Most of us agree that the health and wellness of our family is our highest priority. Next on most people’s minds is usually their finances. Here are a few financial rules to try and live by – or at least consider – that will help keep you and your family financially healthy.
1. Track spending to know where your money goes. Identify expenses that can be reduced or eliminated—and take immediate action. A budget helps and we have developed an easy-to-use, expert online tool to make quick work of this. Give it a try here.
2. Expect and prepare for emergencies. Aim for six months’ worth of expenses set aside in an account with easy access to funds. If this is too ambitious, start to put aside small sums regularly and bit by bit grow your fund. The Credit Union can help with many high-interest savings accounts to make your money work harder. We can also help you set up automatic deductions. Learn more here.
3. If housing costs are too high, consider downsizing, renting or home sharing with friends or family members.
4. Communicate about family finances regularly with your spouse or partner, and any of your children you feel are old enough to be involved.
5. Do not try to “keep up with the Joneses (or the Kardashians).”
6. Explore nanny share-care, babysitting co-ops, and subsidized daycare. Childcare is the single largest expense for most working parents, so investigate all reasonable options.
7. Explore whether you would be financially better off if one parent were to be a “stay at home” or a “work from home” parent. Employers in office-based jobs are more willing these days to consider remote working requests, at least for part of the week.
8. Unless you have endless funds, accept that you can’t buy everything you want for your child. This is often harder than it sounds.
9. Remember that you are the single greatest role model in your child’s financial education. They will remember everything, from arguments about money to how you deal with debt. Teach them good habits now.
10. Pay for unreimbursed medical expenses and dependent care with pretax dollars using a flexible savings account. Check with your employer for availability.
11. Commit yourself to spending within your means. A line of credit should never be confused with an emergency fund or extra income.
12. Remember, you are not being “cheap” for the sake of saving a few dollars. You are being “frugal” for the wellbeing of your family over the long term, and will come out ahead by doing so.
13. Get professional assistance. You can always contact a Credit Union branch counselor for no-strings advice – they love hearing from members. Additionally, consider our free Financial Wellness Check. It’s a bit like a health checkup, but for finances and can help you save and earn more with minimal effort. There’s no commitment on your part, and we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Learn more here.
14. And because some of us think “13” is unlucky – we didn’t want to end on that number. So here’s a bonus tip. Trick yourself into saving. Our high-yield Checking Account is not a traditional “savings” account but quietly earns you an amazing 4% ― on up to a $5,000 balance. And our Round It Up savings is really sneaky. Debit Card purchases are rounded up to the nearest dollar and the difference automatically transferred to a savings account of your choice. You don’t even notice the “spare change” has gone, but soon enough it adds up to a nice wad of cash.