Starting on the Road to Financial Security

CarAsk ten people what it means to be financially stable, and you’ll likely receive ten completely different answers. But whatever your personal definition of financial stability might be, the most important thing is making it a reality.

Reaching a point of financial security is a process that takes time, effort and yes, a little sacrificing. The results are worth it though, and starting early can give you a huge leg up down the line.  To get you started, here are 11 good financial habits that can help put you on the road to financial security.

1. Be organized. Keep your financial records together and figure out an organizational system that works best for you.

2. Use direct deposit for your paychecks. Direct deposit is a faster, safer way to have your paychecks delivered to you that a printed check. Plus, you can elect to have a portion of your check deposited into a savings account, which is a great way to ensure that you’re always saving!

3. Start saving for retirement. If your employer offers a retirement plan, contribute as much as you’re able. Remember that retirement savings deductions are taken pre-tax. If your employer doesn’t offer retirement options, consider starting an IRA for yourself.

4. Set up an automatic savings program. Commit to having a set amount of money transferred to your savings account each week, even if you can only save a small amount. Every dollar makes a difference!

5. Do a monthly budget. Take a good look at your income and monthly expenses. Write down the monthly expenses that you have: rent, student loan payments, bills, etc. Once those expenses are taken out, figure out how much you can afford to save, and how much you’re going to allow yourself for miscellaneous expenses. Discipline yourself to stay within your budget, especially when it comes to entertainment and leisure expenses.

6. Create a personal balance sheet. A balance sheet helps you calculate your net worth—the difference between your assets and your liabilities. It’s a good practice to update your balance sheet at least a few times a year so that you always have an accurate idea of where you are financially.

7. Use credit cards wisely. Credit card debt can add up quickly and can put you in a tough financial spot. While it’s tempting to be able to buy things today and not worrying about paying until tomorrow, remember that “tomorrow” will inevitably come and you’ll need to pay your balance. A good practice is to make sure that you can always pay your balance off in full each month, that way you’ll never get hit with high interest rates. If you think you’re likely to carry a balance month-to-month, be sure to shop for a card with a good interest rate.

8. Make credit card payments promptly and pay more than the minimum. If you find that you are carrying over a balance on a credit card, make every effort to pay more than the minimum—not doing so can lead to trouble for your credit score, and can increase your monthly payments in the long run.

9. Reconcile your checking account monthly. Keeping a close and careful record of your transactions will help you to ensure that you always have enough funds in your bank account and avoid overdraft fees.

10. Review all your bills and statements as soon as you receive them. You should make a point to look at your bills and statements as soon as they’re available to check for any discrepancies and see if any action is needed.

11. Get smart! Take every opportunity to boost your financial literacy—check out financial columns and blogs for the latest advice, and don’t hesitate to talk to your banker or financial advisor if you have questions.

 

 

 

Financial Education Blog Series: Young Adults

They are the generation that came of age in a time of economic uncertainty: young adults, between ages 18 and 25, dubbed “millennials” by the media.

For them, student loan debt, underemployment, the rising cost of living and the never-ending pressure of consumer culture have shaped their financial experience thus far and will likely have a far-reaching impact on their financial futures. And while information is more accessible than ever before, studies are mixed on just how much of it millennials are digesting when it comes to financial literacy.

Over the next 12 weeks, the Community Bank blog will take a look at financial issues facing today’s young people, from establishing credit to buying a first car. We’ll provide some tips and strategies for saving, investing and planning for the financial future. Whether you’re starting your first 401k or just saving your pennies for a rainy day, we’ll help improve your financial-know how!

What’s your financial IQ? According to a recent FINRA study, only 24% of millennials were able to answer four or five questions correctly on this Financial Literacy Quiz. See how you measure up!

Getting Down to Your Own Business

Starting a businessThinking about starting your own business? You’d be in good company. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), there are “23 million small businesses in the U.S., which account for 54% of all U.S. sales.” What’s more, at a time when big companies are downsizing, small businesses are growing, growing, growing. Continue reading

Business: Learn (and Earn) Through Customer Analytics

Learn through customer analyticsWhat are the most heavily trafficked pages of your website? Can you predict what items are going to be flying off your store shelves this season? With the help of analytical tools and techniques your business can leverage insights from your customers’ behavior and historical preferences to make better decisions and become more profitable. Continue reading

Business: Internships and Apprenticeships

Office internIs your company looking to acquire new staff? Or maybe mulling the possibility of taking on additional hires in the future? Depending upon your industry and your organization’s needs, an internship or apprenticeship program could be a great way to procure and nurture top talent for the betterment of your business.

Internships

With an internship program, individuals hoping to garner “real world” experience and learn more about a business or industry take on a paid or unpaid position for a period of about 3 – 4 months.

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Sweepstakes, contests & promotions — Beware the laws, rules & regulations!

Contest WinnersSweepstakes, contests and lotteries. What’s the difference?

• Sweepstakes – Also referred to as “giveaways,” where winners are selected in a random drawing.

• Contest – Winner(s) are selected according to established criteria.

• Lottery – A prize drawing for which you have to pay money (or some other consideration) to have a chance to win.

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Savings Tips: Defraying College Costs

Saving for collegePerhaps the single most daunting aspect of college is the enormous financial obligation that comes with it. For parents, sending a child off to college can mean stretching family finances further than ever before. For students, college likely means taking the first real steps into managing their own finances. Here are some tips to help students and families manage college costs:

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