My name is Tanya Verzoni, Director of Financial Education at New Dimensions Federal Credit Union. It is our mission to help our members, folks just like you, realize their financial goals. Whether it is to get out of debt, improve your credit score, buy a vehicle or home, we are here to provide you with the education, tools, and services to achieve your goals effectively. Each month, you can count on this column to feature financial tips and best practices that will help you along your journey towards reaching your goals.
Many people begin a new year with a resolution to improve their financial wellness, which is a great goal, but where do you begin? It can seem very overwhelming when you start out especially when piles of bills are due (some past due), there are no emergency savings, you need a new vehicle, and oh, the roof is beginning to leak, too. Unfortunately, in some cases, your credit may not be that great. This is all very stressful and reminds me of an old commercial for a bath and beauty product, “Calgon, take me away!” Sadly, that product can’t magically fix your finances, but there is hope; you just need to take it one step at a time and start with the basics.
First, start with an honest household budget. When I teach classes at local schools and businesses or counsel members in my office, a clear, concise budget is where we always begin. A budget must clearly define all sources of income and ALL expenses! Yes…ALL OF THEM! If you spend money on it, it’s considered an expense. I also encourage people to “PAY THEMSELVES FIRST.” This simply means after you have accounted for your needs (housing, utilities, food, medications, car payment, insurances, oil, etc.) you determine a specific amount that will be added to your savings account. Then, you are free to spend what is left over on your wants or earmark money for other financial goals like eliminating credit card debt.
It’s also a good time of year to review your credit report if you haven’t done so in a while. You’re entitled to one free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com, the only authorized website for free credit reports, or call 1-877-322-8228. This will ensure that all the information contained in your credit report is accurate! Keeping an eye on your credit report is a good tool for detecting identity theft.
If you would like more financial wellness tips, I invite you to visit my blog, “Tanya’s Tips” on our website at www.newdimensionsfcu.com. There are many other financial education tools that you can explore while you are visiting our site!