The Halloween season is in full swing and there are plenty of ghouls and ghosts out there trying to trick you. Don’t let these financial demons sneak up on you!
If you don’t have a budget in place, your finances can be scary! To get a snapshot of where your hard-earned money is being spent, keep track of all your expenses for a month. In addition to obvious large expenses like your rent or mortgage and utilities, don’t forget to track every pumpkin spice latte and broomstick you buy as well as expenses that occur regularly but not every month such as semi-annual insurance premiums. Once you know where you are spending your money, organize your expenses into a budget. Using a tool like Money Manager available via Univest’s online and mobile banking allows you to create personal budgets that can be monitored and easily managed. Creating a budget will outline how your expenses measure up to your income so you can create a spending plan to ensure you are prepared to handle any financial “tricks” that may come your way.
Perhaps one of the biggest financial challenges facing consumers today is the effective management of their debt. School loans and credit card debt haunt many American families. Shouldering too much debt isn’t only hard on your psyche, it also hurts your credit score. Adjust your budget to account for paying off your balances as soon as possible. Be mindful of the interest rates and repayment terms for each of your debts. Setting up automatic payments through online bill pay can help ensure you never miss a payment. If possible, make additional principal payments starting with the debt with the highest interest rate. Consider setting up automatic payments every other week rather than once a month.
Virtual crooks are always on the prowl. To avoid the terror of having your identity stolen, ensure your computer is protected with anti-virus software, use strong passwords and change them regularly, shred sensitive documents and protect your personal information. You should also monitor your credit report and keep a close eye on your balances through online or mobile banking which allows you to set up alerts regarding card activity, block transactions and lock your card. If you notice any suspicious transactions, notify your bank immediately.
Accidents, injuries and illnesses can all catch you off guard and result in costly bills. But if you are prepared with an emergency fund, these sudden expenses aren’t so scary. You should aim to have three to six months of living expenses saved. Saving that much can be daunting! Setting up automatic savings is an easy and effective way to build your emergency fund. Every month or every pay period, have your bank transfer a fixed amount from your checking account to a savings account and watch your savings grow.
Nonexistent Retirement Savings
There are many unknown variables when planning for retirement which makes many people feel overwhelmed. However, it is important to start saving as soon as possible. If there is a retirement savings plan sponsored by your employer, make sure you optimize that plan. If you can’t contribute the maximum to your 401(k), try increasing the amount you save each year. Many employers offer to match your contribution, so at the very least, save the amount your employer will match. If you don’t have a retirement plan with your employer, make sure you contribute to an IRA (Individual Retirement Account). The common suggestion is to allocate 10% of your monthly income toward retirement savings.
Don’t Get Tricked!
These are some scary financial situations, but there are things you can do today to defend against these threats. Let Univest help you enjoy all the treats and none of the tricks. To learn more about the financial solutions offered by Univest, call 877-723-5571 or visit www.univest.net. Happy Halloween!
Univest Bank and Trust Co. is Member FDIC
These articles and reports are for general information purposes only and are not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting or financial advice. The information in these articles or reports, and any opinions expressed therein, do not constitute a recommendation or an offer to buy or sell any security or financial instrument. Viewers should consult with their financial and/or legal professionals before making any financial decisions.
Girard is a marketing name used by Univest Financial Corporation to provide (1) investment and wealth management, fiduciary services and trust services through its subsidiary Univest Bank and Trust Co., (2) specific fiduciary and investment advisory services through Girard Advisory Services, LLC (3) securities products, insurance products and brokerage services through Girard Investment Services, LLC, a registered broker-dealer and member of FINRA and SIPC, and a licensed insurance agency, and (4) investment management and related products and services for Pennsylvania municipal entities through Girard Pension Services, LLC. Investment products and services are not FDIC insured, not a bank deposit, not bank guaranteed, not insured by any federal government agency and are subject to risks, including possible loss of any principal amount invested.