Visiting the doctor helps keep you healthy. Trips to the mechanic keep your car on the road. And regularly reviewing your finances—and finding ways to improve them—can help you live better today and achieve your dreams tomorrow.
Many people don’t give this subject the attention it deserves, but spending a little extra time and taking a few practical steps can work wonders for your finances. Use this financial health checklist to help you get started.
1. Do You Have Savings for Emergencies?
If you lost your job, your car broke down, or you got a large medical bill, would you have enough savings to keep yourself afloat? For 65% of Americans, the answer is probably not. Experts recommend setting aside enough to cover three to six months’ living expenses, such as rent, childcare, groceries, utilities, and car payments. The size of an emergency fund will vary, so see what’s right for you.
2. How Much Time Do You Spend Banking?
If you’re constantly running to a branch or spending a small fortune on stamps to pay your bills, it’s time to automate your finances. Build your emergency fund by setting up automatic transfers from checking to savings. Switch to Online and Mobile Banking and use Direct Deposit, Mobile Deposit, and Bill Pay—three great ways to save time and help simplify your finances.
3. Do You Have a Budget?
A smart budget doesn’t just stretch your paycheck: it can be the plan that helps you pay off debt faster and reach your savings goals sooner. Use an account aggregator like USECU’s Money Management tool to see all your financial accounts in one place, easily create a budget, track spending in real time, and find ways to save more of your money.
4. Do You Have the Right Accounts?
Do you have a free checking account? Are you earning a competitive rate on your savings? Is it easy to find a surcharge-free ATM? Ensuring you have the right accounts—and the right financial partner—helps keep more money in your pocket.
5. Any Outstanding Debt?
You may not be able to pay off your debt all at once, but you shouldn’t ignore it either. Take stock of how much you owe, and to whom, and consider which debts should take priority (such as high-interest credit cards or secured loans). Depending on your situation, you may benefit from debt consolidation or one of these debt-repayment strategies.
6. Are Your Retirement Savings on Track?
Some experts advise saving 10% to 15% of pretax income, but if you start saving later in life, it’s a good idea to save more. If you have a Traditional or Roth IRA or 401(k), make sure you’re taking full advantage of this tax-advantaged plan.1 Does your employer match retirement plan contributions up to a certain amount? Increase yours to make the most of this benefit.1 If you haven’t maxed out your IRA contributions for last year, you have until Tax Day (or your filing date) to do so.
7. What About Other Financial Goals?
Maybe you’re saving for college, the down payment on a home, or a trip to Europe. See how much you’ll need and whether you could set aside more (maybe you’re expecting a big IRS refund this year?). Make sure you have the right account for your needs: Use an Education Savings Account or 529 plan for education expenses, and consider a higher-dividend Term Certificate for other long-term goals.1
8. Do You Have the Right Insurance?
Managing risk is a big part of financial wellness. Make sure you have enough coverage for your car and home, but also that you’re not paying for coverage you don’t need. Is your life insurance coverage a good match for your family’s current and future expenses? If you’ve had any recent life changes (buying a home, having a new baby, etc.), update your coverage or beneficiaries accordingly.
9. How’s Your Credit?
Your credit score may be key to your next big transaction, so make sure it’s in good shape. FICO® Scores range from 300–850, with 670 and above considered good credit. Check for issues on your credit report—including potential errors or unauthorized activity—by getting your free credit report each year.
Supporting Financial Wellness Is Why We’re Here
With more than 30,000 surcharge-free ATMs, a great selection of checking, savings, and certificate options, and a full range of products and services to help you prepare for tomorrow, USE Credit Union is ready to support each step of your financial journey.