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How to Reboot Your Finances for the New Year

If the past year didn't turn out how you planned, you're certainly not alone. No matter what 2020 looked like for you, there's always a chance for a fresh start! It's the perfect time to turn over a new leaf and change your financial outlook.

Here's how to reboot your finances for the new year: ​

Build (or rebuild) your emergency fund

One big lesson from 2020 is to be prepared for the unexpected. Everyone needs an emergency fund, which covers living expenses in the event of job loss, illness or another unplanned event. If you don't have an emergency fund, now is the time to build a starter fund of at least $1,000. From there, work toward saving enough to cover three to six months of essential expenses.

If you had to use your fund during the pandemic, it's okay! Life happens, and that's exactly what emergency funds are for. When you're able to save again, focus on rebuilding your fund so you're ready for whatever life brings next.

Review your spending

Chances are, your normal spending habits shifted as a result of the pandemic. Many people cut back on expenses like gym memberships, new clothes and travel. On the flip side, extra time at home could mean spending more on take-out, home improvement projects and entertainment. As you work on your 2021 budget, think about which spending habits you want to bring into the new year and which ones you want to leave behind.

Hit the reset button on your budget with these tips:

  • Track all your spending. Use Wright-Patt Credit Union's (WPCU) free Money Management tool to keep track of all your purchases, including those with other financial institutions.
  • Try a spending freeze. Pause all unnecessary purchases for a weekend, week or even an entire month. This means not buying anything that isn't gas, groceries or other essentials!
  • Take on a money challenge. WPCU's one-week money challenge has money goals for each day of the week to help you improve your financial situation. See how much you can save!

Automate everything you can

With today's technology, it's possible to put many money management tasks on autopilot. Here are a few financial to-dos you can automate to help make life a little easier:

  • S​et up direct deposit. See if your employer can deposit your paycheck directly into your account on payday instead of providing paper checks.
  • Enroll in online bill pay. WPCU's Online Bill Pay makes it quick and easy to schedule payments for recurring monthly bills. Online bill pay is more secure than sending checks in the mail, and you won't have to worry about forgetting a due date.
  • Schedule transfers into your savings. “Pay yourself first" by auto-depositing a portion of your paycheck into your savings every time you get paid. Use WPCU's Mobile and Online Banking to set up automatic recurring transfers between accounts. You might be surprised at how quickly your savings add up!

Get ready for a great new year!

Start 2021 on the right financial foot with WPCU! We're here to help you achieve greater financial flexibility and freedom, no matter where you are on your financial journey. Visit our online Education Center to find free budgeting worksheets, informative videos, interactive learning modules and more to help you sharpen your money management skills.​