Top 5 Tips for Getting on Top of Your Finances

05/27/2021

Top 5 Tips for Getting on Top of Your Finances

The idea behind financial literacy is that a person shouldn’t need advanced training in economics in order to make sound, savvy money choices — for example, decisions related to insurance, investments, saving for college, tax planning and more. 

The average person encounters such decisions on some level daily, but when was the last time you quizzed yourself on your comprehension of topics related to personal finance, like budget basics, investing and general money management? 

Money-related matters can be confusing, but they don’t need to be intimidating. Through resources available online, community-education efforts and one-on-one conversations with your local United Bank team, we want to help you feel empowered to make smart financial decisions. 

To take a few steps in that direction, check out our top 5 tips for getting — and staying — on top of your finances:


Know what you’re working with

You can’t take the next step toward mastering your finances if you don’t know where you stand currently. Assessing your finances and learning what you actually have (vs. what you think or hope you have) is a critical first step in improving your personal financial situation.

The easiest place to start is to create a comprehensive budget sheet. List out all your bank accounts, credit cards, loans and assets, along with the total amount of money in or owed on each account. Don’t forget line items such as your 401(k) or student loans.

Next, list out all of your monthly expense, starting with your rent/mortgage. You don’t have to record this perfectly down to the penny, but you need to have a working knowledge of your household’s cash flow. By the end of this exercise, you should have a relatively accurate picture of your financial situation laid out in front of you: What’s coming in? What’s going out? To whom do you owe money, and how much?

Check your credit report

You are entitled to one free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three largest, best-known credit reporting companies: Equifax®, Experian® and TransUnion®. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com to get started — it’s the only government-authorized site for free credit reports.


Pay down your debt

Debt tends to sneak up on many people. We tend to get so caught up in day-to-day life that we neglect the things that will cost us in the long run. It’s important to understand your own loans’ terms, interest rates and minimum required payments so that you’re at least aware of the debt load you’re carrying.

Don’t let yourself get paralyzed by intimidation — just start chipping away at the debt, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. 

Once you have an understanding of where you are and where you want to be when it comes to your finances, United Bank is here to help. We look forward to partnering with you about how to put yourself in the best financial position, and how to gain the financial know-how you need to mindfully move forward.

Make the most of your money

Life often gets so busy that we unintentionally let an automated subscription re-up for another year, miss a payment or forget to cancel that free trial. Do yourself and your finances a favor and take just a little bit of time up front in order to save yourself money down the road. Check all your subscriptions, auto-pays and bank accounts. Are you accruing monthly fees that you didn’t know or remember existed? Are you really using that second TV-show streaming service? Can you find a checking account that earns you interest? All it takes is a little bit of organization and a willingness to ask questions to make the most of your money.


Set smart financial goals

You don’t have to know where you’ll be in 20 years in order to make a smart action plan for your money — but not having a plan for your money is definitely not a plan that works. Consciously make a list of your financial goals — both short-term and long-term.

This is your opportunity to get real with yourself. Be wary of heeding advice from others or comparing yourself to peers, because everyone is on their own financial path. Recognize that everyone has different priorities for their money. You only need to identify your priorities — maybe it’s paying off your mortgage, saving enough for one year of college or contributing to a retirement account. Whatever your goals are, remember that you don’t need to have everything figured out. You just need to get started.

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