“Nearly half (47%) of Americans would not be able to come up with $400 to cover an emergency expense without having to borrow or sell something” according to a recent federal survey.
Let that sink in for a second. The harsh reality is that nearly 50% of us aren’t saving like we should be. Let’s make it a priority in 2019 to change that statistic and protect ourselves and our families in case of an emergency.
I am really excited to be working closely with BECU this year to get my finances in order and learn how to become more financially savvy, with a credit union that is genuinely focused on the well-being of its members. Did you know that they may reward great financial health (e.g – increased credit scores) by lowering interest rates automatically (for qualifying members, if you’re not already receiving their lower rate)? Count me in!
I’m going to be honest; when my husband Dan started medical school in 2014 we quickly realized that we were going to be stuck with a lot of student debt. We were stressed, to say the least! We needed advice and a plan to minimize our debt. We met with financial advisors, tax representatives, and family. Everyone had an opinion and offered their advice, but the consensus was that, in our case, the student debt we would take on wasn’t bad debt and with sacrifice and discipline, we could manage.
Even with good advice and a sound financial plan, the student debt was a huge weight on our shoulders. Before his first tuition payment was due we sat down and set a budget. We have been diligent about tracking it closely for all four years of his education. We made many sacrifices, ate a lot of oatmeal and eggs, worked very hard and made ends meet each year.
This practice helped me develop a habit of starting each year by setting goals and choosing a word for the year. I reflect on that word and incorporate it into my decisions, conversations, and thoughts. In 2018, my word was “Yes”. Yes to new opportunities. Yes to new adventures. Yes to new jobs. Yes to events. Yes to trying rabbit ravioli, elk tartare, and lots of other adventurous eats.
I’m making a shift in 2019 and my word of the year is: Prioritize.
Most of us want to start every New Year out right: eat healthy, exercise, improve our finances, reduce stress, maybe even change jobs, or partners or careers or states (except for those of us who live in Spokane!).
Focus, Plan & Track
I have found with major life goals, focusing on one area, developing a plan and tracking progress are all key factors in success. Let’s start 2019 by tackling our financial situations. The following statistics are interesting and a little bit shocking:
- 57% of Americans say they are struggling financially – https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20150324006246/en/Report-Reveals-Americans-Financially-Healthy
Does this sobering statistic apply to you? Maybe for 2019, a key resolution would be to reduce student debt, build an emergency savings, or perhaps, save for a new car or first home.
Free Financial Health Assessment
A great first step to financial security is a free Financial Health Check assessment from BECU.
This simple and seamless process will provide insight and clarity to your financial health. Sometimes the key to financial planning and security is a trusted financial partner. After a detailed phone call breaking down my spending, budgets, debts and goals with a friendly BECU financial health check specialist, I’m on the fast track to crushing my 2019 financial plan! In under an hour I was able to link my credit cards to the BECU Online Banking Money Manager tool where I can easily set budgets, track my spending, and make sure I stay on track this year. They can even send email or text updates as you get close reaching your budgets to keep you accountable! Because let’s be honest, sometimes it’s nice to have someone else watching your back.
In addition to a free Financial Health Check assessment and access to the handy Money Manager tool, BECU also offers articles, online webinars and in-person sessions including free programs on reducing debt and building financial security. They are there for you every step of your financial journey!
Information on opening an account at BECU: https://www.becu.org/members-matter/about-membership/switch-to-becu.
A good financial partner, like BECU, can help you save by offering better rates, fewer fees and providing financial education. Many of us have never been exposed to basic budgeting and financial education, they don’t teach that in school anymore and learning by experience can be an expensive lesson.
Set up a Budget
Setting a budget is always a great way for visualizing where your paycheck goes and can help set a savings plan. There are lots of great free and low-cost online tools for setting and tracking budgets.
Of course, the most difficult part of setting a budget is the discipline required to stay on track daily. They say it takes 21 days to form a habit or dissolve a new one. I recommend setting a budget and committing to it for 21 days. Hopefully by then your spending patterns have become habits and will be easier to successfully maintain.
New Year, New You
So, put yourself first this year! Be your own priority and make 2019 the year you get your finances on track, get the education you need, and make a better life for you and your family. By prioritizing your spending (with the help of BECU budgeting practices), and your time (becoming more financially literate via BECU webinars, seminars, and your free Financial Health Check) you will be better set to live your best life.
Happy 2019 – the year I choose to prioritize myself, my financial health, and my financial education so I can enjoy more time doing the things I love (eating) without all the stress of not being able to afford it!
This post is sponsored by BECU. All opinions are my own.