January 16, 2024
It’s the start of the new year and, with it, new personal and professional goals. For many, starting the new year off right means taking a good, hard look at your personal and professional life and determining what areas could improve. With crazy-busy schedules, nagging social pressures, and the daily news dragging us down, many are looking for simple ways to reduce stress and improve our overall health and wellness.
According to a 2023 article from the American Psychological Association, finances (63%) was reported as being a top significant source of stress in the lives of adults living in the U.S. Daily financial stress can lead to headaches, upset stomach, nervousness, and poor sleep while long-term effects are linked to several health problems including depression, anxiety, heart disease, weight gain, and stroke. *
Getting physically fit requires lifestyle changes to help you reach your health and wellness goals. These include physical exercise, a nutritious, well-balanced diet, enough rest, and good hydration. Getting fiscally fit is no different.
Here are four changes you can make to help you reduce financial stress and improve your overall health and wellness in 2024:
It’s important to know where your money is going. Using our budgeting tools in DIGITAL BANKING+ is a great place to start. You can use our Smart Transaction Tagging to label and categorize expenses. Transaction tags will help you identify spending patterns and find opportunities to reduce excess spending. Pay your bills monthly to avoid late fees, loss of possessions, or an eviction. Try to stretch your bills out evenly over the month so you pay around the same amount each week. Once you know where your money is going, use our simple budget worksheet to start building a monthly budget.
BUILD AN EMERGENCY FUND
With just $100, you can open a First United Foundation Savings Account to start some good savings habits – and gain some interest! The easiest way to build up your savings is to set up automatic, recurring savings transfers at the beginning of each month. Most experts suggest you should have enough money to cover three to six months’ worth of essentials (mortgage, car payment, bills, groceries) in savings should an unexpected financial emergency arise. It’s also a good idea to set aside money for larger expenses you know are coming, such as car repairs or appliances.
REDUCE OR ELIMINATE DEBT
Debt is the elephant in just about everyone’s room. Almost everyone has financial debt, whether it be student loans, medical bills, or credit cards. Over time, this can take a substantial toll on your cost of living. But do not worry; debt reduction and elimination are possible. Most experts suggest using either the snowball method (for those of you who like to check the small to-dos off the list first) or the avalanche method (for those of you who prefer to jump in headfirst). Either method will prove effective with time and commitment. Consider opening a GOALS account in DIGITAL BANKING+, where you can set aside part of your paycheck to pay off debt. These accounts will help you resist spending money on other unnecessary expenses. GOALS accounts are linked to your personal checking account and do not require opening a separate savings account. Think of it as a savings bucket designed to help you reach your savings goals.
PLAN FOR RETIREMENT & OTHER LONG-TERM GOALS
You might be asking yourself, “Will I ever be able to retire?” Excellent question with a simple answer – yes. If you are committed to managing your fiscal wellness. Like a healthy diet, the small decisions you make each day will lead to successful long-term results. Consider setting up a 401(k), an employer-sponsored retirement savings plan. It allows you to save a part of your monthly paycheck before taxes are taken out. If your company doesn’t offer a 401(k), or if you’re maxing out your 401(k) and want to continue saving, check out an IRA. You can contribute a maximum amount each year, and you decide how much you wish to invest. Saving for retirement is one of the most challenging and essential financial goals you will face. Remember, it’s never too early to start saving for retirement.
No matter what goals you’ve set for yourself for 2024, we hope you’ll consider taking a few of these steps to improve your fiscal well-being. From all of us at First United Bank, have a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2024! Happy New Year!
*2023 article from verywellmind.com