It's the start of a new year and a great time to reflect, evaluate, and prepare to reach your financial goals!
Manage your finances by setting simple financial goals to help you stay on budget and add financial security. Here are a few simple steps to get started:
1. Know Your Banking Fees
Check your bank statement and year-end summary of charges for unexpected or excessive fees. Compare your checking account with a low-cost USC Credit Union Checking Account and make the switch!
2. Check Your Credit
Review your credit score from all three consumer credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax). If it needs help, there are ways to improve it.
- Pay your bills on time.
- Pay down credit card balances to keep your credit usage under 30%.
- Avoid opening new credit accounts unless necessary.
- Keep existing credit accounts open, even if you don't use them.
- Dispute inaccurate credit information.
If you're a USC Credit Union online banking member, check your score under Services for free.
3. Pay Down Debt
Review your debt situation by listing each credit account's balance, interest rate, monthly payment, and repayment term. Create a plan to pay down your debt faster.
- Find out if you could save money by refinancing your mortgage, vehicle, or student loan.
- Transfer high-interest credit cards and personal loan debt to a lower-interest-rate loan or credit card.
If you're struggling to keep up with your debt, our financial credit partner, Greenpath, offers free financial counseling sessions to USC Credit Union members.
4. Prepare for Tax Time
Gather your tax documents, including last year's tax returns, receipts for applicable charitable contributions, business expenses, medical costs, child care expenses, educational expenses, and other tax-deductible transactions. If you expect a refund, research the best spending options. If you expect to owe money, plan to set aside enough money to pay the bill.
5. Review Your Retirement Accounts and Other Investments
Financial experts recommend saving 15% of your gross income toward retirement. Review your savings rate to determine whether you need to make adjustments. If you have a 401(K) plan and your employer offers a matching contribution, ensure you get the maximum match amount. Open a traditional IRA or ROTH IRA to have more control over how your money is invested. Finally, confirm that all of your accounts list the correct beneficiaries.
6. Boost Your Savings
Save for a rainy day. Evaluate and adjust your savings plan to cover three to six months of expenses or if you expect to have a significant expense, such as an upcoming medical procedure, vacation, or special event.
Create a plan to save up. If you haven't started saving, start one today, no matter how small, or big your initial deposit is. Consider a high-yield savings account, money market, or certificate account.
7. Create or Update Your Estate Plan
An estate plan may include a will, a living trust, a living will, a health care or financial power of attorney, and a plan for funeral arrangements. Ensure your estate plan lists the correct beneficiaries and that your documents are safe. If you've had significant life changes since creating your plan, update it accordingly.
To boost your financial know-how, click here to personalize a financial education playlist and put yourself on the path to financial success. Start taking steps to improve your overall financial well-being and reach your goals today.