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West Michigan Woman DECEMBER JANUARY 2016 17 : Page 24

FINANCIAL RECALIBR ATE YOUR FUNDS By John Knopper, Vice President, Branch Officer, United Bank INTERESTED IN RECALIBRATING YOUR FINANCES? HERE ARE SOME IDEAS ON HOW TO ACCOMPLISH THAT! DEBT Figure out how much you owe, and how much interest you are paying. If you own your home, consider options to refinance your mortgage—rates are still really low. Start chipping away at your debt, focusing on either your smaller obligations or your higher-interest rate loans. Until you get a chance to eliminate your credit card debt, request a lower credit card rate or change to a lower-rate card. While you’re at it, review your credit report at least annually. Visit www.annualcreditreport. com to request a free credit report from each of the credit reporting agencies. Review them for accuracy and for signs of identity theft. Your credit report will include information on disputing inaccurate information. is to keep your balance at 30 percent of the maximum limit or lower. • Make payments on time! Set up automatic payments to make sure your payments are timely. • Don’t apply for credit every time a good deal comes along. Request only the credit you need. • Don’t close paid-off accounts that you don’t use anymore. • Consult with a reputable, nonprofit credit counselor if you need help due to an overwhelming credit issue. Look for counselors at www.nfcc.org. SPENDING Perhaps there are areas in which you could cut back. Do you really need to stop for coffee every morning? Is it necessary to go out to lunch every day, or could you pack a sandwich from home? Weigh needs versus wants: You may end up making different spending decisions. Don’t spend more than you make! That can lead to long-term debt problems. GENEROSITY There are many people worse off than you are. Do what you can to help those in need by donating funds to worthy organizations. Do your research; see which organizations do the best job helping the community. BUDGETING Review your budget annually. Has your income changed? Have you eliminated debt that was an item in your budget? Have your expenses increased due LONG-TERM SAVINGS It’s never too early to start thinking about retirement! If your employer offers a match on a retirement plan such as a 401(k), contribute at least enough to WANT TO BOOST YOUR CREDIT SCORE? • Keep the balance low on revolving loans, such as credit cards. A good goal to a change in your family or living situation? An updated budget will be more realistic. Once your budget is updated, stick to it. 24 DECEMBER/JANUARY 2016-17 : WMW

Recalibrate Your Funds

John Knopper

INTERESTED IN RECALIBRATING YOUR FINANCES? HERE ARE SOME IDEAS ON HOW TO ACCOMPLISH THAT!

Debt

Figure out how much you owe, and how much interest you are paying. If you own your home, consider options to refinance your mortgage—rates are still really low. Start chipping away at your debt, focusing on either your smaller obligations or your higher-interest rate loans. Until you get a chance to eliminate your credit card debt, request a lower credit card rate or change to a lower-rate card. While you’re at it, review your credit report at least annually. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com to request a free credit report from each of the credit reporting agencies. Review them for accuracy and for signs of identity theft. Your credit report will include information on disputing inaccurate information.

Want to boost your credit score?

Keep the balance low on revolving loans, such as credit cards. A good goal is to keep your balance at 30 percent of the maximum limit or lower.

Make payments on time! Set up automatic payments to make sure your payments are timely.

Don’t apply for credit every time a good deal comes along. Request only the credit you need.

Don’t close paid-off accounts that you don’t use anymore.

Consult with a reputable, nonprofit credit counselor if you need help due to an overwhelming credit issue. Look for counselors at www.nfcc.org.

Budgeting

Review your budget annually. Has your income changed? Have you eliminated debt that was an item in your budget? Have your expenses increased due to a change in your family or living situation? An updated budget will be more realistic. Once your budget is updated, stick to it.

Spending

Perhaps there are areas in which you could cut back. Do you really need to stop for coffee every morning? Is it necessary to go out to lunch every day, or could you pack a sandwich from home? Weigh needs versus wants: You may end up making different spending decisions. Don’t spend more than you make! That can lead to long-term debt problems.

Generosity

There are many people worse off than you are. Do what you can to help those in need by donating funds to worthy organizations. Do your research; see which organizations do the best job helping the community.

Long-term savings

It’s never too early to start thinking about retirement! If your employer offers a match on a retirement plan such as a 401(k), contribute at least enough to get the matching funds. Don’t say no to free money.

Short-term savings

Eventually, you’ll need to replace your car, or a major appliance, or the roof on your house. Start setting money aside now to pay for those expenses. Keep the money in an accessible account; don’t tie it up in an investment or a long-term certificate of deposit.

Tax refund

Are you getting too big a tax refund?
If so, why are you lending money to the government at zero percent interest? Keep the money as part of your monthly budget by adjusting the withholding on your paycheck.

Awareness

Know the facts on your accounts. How much interest are you paying on that credit card balance? Do your accounts have a minimum balance requirement? Know how to avoid fees and penalties, and how to maximize your interest.

Be realistic.

You may not be in a position where you can put an increased percentage into your savings, so don’t make that a goal. Paying off debt and improving your credit score take time, so don’t get discouraged if change comes slowly. Realistically, you may not be in a position to make all of these changes.

Consult your bank for assistance.

Banks have many tools to help you recalibrate your finances. Develop a relationship with your bank’s investment advisor. Use your bank’s mobile app to see your financial picture anytime, anywhere. Sign up for automatic payment for all of your loans and credit cards, so you don’t miss a payment. Enroll in text or e-mail alerts for various situations that fit your needs, such as checking account activity or balance alerts.

The end of the year is a great time to recalibrate your funds! These are a few steps you could take to make your financial future rosier, starting in 2017!

Read the full article at http://www.mydigipub.com/article/Recalibrate+Your+Funds/2642866/358711/article.html.

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