions For A Richer 2017

The New Year is a great time of renewal. That makes it a good time to make bold, decisive changes in your life. Leave behind the baggage that was 2016 and start fresh with a blank slate in 2017. If you’re looking for some resolutions to improve your personal finances, we’re pleased to offer seven ways to make 2017 the year of the dollar!

1.) Track your spending

If you’re looking to take your first steps toward financial literacy, figuring out where your money goes should be at the top of your list. If you don’t know where your money goes, it’s going to be tough to follow through with any other money plans. You may have a general sense of how much you spend, but after a month where you’ve recorded every dollar, you’ll have a much better picture. Using apps like Mint or Personal Capital can automate the process. You might even find that keeping track of what you do with your money encourages you to spend a little more judiciously.

2.) Make a budget

About 70% of Americans live financially spontaneous lives. They don’t make a plan for spending or saving. When asked why they chose not to do so, the most common response was that the family spent all the money anyway. This is a circular problem. If you don’t have a budget that includes setting aside money for long-term expenses and savings, you’ll end up spending all your money on unplanned things and events. The best way to stop the cycle is to sit down and make a budget that modifies your spending to be more in line with your priorities.

3.) Get out of debt

Easier said than done, right? However, there’s no bigger stumbling block to financial security and wealth building than debt. It’s hard to save for long-term goals when so much of your monthly income gets eaten up by interest and fees. There are a variety of methods you can use to help accelerate your payoffs. For instance, you can add an extra $50 or $100 to your credit card payments. Or, you can focus all your payment resources on the highest interest debt until it’s paid off and then move it all to the next highest for snowballing your way to freedom from debt.

4.) Start an emergency fund

The best way to avoid going into debt is to have some money on hand to handle the occasional, yet inevitable, emergency. Most Americans, though, can’t come up with $500 in such instances. Set a specific goal, like adding $10 per month to a savings account. At the end of the year, you’ll have more than $100 available in case something goes wrong.

5.) Start a retirement account

You can’t save for what you don’t think about. When retirement is years or decades away, it’s difficult to incorporate thinking about it into your daily routine. If you have a retirement account open, you’ll get monthly statements, which serve as reminders. The challenge, though, is taking that first step. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. While there are important differences between Roth and Traditional accounts, either one is better than no retirement savings at all. If your job offers a 401(k) matching program, sign up to get at least the full matching funds amount – it’s free money. Do a little bit of research, then open the account that seems like the best idea.

6.) Automate your savings

Saving money takes willpower. Because it’s hard to practice self-denial on a constant basis, that extra $5 you’ve earmarked for savings can very easily turn into a mid-morning coffee. Fighting that impulse is a constant struggle. That’s why it’s easiest to avoid the decision altogether. Change your direct deposit to put some of your paycheck directly into a savings account, where you won’t even think of spending it impulsively.

7.) Get educated

Knowledge is power, and that’s especially true in the world of personal finance. What you know about your money goes a long way toward determining how much of it you get to keep. There’s a lot to learn, but you’ve got a wealth of information at your fingertips. Resolve to read one personal finance article a week (subscribing to this Blog can be a great start). Not only will this give you good ideas for improving your personal financial situation; you’ll also spend more time thinking about your money. That will lead to positive results down the line!

Happy New Year from all of us at Destinations Credit Union. We hope you have a safe, happy, and prosperous 2017!

Your Turn: What resolutions are you making this year? Will 2017 be the year you join a book club, quit smoking or spend more time with your family? Let us know in the comments!.

Resolve to Keep Those Resolutions

A month into the new year, many of us may be flagging on our good intentions to keep our New Year’s resolutions.

According to the Journal of Clinical Psychology, the third most popular New Year’s resolution for 2014 is to spend less and save more.  They also report that 34% of all New Year’s resolutions are money related.  

Getting a better handle on your money has many benefits including reducing your stress! A study by the American Psychological Association revealed that out of the eight top sources of stress, five were financial

Accel, a trusted partner for Destinations Credit Union, offers unlimited financial counseling at no cost to our members – Destinations Credit Union pays them to assist our members. Accel counselors help members get at the root of members’ financial trouble and provide steps for dealing with it.  In fact, we often hear from members that they feel more positive about their situation and that a weight has been lifted after speaking with a counselor for the first time.

  • Spend Less, Save More – Accel offers members FREE financial counseling with a certified counselor who can work with them to develop a budget and action plan based on their personal situation and goals.
  • Make a Big Ticket Purchase – Accel’s credit report review is great for members planning on financing, as a counselor can help them check for and dispute errors and give advice on improving their credit score.  Accel also offers housing counseling designed to help first-time homeowners prepare for their purchase. 
  • Get Out of Debt – Members have access to Accel’s Debt Management Plan (DMP) at no charge.  DMPs are an effective way to pay off debt in full.  On average, members can be debt free in 3-5 years!  

If you’re already a member of Destinations Credit Union, get started today by calling
1-877-33ACCEL (332-2235).  If you’re not a member yet, apply online and start saving money today.


Start Smart This Year

It’s that time again….a new year, a fresh start, and resolutions to be made.

We all have things we’d like to improve in our lives – lose weight, exercise more, quit bad habits, or whatever.  At Destinations Credit Union, we can’t help much with those kinds of resolutions, but we can help you get your finances in order.

If you have resolved to improve your financial life this year, we’re here to help.  During the month of January, we’re offering a free financial check-in by appointment only.  One of our representatives will meet with you to get a sense of your financial goals and give you some tips to get started on the road to meeting those goals. Call 410-663-2500 ext 124 and make your appointment today!

Know the Score

Get your credit report once a year at www.annualcreditreport.com or get a copy directly from each of the three major credit bureaus.  Since you are entitled to one free report from each of the major credit bureaus each year, stagger the reports so you get one every 4 months.  That way, you can keep on top of anything that may be wrong and protect yourself against identity theft.  If you want to know your credit score, you get it at no cost through creditkarma.com.  The better your credit score, the better your loan rates, insurance premiums and more.  If you don’t have the best credit score, Destinations Credit Union can help you work on improving it.

Follow the Paper Trail

Your monthly bills probably don’t come in paper anymore, but you get the idea.  Discovering what and when you pay gives you a 100% accurate view of your financial picture.  And remember: don’t get surprised by semi-annual expenses like real estate taxes or annual expenses like license plate registration.

Create a Spending Plan

Being on a budget may sound like being on a diet, but it isn’t.  It’s a map of where your money will go each month.  Use a spreadsheet, checkbook register or an online money management tool like our MoneyDesktop.  Determine when you get paid and when you pay bills – then stick with the process that works for you.

Step Up To Savings

A healthy savings account doesn’t magically happen.  It’s the result of setting small goals and sticking to them.  Commit now to put as little as $5 or $10 or $20 per paycheck into a savings account.  By the end of 2014 that account could have hundreds in it, maybe even thousands.  Once you reach your savings goal, set another.

Tackle Debt Like a Pro

Following advice from financial gurus like Dave Ramsey isn’t the easy way out – it’s common financial sense. Be honest about what you owe and pay as much as you can on one credit card or loan until it’s paid off.  Then move to the next debt.  Before you know it, you’ll be debt-free!