Don’t let your finances get stuck in #GroundhogDay
Every year, the world’s attention falls on a little town in western Pennsylvania and its weather-predicting groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil. Every year, Phil tells us whether we can expect spring to arrive early, or if winter will remain. Whether that prediction reigns true or turns out to be false, it’s a tradition that has been carried out for years.
In one of his classic roles, Bill Murray played a weatherman covering the spectacle. In the movie many of us know and love, Murray’s character found himself reliving Groundhog Day over and over, unable to get out of his rut. Like Murray, too many of us leave our personal finances up to chance and we end up stuck in our own rut. But this is the year to change that. Don’t let your finances get stuck in Groundhog Day; follow these helpful tips to get yourself on track.
Establish goals. Goals are the starting point for every great venture and improving your finances is no different. Make sure your goals are specific and achievable. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are great finances. Maybe you just moved out on your own, finished paying off student loans and have a little extra cash flow, or are preparing for retirement. Depending on your position in life, each set of goals will be different. Make sure that goal is measurable so come next Groundhog Day, you can assess your progress, adjust accordingly and set the following year’s goal.
Plan and budget. With a finish line in place, now it is time to map out how you are going to get there. Getting from point A to point B is generally an easy task, so don’t overcomplicate it. Take the time to create a budget. Besides helping you get organized, creating a budget allows you to focus on what’s important: How much money you have in the bank, and how much your bills cost you each month. A realistic budget can help keep your revenue and expenses in line, and can even be a roadmap for setting realistic saving goals – whether it’s for a new car, a fun vacation or the day you retire. It can also help you plan for the unexpected, such as a trip to the hospital, a costly car repair, or a broken water heater. The basics are straightforward: How much money do you have, and how much do you spend? With a good budget, at the end of each month you can compare the list of your expenses with your income.
Start Saving. You work hard for your money, so don’t let it off the hook – make your money work for you. There are numerous avenues you can take to invest your money. CDs (Certificates of Deposit) are a simple way to start. You can put aside a certain amount of money for a set period of time (12, 18, 24 months etc.) and earn interest. CDs are often able to be opened with just a few hundred dollars. Other investments include Individual Retirement Accounts. With numerous different options, you are bound to find one that works for you. Even if you have a retirement account set up through your place of work, it is never a bad idea to set aside more money and let it grow. With each of these, the more money you have to set aside, the more you will earn. But it is important to start somewhere.
Technology is great. Use it! Today’s technology has made banking on-the-go safer and easier than ever. Mobile apps allow users access to their accounts anytime, anywhere which includes automatic bill pay and automated savings. Take advantage of these services. Automated services like Mid Penn Bank Bill Pay help you avoid costly late fees, and give you more time for things you enjoy. Automated savings deducts a set amount of money each pay day directly to your savings. Just by setting a small amount each week will help you build a savings in case it is ever needed.