In collaboration with our friends at Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
There is something about Spring that makes us feel like we have a fresh start. From the sunnier skies to the blooming flowers – this time of year always gives us a little extra boost to tidy up around or homes and yards. It is also important to take the time to do the same with our finances! Here are a few ways to get started on Spring Cleaning your finances.
1. Request a free credit report
You can request a free credit report every 12 months from each of the three major consumer reporting companies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Once you have your credit report, you can check for and correct any errors. This is especially important if you’re thinking of making any big purchases, like buying a new home. Our checklist will help you know what to look for in your credit report. Try setting a calendar reminder so you remember to check your credit reports on a regular basis. You can request all three reports at once or you can order one report at a time. By requesting the reports separately (for example, one every four months) you can monitor your credit report throughout the year.
Just like with the big three consumer reporting companies, you can also get free copies of your nationwide specialty consumer reports every 12 months from many of the specialty consumer reporting companies. Specialty consumer reporting companies collect and share information about employment history, medical records and payments, check writing, or insurance claims.
2. Address debt
If you’re facing a large debt or your payments are overdue, your first instinct may be to ignore the debt or hope it goes away. But, that will things worse and lead to more stress down the line. There are strategies that can help you make payments that work for your current financial situation.
First, review your bills and make sure you understand what you owe. Using automatic Bill Pay with your credit union, or utilizing a bill tracker can help you stay on top of your payment due dates.
Second, contact your lenders to see if alternative payment options are available. You may be able to change your due date so that a payment is due closer to when you receive your income.
3. Review your spending
Have you ever looked at your credit card bill and wondered where all those charges came from? Or, have you found yourself swiping your credit card for a purchase before you’ve had a chance to think about it?
Gain control over your credit card spending by taking a close look at your credit card purchases over the past couple months. If you’re looking to cut back, try breaking down necessary expenses vs. wants. Once you see how you’re spending, try creating a “rule to live by” to make sure you stay on track. These kinds of simple personal guidelines, such as using cash for smaller purchases, make it easier to stick to your goals over time.
You can also utilize money management tools to help keep all your finances in focus. By knowing all your accounts and tracking your budget all in one place, it can help reduce stress and give you peace of mind.
4. Save automatically
After checking your budget, you may see some more opportunities to boost your savings. For example:
- If you have a credit union membership and direct deposit, you can arrange to automatically deposit some of your paycheck to a savings account every time you’re paid, instead of all of it going into a checking account.
- You can check with your employer to see if it’s possible to split your paycheck into two accounts. You may also be able to transfer some of the money in your checking account into a savings account at another institution to keep it out of sight out of mind.
Did you know that nearly 46 percent of consumers indicated that they could not pay for an emergency expense of $400? When you save for unexpected expenses, you can handle them when they happen without having to skip other bills or borrow money. Start with $500 as your goal. This is enough to cover a lot of common emergencies, like car repairs, a plane ticket to care for a sick family member, or smaller medical costs.
Questions? Connect with our Member Relationship Specialists today at 503-275-0300 Option 3, send a secure message or chat with us when you log into your Online Banking! You can also stop by our branch located at 95 SW Taylor St., Portland, OR 97204 – we are here to help!