What’s the American dream look like to you? For many, it means achieving financial security and freedom for themselves and their family, according to one survey last year from Massachusetts Mutual Life.
The road to financial security and freedom can be a long one – involving many prudent, money-related decisions and monitoring. Unfortunately about a third of survey respondents seemed unsure how to get to this destination; 33 percent said they think that dream is disappearing.
How can you get control of your money, know how much you are spending and identify opportunities to save? Here are some easy ways to start…
Track what goes out
What are the top three areas you spend money on every month? What percentage of your total monthly spending do those areas take up? If you can’t answer these questions, then it may be time to step up how you track your spending.
If you’re smart-phone savvy, then consider monitoring your spending a little more closely. Our mobile banking app, includes the ability to set up alerts when transfers or spending occurs. It also means you can check your balances on the go, so you’ll stay more informed about how much you’re spending and on what.
Create a monthly budget
A well-constructed monthly budget can serve as a valuable roadmap to financial freedom. While documenting how much you should spend in various areas – versus how much you actually spend – can sound daunting, there are a few techniques and tools that can help.
Start by setting some time aside to dedicate to your finances. For some people, that might be five minutes every evening, for others, an hour once a week. Regardless of your approach, faithfully using that time allows you to take stock of your progress and identify areas you might be going astray.
To make things even easier, think about using a budgeting program, like MoneySync, a web and app-based budgeting tool. It allows you to track spending across all your accounts – including those with other banks, credit unions or loan providers. You can quickly assign a category every time you spend – like food, education or entertainment – and create custom debt scenarios, so you can easily see which credit card or loan makes sense to tackle first. The best part – MoneySync is free to use.
Stop paying for things you don't need
How much are you spending on things you could get for free, or at least cheaper? This includes too-expensive cable bills (streaming services can be much less), gym memberships or financial services.
When it comes to your banking, are you paying for things like bill pay or money transfers to friends or family? What about when you use an ATM?
With Basic Checking – our free account – these services are available at no extra cost. Use the Person2Person payment tool to pay a friend back with just a text or email; set up automatic payments for your utility bill using bill pay; and pay no fee for access to over 32,000 MoneyPass ATMs across the country.
Need a little help?
If you want to start 2019 with a fresh approach to your finances, then we're to help. Find out why Basic Checking has earned us the Best Bank award by Money Magazine.
*Basic Checking requires $25, eStatement registration and a direct deposit to open.