Disclaimer: I am a Marcus by Goldman Sachs ambassador and I have received financial compensation. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
You might be surprised to learn that October is National Financial Planning Month and it’s a great reminder to take a few small steps to help improve your financial health and make better money management decisions. With the holiday season quickly approaching and all of the upcoming expenses associated with this time of year, there’s no better time than now to get your finances in order.
Whether you’re struggling to pay down debt or save money, improving your financial health doesn’t have to be complicated. These easy steps will get you back on track and into tiptop fiscal shape fast.
Rebalance your budget for the holidays.
Although your income may not have changed, the upcoming holiday traveling and gift-giving season signals a need to review and rebalance your budget to ensure you’re on track to meet short-term and long-term goals as you look towards 2018. For those who don’t have a budget, start by reviewing the last two to three months of expenses to establish a baseline. Then, look for areas where you can cut back, such as dining out, or freezing or cancelling any memberships or subscriptions you may not use.
Pay yourself first.
Everyone knows paying bills on time is crucial to effective financial management, but what about paying yourself? People who consider their savings just as important as their monthly mortgage are more effective at building savings accounts, and this is crucial for meeting both short-term and long-term goals. If you already have a tight budget, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to live on less when you’ve allocated for savings. Remember, what’s out of sight is out of mind, so pay yourself first before any other expenses and monthly spending.
Build your savings.
Although you’ll be spending throughout the holidays, establishing small budgetary changes into your day-to-day can create a habit that will help you become a great saver in the future. For those researching savings accounts, consider pairing up your traditional bank account with an online savings account, which typically offer higher interest rates compared to traditional banks. Options such as Goldman Sachs Bank USA (GS Bank) provide rates that are higher than the national average and can help you save more money, faster.¹
Carrying a revolving balance across multiple accounts can be challenging to manage. While most people think of balance transfers when they think about consolidating, there are other methods to better manage debt. For example, Marcus by Goldman Sachs® is an online platform offering fixed-rate, no-fee personal loans to consumers with good credit (credit scores 660+). This option can help consumers manage their debt better, rather than put pressure on their cash flow or promote revolving credit card debt. And Marcus.com offers a savings calculator that people can use to calculate their savings versus high interest variable credit card debt without affecting their credit score.
Establish an emergency fund.
One in four Americans claim to have more credit card debt than savings.² When it comes to finances, you should always prepare for a rainy day by setting aside money for an emergency fund. Doing so will save you additional stress and provide you with added peace of mind. Emergencies are almost always emotionally and financially jarring. This fund should be used exclusively for emergencies like family crises, medical expenses and auto repairs unlike the amount you set aside for a specific purchase. By creating this fund, you will be on the road to recovery in no time at all.
Reduce monthly expenses.
Review recurring charges—especially those that are automatically deducted from your bank account or credit card—to determine if you still need these expenses in your life. While traditional bills like utilities and mortgage payments are necessary, subscriptions to magazines or internet memberships can likely be cancelled and can result in big monthly savings. Make it a point to review these automatic charges regularly so you can catch incorrect billings in a timely manner. Also, you may want to consider options for lowering necessary expenses. Insurance policies, mobile plans and even mortgage payments in some cases can be reduced to offer some budgetary relief. For instance, comparing auto insurance policy rates can save you an average of $360 per year.³
¹The National Average is based on the APY average for high yield savings accounts with a minimum balance of at least $2,500 offered by the top 50 U.S. banks (ranked by total deposits) as reported by Informa Research Services, Inc. Calabasas, CA, Informars.com. Rates are only as accurate as the information reported to Informa by the banks.
Save for the things that matter
Without giving up the things you love
Want your family’s financial future to feel safe and secure? Download my Easy Family Budget Worksheet and take control of your family’s finances in just 10 minutes!