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Money Skills

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Practical Tips for Financial Goals

Deciding What type of Banking is Appropriate For You

It can be difficult to find the right bank account. If you want to switch banks or you are a parent helping your child open a checking account, the process can be overwhelming. Some banks have advantages like cash back deals, no fees when you use another bank’s ATM or excellent customer service. On the other hand, other banks may have a bad reputation for high fees, a limited amount of ATMs geographically, or minimum balance requirements. There are a few steps you may want to take to decide what type of bank account is right for you.

Decide if you are comfortable with monthly maintenance fees

Some banks require a fee to hold an account, but it can be waived if a minimum amount of money is deposited in the account or if customers are a student. If you do not want to pay a fee and do not meet the waiving requirements, you may want to research banks that have no minimum requirements.

Determine what type of banker you are

Are you tech-savvy and prefer online banking or do you like face-to-face interaction inside a branch location? There are some banks that are online only while others are small and may not have an application for your phone. Online only banks do not allow cash to be deposited so if your job is cash-based, like a bartender earning tips, then online-only banks would be something to avoid. Decide what you are looking for and make sure the bank you choose is acceptable for you.

Think about your future

If you plan to move in the next few years or are a student going to college soon, you may want to pick a bank with a national presence, so you have access to ATMs and physical branches where ever life takes you. If you plan to stay in the same location, a local bank might be attractive to you.

Determine what type of spender you are

Are you going to use this account to pay your household bills, for entertainment and dining, or both? Check out the cash back deals to see if you can earn money for what you are already doing. Cashback deals may be a nice bonus and there are some banks that even offer a cash bonus when the account is opened.

Ask around

Ask your family and friends what bank they have and what they think of it. While you may not want to ask personal information like how much money they are depositing to meet any requirements, you could ask if they are pleased with the customer service, location accessibility, and online/app functionality. These steps can help you be prepared to change your bank or open a new account. Make sure you read the fine print and take your current financial situation into consideration.

Habits for Everyday Saving

Purchase items when they are out of season

Purchasing a kayak in the middle of July or a winter coat in December may not be the best financial decision. The prices will be much more than if you purchased the items in the offseason. There are always end of the season sales on clothing so make your purchases then.

Eliminate shipping costs

Many people like to purchase items online for convenience. However, shipping costs can add up. You may want to purchase items online only if there is free shipping. If you have to meet a minimum dollar amount, purchase additional items only if they are basic household essentials like laundry detergent or shampoo. If it is an online-only retailer, look on the internet for free shipping codes or see if the site offers one around holiday weekends.

Use coupons

We understand that not everyone likes to clip coupons from the Sunday circular but if you are willing to dedicate a few minutes a week, over time you will save yourself some money. Some stores may even give you a coupon if you ask for one.

Reduce the frequency of eating in restaurants

While there are many delicious restaurants, it can become costly to eat out frequently. Consider packing your lunch during the week and limiting your meals out to only the weekends. Eating at home can be less expensive, healthier, and gives you the opportunity to interact with your family.

Invest in reusable items

If you typically use single-use water bottles, coffee cups, or sandwich bags, instead purchase high-quality reusable items. You will save the recurring expense of these items and help save the environment as well! These habits can be easy to initiate into your lifestyle to help you save money. It may not seem like these techniques are impacting your finances but over time you will see a difference and may have more of your paycheck put towards savings.

Organization

Reduce the number of credit cards you have

The more credit cards you have, the more likely you are to forget to make payments. Missing a credit card payment can lead to late fees and possibly a reduction in your credit score. Plus, if you have multiple credit cards that you are not paying off each month, then you will be charged with interest on the balance. Depending on how high your balances are, and the interest rates your credit card companies use, the interest you pay can add up quickly. You may have hundreds of dollars in interest charges if you are a frequent credit card user. Evaluate which credit cards you currently have and keep a few that have the best perks such as cash back and or points.

Organize important files

Organize your paper files as well as your electronic files. It may be helpful to scan important documents on your computer to reduce the clutter in your filing cabinet. You may want to back up your computer on to two external hard drives—one can be kept in your home and

Sort mail right away

When you receive your mail, sort through it as soon as possible. If you have the money available, pay your bills as you receive them in the mail. If you have online bill pay, ensure that it is processed by the correct date to avoid late payments. You may want to take advantage of the app, Paper Karma, that allows you to take a picture of junk mail and unsubscribes you from that mailing list. This will help the amount of unwanted mail you receive.

Evaluate your expenses

Look at your monthly expenses and see where you can cut costs. Do you pay for a premier cable package but only watch the same few channels? Talk to your cable company about changing your package. Do you have a subscription to Pandora, Spotify, and Apple Music? Pick which platform is your favorite and unsubscribe from the rest.

Use applications or websites to help  you get organized

There are applications for so many things, including your finances. Mint is an app that you can use to keep track of your bills, helps you budget, and even offers you a free credit score. Talk to us at Planning Across the Spectrum about getting you set up with an eMoney account. This is a great way to view your investment portfolio and your financial goals. You can link bank accounts, retirement accounts, and any other account you have to the website. You are also able to list your liabilities, monthly expenses, and insurance policies. It is a way to have all your financial data in one place, so you are aware of your financial status.

Make sure you are notified of all large purchases on your joint account

If you plan to make an expensive purchase on your joint account, consult with the other account owner before doing so to ensure that it does not disrupt any processing charges or checks that would cause an account overdraft. We hope the implementation of these tips will help make your life a little easier. Managing your finances can be difficult, but Planning Across the Spectrum is here to help.

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Investment advice offered through Private Advisor Group, a registered investment advisor. Private Advisor Group and Planning Across the Spectrum are separate entities from LPL Financial

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