7 Ways to Simplify Your Finances in 2022
By Southland Credit Union

A common New Year’s resolution that we frequently hear at Southland Credit Union is the desire to be better with money. We love helping our Members achieve this goal no matter how far off it may seem. One way to accomplish your goals is by streamlining your personal finances, including income and expenses. Small steps can make a big impact on your financial future, and with these seven tips, you’ll be organized and ready to put your best foot forward in the new year.  

1. Sign up for direct deposit

Pay day! Whether that’s something that occurs monthly, weekly or bi-weekly for you, it’s a day to look forward to. If you have direct deposit set up, your money is automatically deposited into your checking account. Without direct deposit, you likely have to visit the bank or ATM, or upload your check via mobile deposit each time you get paid. To eliminate these steps, check in with your employer to see if direct deposit is something they offer. From there, they’ll most likely ask for your account and routing number, bank and name to set you up. And, depending on when your employer releases your paycheck, signing up for direct deposit with Southland can get you paid two days early! Direct deposit ensures you’re receiving your money on time each month and paves the road for success when setting up bill pay, which we’ll discuss later. 

2. Check on your company’s 401(k) plan 

You’re never too young to set up your retirement plan. Check in on your company’s 401(k) or retirement offerings to ensure that you’re taking advantage of the benefits available to you. For example, some companies match 401(k) contributions up to a certain amount. If that’s the case for you, it’s a good idea to try to meet the match requirements so that you receive the maximum amount of matching funds. For example, if your company matches up to a 5% contribution, make it your goal to allocate 5% of each paycheck to your 401(k). If a 5% contribution sounds too difficult to achieve at first, try working up to this amount over time to help you sustain the effort in the long term. With 401(k) money automatically deducted from your paycheck, it’s one less transfer that you have to make and one more action to establish financial stability for your future. 

3. Consider setting up an individual retirement account (IRA)

Another way to set your retirement up for success is by creating an individual retirement account, or IRA. This may be especially helpful if you work for yourself or if you’re interested in saving more for your retirement. Some IRA accounts are tax-deferred and some are funded with after-tax dollars. Southland Credit Union offers three different types of IRA accounts to choose from; Traditional IRA, Roth IRA and SEP IRA. If you’re not sure which IRA account would work best for you, consider meeting with an advisor to get your questions answered. 

4. Get the most from your checking account 

How well do you know your checking account? For instance, some accounts require a minimum monthly deposit or account balance to avoid service fees. Over time these fees add up and if you’ve noticed them when reviewing your bank statements, chances are there’s a better checking account option available for you. If your current checking account has monthly fees, consider switching to a free option   Deciding what you’re looking for in a checking account and which requirements you’re able to meet can help you decide on the best option and even allow you to consolidate several accounts into one to maximize your money.

5. Consolidate your credit cards 

With more retailers offering their own credit cards, it’s easier than ever to suddenly find yourself with multiple lines of credit open. In fact, a survey by CreditCards.com finds that nearly 7 out of 10 adults sign up for credit cards on impulse at checkout. If this sounds familiar, don’t despair – having multiple credit cards isn’t bad, but take time to evaluate your interest rates and balances. If your cards have annual fees and high interest rates, your multiple retail store cards may be costing you. It’s good practice to utilize one credit card that has the rewards and benefits that are most valuable to you. If you’ve accumulated a balance on multiple cards, consider transferring balances over to a low interest card. 

6. Set your bills to auto pay

Avoid late fees and get time back in your day by setting your bills to pay automatically. Whether you use the auto pay feature from your biller, or set up bill pay with your bank or credit union, automating your payments is one easy way to put your finances on autopilot. Many banks and credit unions offer online bill pay services so you can manage all your bills in one place. 

7. Manage Your Debit Cards 

Your checking account can never be too secure. One way to better protect your assets and ensure that you aren’t overspending is by setting up card authorization alerts. Look for account alerts in your bank or credit union app. Alerts for transactions and low balances will help keep you informed. If you’ve reached your personal spending limit budget for the month or are opting not to use a card, you can use card block and unblock features to block your card from use temporarily. Your financial institution may also allow you to block international transactions or transactions based on merchant types in card controls to secure your account. These features allow you to control your budget and keep your cards safe.    From saving you time to saving you money, we hope these tips help streamline your finances in 2022! To plan for other financial resolutions, such as buying a house, paying off debt or saving for retirement, check out Southland’s free Achieve: Financial Education for adults series. Take a personalized quiz to see which financial courses will be most helpful for you.