All posts by Cy-Fair FCU

Five Steps to Organizing Your Finances

 

Do you know your net worth? Or how much you spend each month, and on what? Or how much you can expect from your pension plan or Social Security in retirement? A majority of the population will answer “no,” saying they’ve been too busy with life to get a handle on their finances.

 

Fortunately, there’s a 5-step action plan to help you take control of your money.

 

1. Set up a financial filing system either manually or online. Keep separate folders for different expenses and records, for instance “Auto Expenses,” “Insurance,” “Mortgage,” “XYZ Credit Card,” etc.. There are also many online apps that will allow you to do this electronically.

 

2. Gather records. Look through your records to identify missing information. For example, you need an estimate of your Social Security retirement benefits. To request one, visit ssa.gov or call 800-772-1213. Gather copies of your health, disability, life, homeowners, and vehicle insurance policies, and get a copy of your credit report.  You can check your credit report—the summary of your credit activity that generates your credit score—from each of the three major credit reporting agencies once a year for free. Always make your requests from the annualcreditreport.com website, the only site sanctioned by the Federal Trade Commission. Or, you can call 877-322-8228. Make one request every four months in rotation among the three credit agencies so you can monitor your credit report year round.

 

3. Size up your situation. Add the estimated current value of all assets, including your home, car, personal property, savings, investments, and retirement accounts.  Next, add all liabilities, including mortgage, credit card balances, and any other outstanding debt. Then subtract liabilities from assets to figure net worth.  Then, make a list of income and expenses by reviewing paycheck stubs, online checking account information or your checkbook register, and credit card statements from the past year. Finally, track spending for a month by saving all receipts or recording cash purchases in a notebook. You also can find a spending plan or money management software program that can help organize spending by category.

 

4. Chart a course. Set financial goals–long term and short term–and figure how much money you’ll need for each. Create a target saving and spending plan that meets needs using your list of income expenses. For a month or more, track actual spending to see how you’re doing, making changes as necessary.

 

5. Brush up on money management basics. Contact or visit us for more information about how to save and spend finances wisely.

How to Save Money While You’re a Student

 

Money might be tight when you’re in college, but it’s not impossible to find ways to save. Here are some simple ideas.

 

Budget

It’s smart to create a spending plan so you know where and how you’re spending your money. If you don’t know where your money is going, it’s impossible to know what to cut back on. Too many dinners out with friends and an unexpected book you have to buy for class may find you short on cash at the end of the month.

 

Food

Prepping meals at home can save you a lot of money. One meal out can cost as much as one cooked meal and the leftovers for two more meals. Never go grocery shopping when you’re hungry. Stock up on sale items you can easily store or freeze to save time and money.

 

Textbooks

Before you go out and buy the newest copy of each book for your classes, shop around. Look for used versions of textbooks or rent them if possible. Sometimes you even can find textbooks at the library. If you have to buy a textbook at full price, take good care of it so you can sell it back at the end of the semester.

 

Entertainment

Having fun inexpensively while in college should never be a problem. Instead of spending money on entertainment, check out the free events your campus has to offer—concerts, movies, speakers, sporting events. Stay in shape with the free fitness classes or intramural sports offered at your school’s recreational center. Lastly, ditch your cable—watch shows and movies online or borrow them from the library.

 

Copyright 2017 Credit Union National Association Inc. Information subject to change without notice. For use with members of a single credit union. All other rights reserved.

The 3 Things You Need to Know Before You Buy a New Car

 

There are many things to consider before purchasing ANY car, but a NEW car might spark particular questions. There are pros and cons to buying new cars, just as there are pros and cons to buying used cars.

 

First off, when purchasing any vehicle, ask yourself “Why am I buying this car?” Is it for daily use, will you need a lot of storage space, seating space? Make sure the makes and models you narrow your search down to are practical reflections of how you will use the car.

 

You may love the look of a larger vehicle, but if you don’t have five children, you might not need that much space and that particular car may not be right for your daily commute and errands.

 

After you’ve considered the personal aspects of which car to buy, move on to the less subjective parts of the process:

 

1. Depreciation Most cars depreciate at about 15% per year. With new cars, there is a 20% depreciation rate as soon as you drive off the lot. You want to consider this before you decide to buy a new car, especially if you can’t put much money down as a down payment. Chances are you’ll be upside down on your car loan almost immediately if you’re  financing the entire cost.

 

2. Cost-to-own Also, consider the true cost to own the car you’re eyeing. These costs include insurance, fuel,  maintenance, and more. Maintenance costs vary by manufacturer and model. Do your research—some manufacturers have better reputations than others. Some new cars even come with “free” maintenance plans for the first couple of years or for a certain number of miles.

 

3. How much can you afford? Don’t guide yourself solely by what the dealership is willing to lend you. And, don’t be blindsided by an attractive low monthly payment—oftentimes tied to a super-long loan term. Consider all aspects of financing—the total amount you are going to end up paying for that vehicle when it’s all said and done. That’s what matters.

 

Visit Cy-Fair Federal Credit Union before you even step on the lot. As a not-for-profit financial cooperative, we can approve you for an auto loan that fits your circumstances—and your budget. We won’t put you into a loan you can’t afford, and we’re happy to explain everything to you away from the high-pressure of the dealership.