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Eight Simple Financial Resolutions For 2021

January 26, 2021

It is a time-honored tradition to make resolutions that motivate you to start your year in a positive direction. While looking to shed a few pounds or cut your intake of sweets might be on the list, have you thought about adding a resolution related to your financial health? This month Valley Strong offers a few simple suggestions to help strengthen your financial position throughout 2021.  

1. Find tools to help.  

Before any type of financial planning can start, you need tools to help get the job done. With just a click of a button, Valley Strong’s DataNet online banking can easily track and organize every transaction in and out of your account. DataNet includes standard categories like shopping and dining, while also allowing customized categories to ensure the reality of your spending habits are reflected. Using these categories, DataNet’s built in “Analytics” tool helps to visualize exactly where money is going. Prefer to work outside of DataNet using popular software such as Excel, Google Sheets or Quicken? No problem, you can easily export information there as well.   

2. Create or update your budget.  

With a clearer picture of your spending habits, you should create, or update a budget regularly. Your budget is a personal financial plan, reflecting the priorities and goals you have decided upon, and most importantly helping you get there by sticking to it. As spending habits, income, and expenses change, analyzing your budget and recognizing patterns, good or bad, can help you stay on track to keep moving towards these goals. The New Year is always a good time to assess what habits you might want to continue and what habits to leave behind. Did coffee runs and online shopping take over in 2020? Look for ways to reallocate those dollars towards one of your financial goals or priorities.  

3. Evaluate monthly subscriptions. 

As the popularity of subscription services for everything from entertainment to exercise grows, so does the need to periodically examine their impact on a budget. While individually each service may not seem costly, taking a few moments to tally them, quickly reveals the true cost of these recurring subscriptions. Using DataNet to categorize this type of expense can help you decide which of them provides value and which could be cancelled in favor of a wiser investment. Not sure where to start? This article from Popular Science provides some good strategies to help address it.  

4. Shop your insurance.  

Having home, auto, renters, or life insurance is a reality we all understand as necessary to protect our assets and provide peace of mind in the event of an emergency. However, insurance is an expense you should evaluate frequently to ensure you are getting the best rate possible. When was the last time you shopped around for a new policy? If you do not regularly do so, you may be paying more than you need to. Start with a call to your current carrier and ask if your rate is the best rate available. Discuss any changes which may impact your policy, including changes to your daily commute or upgrades to your home, which may have increased its value. After talking to your current carrier, reach out to other carriers, including one of Valley Strong’s trusted partners for more quotes to compare and find the best rate to fit your financial situation. 

5. Refinance your mortgage. 

Mortgage rates are at historic lows, although for how long is unclear.  If you have not explored whether you could benefit from a lower payment or shorter term through refinancing, now is the time to do it. Take a few minutes to explore the options available with a mortgage from Valley Strong.  Check today’s rates and use our handy payment calculator to give you an idea if this is the right time to refocus your mortgage spending to align with your financial goals.  

6. Consolidate your debt. 

An easy way to save money and time is consolidating multiple debts into one with a personal loan from Valley Strong. Personal loans allow multiple debts to be paid at one interest rate, with equal payments, over a specified amount of time. This allows you to solidify your budget, often saves money, and provides peace of mind knowing when your debt will be paid.  Many consumers report personal loans help them feel more in control of their debt because it gives them a set payment schedule and an end date towards reaching a stronger financial position. 

7. Get serious about savings.  

Let’s be honest, saving money is not always easy, as demonstrated by 23% of Americans who said their top financial regret during the pandemic was not having a sufficient emergency fund. Having a plan to commit to funding emergency savings is essential to ensure your financial health. Experts recommend having about 6 months of living expenses easily accessible, which sounds incredibly difficult, so start small and make it easy. Review some of your spending habits to find out where you can take twenty or thirty dollars a week to put into savings. Another strategy is to have part of your paycheck deposited directly into an account to help avoid seeing some of your income in the account you use for spending and therefore limit the temptation to spend it frivolously. 

8. Review or establish your estate plan. 

Death is an uncomfortable subject for most people. Having an estate plan is a sensible way to make your wishes clear and help alleviate some of the stress associated with the passing of a loved one. An estate plan, like many other financial aspects, should be revisited from time to time to ensure it encompasses any changes which could affect your loved ones. As part of your estate planning, be sure to update beneficiaries for accounts, including bank and retirement, and insurance policies to ensure they reflect your current situation. Have you had another child? Invested in more properties?  Changed jobs? All these common occurrences could necessitate a change to your estate plan. Set an appointment with a financial advisor or attorney to review your plan. Take advantage of one of the benefits of banking with Valley Strong by arranging a free consultation with an attorney specializing in estate planning today to get started. 

Making small financial changes can lead to big financial successes. For even more resources to help you address your financial goals, Valley Strong has partnered with Balance Financial Fitness to offer free access to experts who can provide tailored consultations for your situation. If you feel like you need a little extra help, please take advantage of this valuable resource. Valley Strong looks forward to helping you on your journey of turning financial possibilities into realities!