Financial Tips for the New Year
All the hustling and bustling, gift giving, mistletoe-ing, fruitcake eating, and resolution making has come to an end – for a few months at least. Even though the festivities have come to a close, if you’re like most people the holidays may still be sticking around in the form of debt.
Not to worry, we’re here with a few tips for the new year that can help you get back on track.
Keep a budget
If you haven’t kept a budget in the past, now is a great time to start. Budgeting is how you track your expenses and set limits on spending, helping you identify areas that you might be able to cut back and save. This gives you the foundation to dig yourself out of any financials holes you find yourself in.
For tips on how to start budgeting, we have a great article with a FREE BUDGET TEMPLATE right here.
Make a plan for handling debt
You’re not alone if the holidays left you with some debt. According to a survey by U.S. News, 42% of people surveyed planned on going into debt to cover holiday expenses. Another survey showed that 66% of holiday travelers planned on using a credit card to cover travel expenses. While using debt to pay for some things may not be a problem, the high adjustable rates on that debt could be down the road. Paying down your balances as quickly as possible will save on interest and free you up to start saving more even sooner.
If you’re wondering how to pay off debt faster, here are some tips for making 2023 the year of tackling debt:
- Pay more than the minimum - No one wants to end up paying on a credit card for the next 5+ years. The best thing to do is ignore that minimum payment requirement and put more toward the balance. You’ll avoid making interest payments for a longer period – saving you a lot of money.
- Snowball Method – If you have multiple debts, the snowball method is one of the best ways to pay them off faster. First, you’ll make a list of all your debts from smallest to largest. Then you’ll pay as much as possible on the smallest debt while making just the minimum payment on the rest. When you have the smallest debt paid off, you’ll put all of that payment toward the next one on the list. You keep doing this until eventually you are paying off the highest balance account. This method is very rewarding as you knock out all those debts, and it helps you pay those debts off faster, saving you money.
- Avalanche method – This method is similar to the snowball method but focuses on higher-interest instead. The idea is to pay off the highest interest account first and then apply that payment to the next highest interest account, continuing until you have all your debt paid off. While this method may save you more money since it takes out the higher interest accounts first, it could be harder to keep to the plan with less progress seen early on. However, if you have high rates on a certain account, it could be the best plan.
- Consolidate debt – If you want to simply get rid of the high adjustable rates and you’re not worried about paying the debt over time, you could consider consolidating all your debt into one payment with a fixed rate. This doesn’t eliminate the debt, and may not work faster, but it does keep you from paying higher interest and simplifies the process – you may even end up with a lower monthly payment. This could be done through a personal debt consolidation loan or, if you own your home, it could be done through a home equity loan. This uses the value you have in your house to pay off the other debts and wraps the payment into your mortgage.
Learn more about our home equity options and get started with a Southern Bank Lender here.
- Transfer the debt – Another way to help you pay down debt would be to take advantage of credit cards that allow balance transfers at 0% for an initial period. This would give you the chance to pay down the debt without accruing interest for a while.
Check out Southern Bank Credit Cards here to get started.
If you’ve watched the news at all, you may be aware that some tough economic times could be ahead. The last thing any of us would want is to head into it without something saved up. If you don’t have any savings, it’s a good idea to start now – even if it’s small. Whatever you have left over at the end of each month can be moved over to a savings account. If you aren’t sure, then getting a budget together and making a plan will help.
At Southern Bank we have an account that can help you start saving without even thinking about it. Keeps Spending + Keeps Savings account is a combination spending and savings account that rounds up every transaction on your debit card to the nearest dollar, and deposits that change into your Keeps Savings account. So, your savings will build over time as you spend. You can also check out more savings account options from Southern Bank here.
Facing the financial hurdles of 2023 and getting rid of that holiday debt may require some cutting back. It may not always be easy, but a small sacrifice each month could make a big difference down the road, and you’ll be really glad you did. In fact, keeping a budget, handling debt, and saving up may all involve this last tip of cutting costs. But how can you do that? Here are few ideas for cutting costs this year:
- Limit your monthly subscriptions or share them - We all love our streaming services and music, but one great way to cut costs each month is to see which ones we truly use the most and limit our expenses to those. You could also talk with family about sharing these services to cut costs since most streaming services let you have multiple users.
- Brew that mug at home - Hear us out on this one. We’re not saying you shouldn’t visit your favorite coffee spot at all, just maybe limiting your visits. How big of a difference can brewing your own coffee at home make? According to businessinsider.com it could mean the difference between spending $240 to $1200 a year at a coffee shop vs only $45 a year brewing at home! All that in savings could make a big difference.
- Make your own meals - We all love eating out but taking the time to cook at home is a great way to lower monthly costs. How much? Most estimates from studies done across the board showed around $1,000 a year saved. Not only that, you’d probably be healthier as well.
- Carpool - If you work in an office and have a coworker who lives near you, this is a great way to bring the monthly cost of gas down. Plus, you might even make a friend.
- Adjust the thermostat - A great way to lower your energy bills is to turn the thermostat up a little in the summer and down a few degrees in the winter. You don’t have to make it sweating hot or freezing cold. According to reliant.com, just setting your thermostat back 7 to 10 degrees for only 8 hours a day could save you 10% a year on your heating and cooling expenses.
If you follow these tips, you’ll be well on your way to a solid financial future and remember that if you need help with anything bank related, we’re here to help.