Whether it's inflation, rate fluctuations, a pandemic, or just meeting your monthly bills, it's important to make sure you’re as financially healthy as you can be. Smart money management will better prepare you for any uncertainties that tomorrow might bring and can help you get closer to your goals. Here are three ways you can better manage your finances through today's challenges and be financially prepared for the future.
1. See Where You Stand
The first step in any money-management program is to build a budget. This allows you to determine how much money you have coming in and how you’re spending it. The goal, of course, is to have what’s commonly referred to as a zero-based budget – one in which money coming in matches what’s going out (including savings, investments, and debt payments).
Is budgeting new to you? If so, we’ve got you covered. Contact us with any questions you have about financial planning. We’ve also partnered with BALANCE, a free financial education and counseling service, to offer a variety of budget-focused calculators, toolkits, tips, and resources that you can utilize at home.
Of course, if you’re already budgeting, great job! In times like these, your budget may differ significantly from what it was a few months or even weeks ago. You should continue to make revisions regularly and adjust for any changes in income or your savings and investment goals.
2. Prioritize Essential Payments and Bills
When money is tight, focus on the essentials: food, shelter, utilities, transportation, and any necessary medicines needed by you or a family member. Those expenses should continue to be your priority.
During your budget review, you may find charges such as cell phone service, streaming subscriptions, or gym memberships gobbling up a good chunk of cash. During periods of high costs due to inflation, “nice-to-haves” can be canceled or, at a minimum, suspended as you focus on what you need to get by.
Protecting your money is our priority
Scammers will go to any length to obtain your account information or to steal your identity. Be aware and stay prepared to lessen the chances of falling victim to identity theft.
3. Ask for Assistance
Asking for help may be a new experience for you. We get it. Below are some tips and resources on how to get financial help:
- Make it a priority to talk to each of your lenders to discuss your financial situation. Your lender might be able to help you refinance your loan or get into a different product that could lower your monthly payment. The most important takeaway is to ask for assistance, so contact them today.
- If you’re a small business owner, you’re likely worried about two sets of bills. Our local chambers of commerce offer a wealth of resources, including SBA disaster assistance information and guidelines for operations. Here are links to our local chambers: Alameda, Berkeley, Castro Valley, Fremont, Hayward, Livermore Valley, Oakland, Pleasanton, San Leandro
- Contact 2-1-1 Alameda County to learn about additional health, housing, and human services resources for local residents currently experiencing hardships. To get help, simply dial 2-1-1 from your phone, or visit their website.
We're here to help
Above all, we remain committed to improving our members’ quality of life and the communities we serve across the East Bay, Tri-Valley, and surrounding areas. If you need financial assistance, we encourage you to reach out and let us know so we can best assist you.
As a reminder, financial counseling and education through BALANCE is free for all 1st United members. To get started, call (888) 456-2227 and let them know that 1st United Credit Union sent you.