Financial Spring Cleaning

It’s that time of the year when the weather begins to get a little warmer. There is still a bit of crispness in the air, but it’s not alarming. And, you don’t feel like you’re drowning in your own sweat from the heat and the humidity that will soon follow in the months to come. It’s the perfect time for some spring cleaning. While we can’t help you clean your closets at home, we can help clean your financial closets. Below are five tips to help you with your Financial Spring Cleaning:

1) Begin with your budget. Your budget is a fundamental factor when it comes to your finances. What you do with your budget determines whether you meet, exceed, or drop below your financial expectations for any given period of time… a day, a week, a month, a year, and beyond. Budgets should be solid, in that you know exactly where your money is going and why. Budgets should also be fluid, because they need to be able to adapt to any changes in your life, like a loss of income or an increase in rent or bills. If you haven’t taken a look at your budget lately, now is the perfect time to do so. Take a look at what money you have coming into your account and what goes out of it. Are the numbers balanced? Or do you find yourself dipping a little too deep in your savings or even in debt? What are your problem-spending areas? Are there areas in your budget where you are allocating more than you need? If so, adjust your budget accordingly.

2) Cut the Clutter. There are several ways to streamline your financial clutter. One way to do this is to close unused accounts. Some accounts are equivalent to the bridesmaid dress you buy for your friend’s wedding. It’s good for the time, but you probably aren’t going to use it again. While unused accounts don’t really hurt anyone, unless there is a dormancy charge, there really is no reason not to consolidate. The fact is, it is easier to manage one or two accounts that you use on a regular basis. Another way to cut the clutter is to shred and toss old checks and statements that you know you’re not going to need anymore. (Ex: The federal government recommends that you keep your account statements for a year and your tax documents, including supporting records for those documents, for seven years before you discard them.)

3) Say Yes to Paperless. While you’re cutting the clutter by shredding and tossing unnecessary documents, why not put a stop to the paper madness that is your desk, your dining table, your kitchen counter, or your floor? If you haven’t done it already, leave the paper behind, save some trees, and switch to electronic statements and bill pay. If you are worried about needing a paper trail at later date, you can always go online and print most of the documents that you need. At Members First Credit Union of Florida, online account statements, going back 18 months, are available for viewing and printing. If you are in need of documentation dated further back, there is always the option of speaking with a credit union representative at one of our branch locations. Please note, that in some cases, research and copy fees may apply.

4) Cut Costs. Be proactive about finding ways to save yourself money. Cut costs by shopping for better rates on insurance, cable, phone, and internet plans, etc. Consolidate your debt by transferring your balance to a card that gives you a lower rate. Now, until June 30, 2015, Members First Credit Union of Florida is offering rates as low as 5.95% APR* for balance transfers to your Members First Credit Card. This special limited time offer is good for the life of the balance. Also, no balance transfer fees or cash advance fees are required. Another good way to cut costs is by refinancing your current home or auto loan. To see a list of our current rates, visit our website at: www.membersfirstfl.org.

* APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Rates are subject to credit approval. Equal Housing Lender. Member NCUA.

5) Change Old Passwords. New years and spring weather often inspire a change in attitude and mindset. It’s the perfect time to embrace the concept of, “out with the old, in with the new”. It’s also a good time to remind yourself that if you’ve been slacking on changing your password for email, store accounts, and internet banking, now is the perfect time to do it. Changing your password on a regular basis, helps to protect your identity and your accounts from malicious activities. Remember, that when you are choosing your password, it is a good idea to create a password that contains a mixture of letters and numbers. Also, have a password that contains both upper and lower case characters, and if possible, include special characters like a # sign.