Unity One CU informs: 3 Financial Tips to Jump Start the New Year

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Written by: Spencer Carver. Originally posted on the CUNA Financial Resource Center.

Did you overspend during the holiday season? Are you feeling the “blue’s” of the new year? Or the “holiday hangover” effect from not only too much egg nog but from spending beyond your means? Don’t worry—most American’s have likely overspent and there is always opportunity to change. The new year can mean a new start and that is the most important step—to start, wherever you are, to change the behaviors so you can create a more financially sound version of YOU. Here are three tips to help you move along your path:

  1. Start automating your savings: Don’t leave this up to will power. With your first pay check of the year, open a secondary savings and start payroll deducting a small amount. Even $5.00 a week can help jumpstart a savings account. It may not seem like much, but over time, you’ll develop confidence that you can save money. Before you realize it, the $5.00 will increase to $10.00 per week, then $20.00 per week. Automating the process will make saving easier.
     
  2. Learn about financial wellness: When was the last time you took a class or read an article that taught you how to manage your finances? Chances are your employer may already offer a financial wellness program for which you may receive credit or points for participating in it. Additional knowledge is never a bad idea. As you learn how to better manage your own finances, your confidence will increase, and your financial habits will improve.
     
  3. Create a budget: Having a budget is THE most important thing you can do. At work, your employer tracks your efforts (input) and your results (output) to help them predict whether you will succeed in your job. A budget is the same thing; it helps you track your input vs. output. Your success is based on your ability to utilize, adapt, and manage your budget. Also, keep in mind that the amount you spend one month may be different than what you spend another month, so it’s important to make changes to the budget regularly.

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#UAdulting: Save on your monthly spending with couponing hacks.

Hello 2018! The new year is here, and it brings resolutions for many. At the very top of many lists is to save more money. But where do you begin? To save money, experts advise consumers to change their spending habits. It’s easier said than done. But what we do know is that baby steps can lead to big steps. One way to reduce spending is to save money on things you’re already planning on buying by using coupons.

Are you new to the coupon game? Lucky for you, Unity One Credit Union has an in-house coupon guru. Blanca Gomez is the branch manager of both the BCTAL and KCAL branches. She has been with Unity One for 11 years and has been a couponer since 2015.

 

Here are Blanca’s tips and tricks on how to become the best couponer without getting overwhelmed.

Where is the best place to start looking for coupons?

  • To begin couponing the traditional way, by clipping coupons, the best place to start is by looking for coupons in the Sunday newspaper. You can subscribe and get the paper delivered to your home for a monthly fee, or you can purchase the Sunday paper at any gas station or grocery store. However, the cheapest place I’ve seen is at Dollar Tree. A Sunday paper is $1.

How do you keep it all organized?  

  • When I first started couponing, I had a big binder with baseball card holders. I would clip coupons and had them organized by categories like cleaning supplies, food, makeup, personal hygiene, etc. That system eventually got very complicated. It was hard to keep up because coupons expired and went unused.
  • I gave up on my outdated ways and downloaded an app, Southern Savers, which is available for both IOS and Android. With the app, I’m able to know exactly when and where specific coupons are located and can be used. The app even has its own coupon database where I can search any product I need. Now, all I do is go into the app and look up any coupon I need.

When is the best time to go couponing?

  • You want to go as soon as a sale starts and early in the morning. Reason being, a lot of the times stores run out of items.

How do you keep from buying things you don’t need?  

  • This was the hardest for me! I would purchase things I didn’t need and food I didn’t eat only because it was cheap! So, what I started doing was writing down my grocery list. Now I only use coupons for items we need like: detergent, toilet paper, paper towels, shampoo, etc. You can save a lot of time and money by keeping lists of what you are going to purchase. Prepare. 

Are there other resources other than paper? (Example: apps, websites, etc.)

  • Like I mentioned, my favorite app is Southern Savers.  This is one of the apps that informs you where exactly you can find coupons for all types of products.
  • Another great resource is, Instagram! There are pages created by “coupon fairies” where you can buy coupons. There are also pages that inform you about specific store sales and coupons.

What advice would you give a new couponer so he/she doesn’t get overwhelmed and give up.

  • Best advice I can think of is following couponers on social media. Also, take breaks when you feel you need it!  Couponing can be a lot of work.

Quiz: Are you living paycheck to paycheck?

According to Dr. Phil's Web site, more than one third of adults admit they spend more than what they can afford, and 70 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. Are you doing the same?paycheck to paycheck
Take this "Financial Trainwreck" quiz from drphil.com. Answer true or false to the following statements:
  • I will neglect bills to make an impulse or luxury purchase.
  • I will make a purchase based on my perceived need or desire, or what I feel I deserve, instead of what I can afford.
  • I buy items out of guilt for my children, whether or not I can afford them.
  • I buy name-brand goods because of the emotional feeling.
  • I sometimes finance toys — boats, RVs, four-wheelers — or vacations.
  • I use borrowed money, such as credit cards, to make payments on items I have already financed. 
  • I charge basic living expenses: mortgage, car note, student loan, tax bill.
  • I buy things based on monthly payments instead of actual cost. 
  • I lack a budget or plan based on my financial reality, and lie to myself or spouse about expenditures. 
  • When I'm stressed out, anxious or celebrating, I spend money I don't have.
Count the number of true answers. If you answered true to any of these, you have an unhealthy spending habit. If you answered true to five or more, you are headed for serious financial troubles.
So, what's the solution? According to Kiplinger.com, here are some ways to remedy the situation:
  • Track spending and watch expenses. Track down to your spending pattern on a daily basis. Be detailed.
  • Start cutting. 1) Cut interest rates by asking for lower rates from your lender or find a card that has low fixed rates. 2) Find deals. For example, use Skype and lower your long-distance bill.
Always feel free to contact your financial institution for other cost-saving techniques to break the cycle.
 

 

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