Fitness center memberships traditionally skyrocket in January. Everyone wants to start the year with a new regimen and goal to get physically fit in the new year. But what about your financial fitness? Is your credit card balance looking bloated? Is your savings account unhealthy? Do you make money decisions that you know aren’t good for you? Here are 6 things you can do to get your financial health in order while you’re getting physically fit:
- Create a budget. This is the most obvious, but also the hardest. No one likes to take a close look at where their money is going and find ways to save more, but this is the most important thing you can do. Itemize every expense, see where you might be spending where you no longer need to, and set a goal to put aside at least 10% of each paycheck to savings .
- Pay off credit cards. Make a list of all the credit cards you owe money to and start paying them off one by one. Start with the card with the highest interest rate, making high lump sum payments. Once one card is paid off, move on to the next one until all cards are paid off.
- Sell stuff you don’t need. Everyone has things that are just creating clutter but might be of value to someone else. With all the selling apps these days (eBay, Craigslist, Letgo) it’s easy to sell items you no longer need and make a little money too.
- Invest for your retirement. A recent study from the Economic Policy Institute found that only half of American families have any retirement savings. If your company offers a 401k plan, consider taking advantage of it and begin investing if you haven’t already. And if you don't have access to a 401k, start an IRA savings account. According to Business Insider, if an investor started saving $300 per month at age 25, by the time she retires at 65 she would have put $144,000 into her account and will have a balance of about $460,000, assuming a 5% annual rate of return.
- Get a checking account that earns interest. Depending on your balance, you can get a checking account that earns competitive interest rates with minimum balance requirements. And if you purchase a Certificate of Deposit through your bank, your rate can get more aggressive the higher the checking account balance you keep. Check with your bank to determine which account is best for you.
- Avoid paying ATM fees. 75% of consumer checking accounts are charged fees when money is accessed outside of their banking network, according to data published by Bankrate.com. Instead of using your debit card to get cash from an ATM, try making more purchases digitally with your phone, using Apple Pay®, Google Pay™ or Samsung Pay®. You can attach your debit card account to the desired app and never have to get your wallet out.
So, before you sign up for CycleBar classes this January, make sure and apply some of these tips to get your finances in shape too. For more information on how you can put your money to work better, contact the experts at NASB at 800-677-6272 or click here .