The new year is underway, and many are thinking about their finances. From adjusting retirement investment and timelines, to figuring out how and where to pay off debt, to owning or renting, the after-effects of pandemic continue to affect many households and how they see their future.
“Establishing good financial habits, which includes creating and sticking with a budget, can be some of the most important decisions you can make to secure your family’s future, “Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Central East Texas said. “It isn’t easy, but it will be worth it.”
BBB offers the following tips to help you get on the right track to a better financial future:
Calculate your income. You can’t properly set a financial resolution unless you know how much income you have. Calculate your monthly net (after tax) income, so you can set a clear budget with exactly what you are bringing home.
Set up a budget. Once you have an idea where you are spending money, you can set up a realistic budget. There are free online tools to help you, so there is no need to spend a lot of money on budgeting software. Be cautious of scams, however, being mindful not to share personally identifying information unless you have verified the site’s legitimacy. Clearpoint Credit Counseling Solutions, a BBB Accredited Business and national partner, offers a budget calculator to help you create a budget.
Monitor your spending. Whether you prefer an app, computer software or a notebook to jot down your expenses, keeping track of which categories you are spending money (utilities, entertainment, etc.) is critical, allowing you see where you are actually spending your money rather than where you think it’s being spent.
Pay down debt. One method is to pay off the credit amount or loan with highest interest rate first (the “ladder method”). Another is to pay off the smallest balance first so you feel a greater sense of accomplishment (the “snowball method”). Use whichever method works best for you. The important thing is that you are doing it.
Be proactive with your finances. Avoid wasting money on unethical businesses or scams. When making a purchase or choosing a business, check with BBB first. Making careful decisions now can save time, money, and headaches later. Remember, great businesses are out there. Always look for the BBB seal; it’s the Sign of a Better BusinessSM . Start with companies you can trust by going to bbb.org, and check BBB Scam Tracker regularly to see what scams are happening in your area.
Build and emergency fund. Ideally, an emergency fund can cover things like car or home repair, unexpected medical expenses, or lay-offs. Financial experts suggest an emergency fund of three to six months living expenses..
Keep track of your credit score. Credit scores are used by lenders to make decisions about whether or not to offer you credit and what those terms (interest or down payment) will be. Your credit score is a decision-making tool that lenders use to help them anticipate how likely you are to repay your loan on time. Landlords also use your credit score in their decision making.
For more information
See BBB’s New year’s guide for more about how to start this year off on the right foot. To learn more about scams, go to BBB.org/ScamTips. For more about avoiding scams, check out BBB.org/AvoidScams. If you’ve been targeted by this scam, help others avoid the same problem by reporting your experience at BBB.org/ScamTracker.. Stay up on the latest scams by subscribing to BBB Scam Alerts emails.