Monday, 9 Feb 2009

Ten Tips for Better Money Management

I love credit unions and have been a member of a number over the years, starting when I was a teenager.  In addition to personalized service, credit unions often have better loan rates.  My very first car loan (when I was fresh out of school) was from a credit union.  That said, here are some tips from the National Association of Federal Credit Unions (www.nafcu.org) to help get your finances in shape.

  1. Create a budget – Know how much money you bring home and how much you spend. If you are unfamiliar with how to create a budget, many credit unions offer free financial literacy classes.
  2. Vow to spend less than you make – Nothing makes more sense than living within your means. If you are constantly overspending, you will never have enough money to save or invest.
  3. Watch every penny – Dropping unnecessary services and avoiding ATM fees are just a few of the ways you can find some extra savings. Many credit unions offer free access to thousands of ATMs through participating networks.
  4. Review your credit record/financial statements regularly – Request a free copy of your credit report once a year at www.annualcreditreport.com. Scrutinize your financial/credit card statements regularly to ensure that identity thieves are not running up charges in your name. Report any questionable charges immediately.
  5. Reduce your debt – Assess your outstanding debt and make a plan to reduce your balances. You might also consider consolidating your debt. With consistent payments above the minimum, you can reduce your debt significantly.
  6. Plan ahead – In everything from vacations to holiday shopping, it pays to plan ahead. How about starting a vacation or holiday account to fund those big purchases? At many credit unions, you can open an account with as little as $5.
  7. Start an emergency fund – Unexpected events like an illness and an auto or appliance repair often require big money. Most financial advisors recommend saving three-six months’ expenses to fund these items.
  8. Make your money work for you – Credit unions offer competitive rates and great service in a broad range of products including savings and checking accounts. Many credit unions also offer online services. Go to www.culookup.com to find a credit union you may be eligible to join.
  9. Use credit cards smartly – Get a credit card with a low annual fee or with rewards that suit your interests and remember to pay your bills on time. Consumer Reports recently found that credit unions offer some of the best credit card rates. For example, credit cards and all loans issued by federal credit unions cannot exceed 18 percent. In fact, the average interest rate was about 11 percent on credit cards from federal credit unions in December.
  10. Protect your family and your assets – Make sure you have enough insurance coverage for your property as well as yourself and your family. Make a will if you don’t already have one. Shred financial documents and/or credit card offers before throwing them out to avoid revealing personal information unnecessarily.

Are you a member of a credit union?  If not, I would suggest looking into it.


3 Responses to “Ten Tips for Better Money Management”

  1. Ann Says:

    Hi Ms. Savvy,
    Just wanted to let you know that there are much better Web sites for finding credit unions than the one provided by NAFCU. You see, NAFCU only list its member credit unions on its site — and that’s only about 800 out of 8,300 total U.S. credit unions.
    Some better options for finding a credit union are:
    http://www.creditunion.coop/ – click on “Locate a Credit Union” or http://ncua.gov/indexdata.html
    Both of these sites list all credit unions, plus the first site I mentioned also has links to help you choose the best credit union to meet your needs.

  2. Alan Says:

    I love credit unions! I just made the switch to a different credit union where I don’t have to pay any monthly fees for my chequing or savings account. I do have to pay if I use out of network ATMs, but there are so many credit union ATMs around I hardly ever (just one or twice so far) have had to.

    And I get unlimited transactions, something no bank has done for me before.

    I second the push to get people into credit unions and out of banks. It just makes sense!

  3. Hae Kame Says:

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