The weather is crisp and cool, the leaves are changing color and soon we'll be getting ready for the holidays. Autumn has arrived!
Fall is a perfect time to check in on your finances and make any adjustments before the end of the year. Give your finances a fall check-up with these simple steps:
#1: Plug spending leaks
A spending leak is any unplanned, non-essential purchase that “leaks" out of your budget without your knowledge. Some examples include to-go coffee drinks, convenience store snacks and other impulse purchases. It's surprising how these small expenses can add up!
Take some time this fall to look over your current spending habits. Are there any areas where you can cut back? Wright-Patt Credit Union's (WPCU) free online Money Management tool lets you see all of your accounts in one place, including those from other financial institutions. Use Money Management to track your spending, categorize your expenses and identify potential leaks in your budget!
#2: Revisit your savings goals
Remember those savings goals you set at the beginning of the year? Now is a great opportunity to check your progress! Use this time to remember why you're saving. Maybe you want to save for a home or car down payment, a vacation or a child's college education.
If you feel like you're behind on your savings, you can still get back on track. Think about it: redirecting just $5 a day to your savings will help you save about $150 a month. Another way to stay motivated in your savings journey is to visualize your progress. You could print out a savings chart, use a spreadsheet or download an app to keep track of your growing savings. Focus on your why and celebrate the small wins along the way. You've got this!
#3: Review your credit report
It's always a good idea to review your credit reports to make sure all the information is accurate and up to date. You can get a free copy of your credit report from each of the nationwide credit bureaus — Experian, TransUnion and Equifax — every 12 months at AnnualCreditReport.com. Because accessing your credit is even more important in these times of COVID-19, the credit bureaus are now offering free weekly online reports until April 2021. Keeping a close eye on your credit report will help you spot potential signs of identity theft and fraud.
#4: Take inventory of your debt
As you get your finances organized this fall, it's important to include any debts you owe. Use our helpful Debt Inventory Worksheet to get a snapshot of all your debts, due dates and amounts. When you know exactly what you owe, you can start creating a repayment plan to get ahead of debt.
#5: Create your holiday budget
Believe it or not, the holidays are right around the corner! Get ready for gift-giving, holiday traditions, charitable donations and travel by planning your holiday budget well in advance. Start by listing out all your holiday-related expenses and how much you want to spend in each category. Working backward and reviewing your past holiday spending can give you an idea of what to expect this year. Then, you can start setting aside funds now to cover your expenses.
Tracking your holiday spending and sticking to a budget will help you end the year strong, without adding extra debt. Think of holiday budgeting as a gift to yourself!
Throughout every season, Wright-Patt Credit Union is here to help you Save Better, Borrow Smarter and Learn a Lot! Visit our online Education Center or call 800-762-0047 to talk to one of our helpful Financial Coaches.