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Keeping your finances fresh throughout the year

Tips that you can put in place to help keep your finances in check throughout the year.

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Photo by Damir Spanic from Unsplash.com

For many people, reaching and maintaining financial stability is a goal that tops their checklists. However, the strategies necessary for achieving that goal can quickly fall by the wayside.

Consider these tips from Bank of America Credit Cards Executive Jason Gaughan that you can put in place to help keep your finances in check throughout the year.

Make Financial Goals More Attainable

The key to achieving financial goals is to make them measurable. Try to focus on achievable outcomes that slowly push you in the right direction financially. For example, if you are planning to make a large purchase, give yourself a specific, short-term goal like saving a few hundreds/thousands from a paycheck so you can effectively measure your progress and build toward your purchase over time.

Redeeming your credit card rewards wisely can also help you more seamlessly reach your financial goals. Some cards allow you to redeem cash rewards directly into a checking or savings account or to apply to your credit card balance. In some cases, rewards can also be applied into longer-term investments, thereby letting your everyday spending help fuel your future goals.

“Earning cash back on everyday purchases can provide extra funds to invest, splurge on a family vacation or put a down payment on a new car,” Gaughan said. “Whatever your financial goals are, a rewards card can help you get closer to achieving them.”

Reduce the Number of Credit Cards in Your Wallet

A Bank of America survey found 52% of people weigh down their wallets with multiple cards to earn rewards across different categories. By choosing a flexible credit card that allows you to earn benefits across various categories, you can consolidate and eliminate the need to juggle a variety of rewards cards.

Cut Unnecessary Spending and Tackle Debts

If you’re dreaming of financial freedom, a budget is one of the first steps toward getting there. Start by reviewing bank and credit card statements from at least the past three months to gain a better understanding of your spending habits and identify areas you could improve. While cutting back on non-essentials is typically a good place to start, this is also an opportunity to identify areas you can get better deals by switching providers for things like car or homeowner’s insurance as well as your cellphone, internet and other home services.

Once you’ve addressed your expenses, consider tackling your debts. To determine which debts need to be prioritized, look at the interest rates and principal costs of each and focus on paying off debts with higher interest rates first. Reducing your debt should take priority over most savings goals.

Discover New Ways to be Rewarded

You may be eligible to enroll in a banking rewards program which gives members access to a variety of everyday banking benefits including credit card rewards bonuses on eligible cards from 25-75%, home and auto loan discounts, free stock trades, ATM fee waivers and more.

Layering your banking rewards program together with airline, hotel, credit card, dining and shopping rewards programs can help boost your financial rewards earnings to the highest level.

Use Digital Banking Tools to Gain Full Visibility Into Your Finances

When using a combination of multiple rewards and savings strategies, it can be hard to keep track of where and how much you’re earning and saving at a given time.

Your bank may offer digital tools that provide assistance and resources to simplify your banking experience. For example, some digital dashboards allow cardholders to track their rewards earnings and redemptions, and discover additional benefits. Those using their bank’s application on their computer or phone can typically manage their rewards, deals and benefits across multiple rewards programs.

Keep Tabs on Your Credit Reports and Scores

A numeric representation of your credit, your credit score signifies to lenders what kind of borrower you are. Because it influences everything from mortgage and auto loan rates to credit card approvals, keeping an eye on where you stand can be important in achieving your financial goals. It’s smart to periodically check your credit score to make sure everything is accurate and know where you stand. You can check your score through the major credit bureaus, and some credit card issuers even allow you to view your score for free through online or mobile banking.

The key to keeping your finances fresh is to create a simple strategy that allows you to push toward your financial goals all year long. By consolidating your wallet, creating realistic goals and budgeting, you can set yourself up for financial success.

Earn Rewards Where You Spend Most

“Regardless of whether your spending priorities change frequently or remain steady, you should consider a flexible card that allows you to earn cash back across multiple categories that align with your spending patterns,” Gaughan said.

Find more solutions at BankofAmerica.com.

Strategies

Save money and score energy savings

Small changes around the workplace now can deliver big energy savings particularly during colder months ahead.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected the profits of businesses; and yet expenses may remain the same – e.g. energy consumption – so that companies need to reconsider their approaches until things normalize.

Here, Georgia Power is reminding customers that small changes around the workplace now can deliver big energy savings particularly during colder months ahead.

  • Let the Sun Shine In – Keeping the blinds and shades open during the day is a no-cost way to naturally heat your workplace. Close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.
  • Let it Flow – Heating and cooling accounts for as much as 50% of a venue’s typical energy usage during colder seasons. Maximize the efficiency of your units ahead of cold weather by changing the filters once a month, or every three months for pleated filters.
  • Thinking Thermostats – Install a smart programmable thermostat that automatically adjusts the workplace’s temperature settings when you are away from the venue and save in energy costs.
  • Caulk & Strip – Replace cracked or peeling caulk or weather stripping around doors and windows to save up to 10% on energy use
  • It’s Great to Insulate – Keep heat where it belongs with proper insulation in attics and walls to help save energy 24/7.

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Strategies

Financial tips to help prepare for the unexpected

Over the past year, most people have noticed how truly unpredictable life can be. While it’s impossible to predict what the next few months have in store, practicing a few fundamental financial skills can help you prepare for whatever comes next.

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Photo by Damir Spanic from Unsplash.com

Over the past year, most people have noticed how truly unpredictable life can be. While it’s impossible to predict what the next few months have in store, practicing a few fundamental financial skills can help you prepare for whatever comes next.

“According to a survey by Bank of America, 42% of (people) say their top financial goal over the next three months is to increase their savings,” said April Schneider, head of consumer and small business products at Bank of America. “The pandemic has highlighted the importance of building a safety net. Whether you’re looking to improve your current financial habits or starting from scratch, the most important thing is to make a plan that fits your needs and to stick with it.”

Consider these tips from Schneider:

Track your expenses. Review your expenses, big and small, and separate them into categories like groceries, transportation, utilities and entertainment. Then total the amounts in each category to get a better picture of your monthly expenses. Knowing how much you spend each month is the first step toward finding money to save.

Make a plan and set a budget. Categorize your expenses into wants versus needs. Groceries, rent and mortgage payments are examples of needs while streaming services are a want. Compare your expenses against your total household income to figure out if you have money left over to save or if you can find money to save by reducing your spending on nonessentials. For example, keep an eye out for phantom charges – or reoccurring payments – you may no longer need and redirect that money into savings.

“If you’re already saving, that’s great,” Schneider said. “Review your behaviors and see if there’s room for improvement. It’s also not too late if you haven’t begun saving – everyone has to start somewhere.”

Also keep in mind your budget is meant to adapt with your circumstances, so make sure you’re updating your budget as your life changes.

Make savings automatic. Saving can fit seamlessly into your everyday life when you set up automatic transfers from a checking to a savings account. Saving automatically helps prepare you for the future without adding to your to-do list. You can start small by automatically transferring a few dollars each week.

Build an emergency fund. Take a look at your current expenses versus total income to identify any extra wiggle room where you can save. Next put your emergency savings in a separate, but accessible, account to avoid temptation and accidental overspending.

“When building an emergency fund, I recommend saving enough money to cover 3-6 months of expenses,” Schneider said. “Contributing to an emergency fund keeps saving a priority and ensures you have financial flexibility should the unexpected occur.”

Use spending tools for savvy savings. Being a better saver means becoming a smarter spender. While looking for deals and price shopping can be helpful, there are times when it’s better to spend a little more for quality. For example, buying a more costly refrigerator may pay off in the long run compared to buying a cheaper option that could break down after a few months.

Another way to be a smarter spender is by earning rewards on your everyday purchases. Whether you’ve seen your costs shift from in-person to delivery services, using a card that adapts and rewards your spending can be a valuable asset.

While you may not know what the future holds, planning and actively taking steps can help you feel more secure and prepared for whatever it brings.

Find more tips at bettermoneyhabits.com.

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Strategies

5 Ways to save big on everyday essentials

People are concerned about the economic impact the pandemic will have on their lives. These economic concerns are leading shoppers to seek out more ways to save. With the convenience and flexibility online shopping provides, many customers are turning to e-retailers to find those must-have items.

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With many people spending more time at home, they are also using more common household items such as cleaning supplies, pantry items and snacks, among other things.

According to a Harris Poll survey, people are concerned about the economic impact the pandemic will have on their lives. These economic concerns are leading shoppers to seek out more ways to save. With the convenience and flexibility online shopping provides, many customers are turning to e-retailers to find those must-have items.

To help busy and budget-conscious shoppers, Woot!, the Amazon-owned daily deals site, launched a grocery and household category to offer deals on everyday essentials.

Consider these five ways shoppers can save time and money when making household purchases.

1. Compare prices.

One benefit of shopping online versus in-store is you can look across different brands to compare prices in real time. By seeing available brands and pricing in one place, you can save more and make the best purchase choices for your household.  

2. Take advantage of deals.

When you shop in a store, you’re confined to the deals and selection the store is offering at the time of your trip. When you shop online, you aren’t limited to the store’s offerings, often allowing you to score better deals and browse a larger selection.

3. Save time exploring virtual aisles.

Shopping at a store can be time consuming. Consider virtual grocery and household shopping, and unlike in-person aisles, virtual aisles hide categories when selection is unavailable so you won’t waste your time and can be confident items you’re looking at are available at a discount.

4. Customize your shopping experience. 

The flexibility and convenience of shopping online can save you time. Since you aren’t shopping in-store, you don’t have to worry about store hours and locations, giving you the flexibility to shop at all hours and from any location, as long as you have Wi-Fi and access to a computer or mobile device. With the ability to shop around your schedule, you can gain precious time to spend with the people you love, doing the things you love.

5. Benefit from membership perks.

Another perk of online shopping is being able to leverage membership benefits to save more. Some retailers offer member-based programs or partner to offer members of certain programs discounts.

Between the vast selection, price options and convenience of shopping from home, there are many ways shoppers can save big on time and money as they shop for everyday essentials and household must-haves. 

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