Everyone has an idea of where they would like to be financially in life. Whether it be retiring with a certain amount in the bank, or simply saving up enough money for a nice vacation, having goals for your finances can be a motivating way to stay on the right track. So how do you effectively set goals? Here are a few easy steps to get you started in the right direction:
What Do You Want?
The first step to any goal setting exercise is to find out what you want. Do you want to increase your savings? Do you want to send your kids to college sans loans? Whatever your objectives are, you need to define them before you can make a plan of action. Having a “why” behind your goals will help you stick with the plan even when the going gets tough.
Get Your Priorities Straight
After you have decided on all of your financial goals, it’s time to prioritize. Chances are you are not going to be able to work on all of your goals at the same time. You need to figure out which goals are the most important right now, and when it has been completed, start on another one. Taking it one goal at a time will help you stay focused and keep you motivated while you see your progress every month.
Of course the “B-word” is going to show up in this list! Budgeting is arguably the single most effective way to reach your financial goals quickly. When you have a budget, you are telling your money where you want it to go and not the other way around. You can work your financial goals into your budget easily, and if you stick to your budget, you will see progress on your goals quickly.
Once you start working on your goals, it’s important to keep track of your progress. This helps you see where you are and how far you have to go. It will also keep you motivated to finish what you start. Likewise, if something isn’t working for you, you can go back to where you have been tracking your goals to see what is wrong and make the necessary adjustments. Reaching your financial goals is just easier when you keep track.
So there you have it–easy, sensible ways to make financial goals and stick to them. It’s not hard, it just takes a little work to get it going. If you follow these simple steps, you will be on your way to financial freedom in no time.
Halloween is just around the corner, and if you aren’t careful, it can cost you lots of money. In fact, every year it seems more Americans are spending more and more money to celebrate the holiday. Between the costumes, parties and candy it can add up quickly. Here are a few ways to keep the Halloween costs at a minimum while still having a fun time.
Plan, Plan, Plan
The secret to managing money in any situation is to plan out your spending ahead of time. Holidays are no exception. Plan out which costumes you want, and find out if you can make them or if you have to buy them. How much candy will you need? Are there any decorations you need or parties to attend? Make a Halloween budget and save up your money ahead of time so that you won’t have to scrape up the money when the day comes.
A great costume is always a priority for kids and adults alike. When you are planning out what you want to dress up as, consider finding creative ways to make your own costume. You don’t have to be a seamstress to DIY a costume. Search the internet for clever or original costume ideas that won’t break the bank. If you do decide to purchase a costume, always compare prices before you take the plunge and actually purchase one.
seems like more people are decorating their homes for Halloween with every year that passes. If decorating is something you love to do, consider saving money by making your own decorations. Dollar stores have many of the supplies needed to make spooky decorations for a fraction of the price. Plus, you get to explore your crafty side and have fun while making them. Just search the internet for tutorials–there are a ton out there.
Buy Candy Strategically
A few weeks before the actual holiday, many of the big box stores start putting their Halloween candy on sale. If you are strategic with the sales you can pay way less for candy than you would if you were to buy it at regular price. Also, look for any coupons for candy. Many manufacturers send out coupons in the newspaper for candy in the weeks leading up to Halloween, and some stores have their own coupons as well. So, scavenge the sales papers and get your coupons ready, and you won’t spend a fortune on candy this year.
So you see, Halloween doesn’t have to break the bank. With a little planning, you can make the holiday fun and still stick to your budget.
Have you downloaded WCU’s Mobile App yet? If not, what are you waiting for? WCU has made credit union banking super simple with this year’s addition to their online banking program. So what can you do with the mobile app?
With the mobile app, you can check balances on all of your accounts. Long gone are the days of wondering how much you have in your checking account–you can look it up instantly on your mobile device.
The mobile app also lets you make transfers between different accounts with the click of a button. Just log into the app and go the transfer tab in the main menu. You can transfer to and from any of your active accounts.
Do you want to review a transaction that happened over a year ago? If you have the mobile app, you can view your account history at a glance right from your phone, on-the-go.
Our mobile app is fast, secure and best of all completely free if you have an account with us at WCU. Just go to Google Play or the Apple App Store and download your way to easy banking with WCU.
Saving money is a goal most of us probably have in common. Some people may want to save money to just simply add to their wealth, and others may want to have a good amount of savings in case emergencies arise. Whatever your motive, it can sometimes be hard to find the extra money each month to put back for a rainy day–especially if you live paycheck to paycheck.
Here are some simple ways you may not have thought of to save money each month:
Fees Are (Sometimes) Negotiable
Does credit card interest deter you from paying down your debt in a timely manner? Do you pay checking account fees to your bank? What about processing fees to other vendors? If you can answer any of these questions with a “yes,” you may be able to negotiate these fees or even waive them all together. This falls into the “you never know until you ask” category. Call your credit card company or bank and simply ask if they will either waive your fee or at least give you a lower interest rate. If they say no, you are no worse off than you were before the call, but if they say yes, you’ve just saved yourself some money each month. You’d be surprised how many times they actually do say yes.
Check Your Subscriptions
If you are like most Americans these days, you probably have a lot of subscriptions to a lot of different things. It’s good to sit down and take a good hard look at everything you are subscribed to. Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, subscription boxes, grocery subscriptions, meal plan subscription, book subscriptions–anything that you pay monthly is technically a subscription. Compile a list and honestly go through it and ask yourself if you really use that subscription or get your money’s worth out of it. Does it add any value or happiness to your life? If so, then keep it. If not, it’s time to cancel. You will probably be surprised at how much you will be willing to let go in the name of saving some money each month.
Food is always a big category in any budget. If you are ever looking to cut money, the food category is a good place to start. How much money do you spend eating out? How much money do you spend on food out due to poor planning on your part? If your honest, probably a lot. Each week (or month), make a meal plan for every meal and snack you are going to eat. When you make a plan, account for any leftovers that can be re-purposed into another meal. When you plan everything out like this, you will always know what your next meal is going to be, and therefore, you won’t be stuck in a situation that forces you to spend money to eat out. Buying groceries off your meal plan instead of daily meals out will save you a ton of money each month if you stick to your plan.
Direct Deposit To Savings
Perhaps the easiest way to ensure you save money each month is to have some of your paycheck direct deposited into your savings account. That way, you don’t even have a chance to spend it on anything else. Even if it is only $20 per check, it’s better than not contributing anything. After a few paychecks, it will become normal and you won’t even miss the money you are saving. Your savings account will grow automatically without you even having to touch it.
So you see, when you put a little thought into it, it’s easy to save a few bucks here and there. What you won’t realize is that all these little savings add up each month to a rapidly growing savings account with which you can feel secure.
Even though it’s still warm outside right now, the official start of autumn is this weekend. Soon the air will be cooler and it will be time to celebrate all the things that make fall so magical. Here are some ideas of fun fall activities your whole family can participate in that won’t break the bank.
Find a local apple orchard that will let you come and pick your own apples. You will be outside in the crisp fall air, and you will get to enjoy nature as you pick the perfect apples for fall baking, or even just for snacks. This proves to be a really entertaining activity for children.
Bake Fall Treats
This activity is a great follow-up to apple picking because you can use your apples to bake all sorts of fall treats. Apple pie, candy apples, applesauce–the possibilities are near endless! Outside of apples, think about what you could make with other autumn produce like pumpkins, acorn squash or sweet potatoes. The internet is saturated with mouth watering recipes for the fall. Get your kids in on the action and let them make their own treats (supervised, of course).
Visit a Pumpkin Patch
Pumpkin patches these days are packed with tons of different activities other than pumpkin picking. They have corn mazes, hayrides, kettle corn and many more activities for kids and adults alike. They are basically a fall festival happening every weekend. Find a pumpkin patch that has lots of activities and consider taking your family one weekend. If you have one close to you and want to go multiple times, see if a season pass might be more cost effective for you.
Take A Hike – Literally!
A free activity that is great for the whole family is to take a hike in a local park or forest near you. Hikes are perfect for fall because the temperature is cooler and the leaves are beautiful this time of year. You will get to enjoy the stunning nature of autumn as well as get some exercise. Take a picnic lunch and make a day out of it–you won’t regret it!
There are many other activities not listed here that are fun to do during the fall season. To find out more, just search the internet for “Fall Activities in _____” and enter your city name. You will find tons of possibilities just waiting for you to explore. Happy Fall!