Step 1 of 12 Towards Financial Freedom: Take Stock of Your Debt

You’re determined that this will be the year you finally pay down (or pay off) that debt. Get ready, because every month, our Financial Freedom plan will have you taking another step on your journey toward living a debt-free life.

First, sit down and take stock of all your debts. Don’t let the numbers scare you; you need to do this to move forward. Get out every single credit card bill, personal loan, student loan, and any other debt you’re carrying (except your car and mortgage payments). Tally up the numbers to give yourself an idea of what you’re dealing with.

Next, organize your debt into different categories, such as credit card debt, student debt, personal loans, etc. Use a spreadsheet to list your debt, the remaining term of each loan (if applicable), the minimum payment, and the interest rate.   

Finally, designate one hour each week for working on your finances. DoverPhila Federal Credit Union has simple tools and tips to help you navigate through your finances. Click here for an interactive library

Feeling overwhelmed? No worries; we’ve got you covered! Sit down with one of our free, on-staff financial counselors. They can help simplify the first step towards financial freedom. Call today at 330-364-8874.

Sticking to Financial Resolutions

Ohioans, like most Americans, entered 2019 hoping to better their finances, but many have likely already fallen off track.

In an Ohio Credit Union League 2019 consumer survey, 69 percent said their New Year’s resolution was to get on a budget. That statistic isn’t surprising; many Americans looked critically at their financial situations as they headed into 2019. Statista, a platform providing statistical data on a variety of topics, polled 2,000 people about their New Year’s resolutions in early January. The survey found financial goals were the fourth most-popular New Year’s resolution, falling just behind dieting, exercising, and losing weight. 

Americans had good intentions to get their finances in order in 2019, but that doesn’t mean they’ve necessarily stuck to their new budgets. According to research commissioned by GuideVine, a service that matches people with financial advisers, 70 percent of Americans with a budget struggle to stick to it.

And it’s not likely that making your budget a New Year’s resolution will make keeping with it any easier. According to the Ohio Credit Union League survey, 79 percent of Ohioans make incremental improvements toward keeping their resolutions each year, but fall short of keeping them. Another 14 percent have never kept a New Year’s resolution.

The average American doesn’t fare much better. According to a study of 1,450 Americans by Vitagene, 88.6 percent reported they’d likely keep their resolutions for a year or less. Another 36.6 percent of respondents said they usually keep their resolutions for a month or less, meaning they’d be off track by February.

Although your train may have gone off track, all hope is not lost. Here are some tips to help you attain your resolution of getting down to business, paying off bills, buying a house, opening an IRA for retirement, or getting on a path to better financial stability. 

  • Use a budgeting tool. A successful budget must be recorded somewhere. DoverPhila Federal Credit Union offers Banzai, an award-winning financial literacy program that has user-friendly budgeting tools such as calculators, simulated games, and an interactive library with educational articles. Consider budgeting apps such as EveryDollar and YouNeedABudget if you’re looking for more mobile options.

  • Be realistic about spending and saving. Don’t set goals you can’t realistically achieve with your budget. Trying to spend too little or save too much each month could create frustration, which will increase the likelihood that you will dump your budget altogether. Instead, map out incremental changes you can make that will add up to big financial gains over time.

  • Keep goals in mind. Reminding yourself how you would ultimately like your money to work for you can help with exercising control over impulsive spending habits. Consider making your goals visual if you have a hard time picturing your long-term goals when you are tempted to splurge. Try keeping a picture of your ideal retirement in your wallet or a list of all the reasons you want that new car stuck to the fridge. 

  • Reward yourself. It is important to keep long-term goals in mind, but rewarding yourself for small budgeting wins along the way will keep you feeling positive about your budget. The more positively you feel toward a task, the more likely you are to continue performing it. After you reach certain budgeting goals, treat yourself to a small splurge. You earned it!

  • Seek help. Consider asking for help if you are struggling with sticking to a budget. Sometimes, aid can come in the form of a family member who shares household finances. Other times, however, you may require an expert opinion. DoverPhila Federal Credit Union offers free financial counseling to members and is always happy to aid with budget set-up and maintenance.

DoverPhila Federal Credit Union is here to help you reach your financial resolutions. Call the credit union at 330-364-8874 or visit your local credit union for more information.

Why The Money Talk is Important

Despite financial education being one of the most important lessons to shape our adult lives, it is not something many people learn until much later in life. As a parent, you have many “talks” with your children, but too often the “Money Talk” isn’t one that happens until it is too late.  

Respondents in the Ohio Credit Union League’s 2018 consumer survey indicated they considered lessons from parents extremely important to a child’s financial literacy. However, research suggests that’s not happening.

In that same survey, 61 percent of respondents said they received most of their financial education through experience and life lessons. Only 23 percent felt they had received financial education from home and – surprisingly – only 3 percent of Ohioans received financial education in the classroom.

As a result, Ohio’s teens may not be graduating high school with financial know-how.

Each year, The National Financial Educators Council administers a 30-question financial literacy test to participants ages 10 and up in all 50 states. Teens in Ohio, ages 15 to 18, averaged 60.32 percent on the test. Nationally, students of the same age scored an average of 61.11 percent

Parents want their children to have a good handle on finances before they leave the house in their late teens or early 20s, but most aren’t sharing the necessary wisdom to make that happen.

In the 8th annual Parents, Kids and Money survey, conducted by T. Rowe Price, 69 percent of parents have some reluctance discussing financial matters with kids. And, 35 percent of parents rated talking to their children about family finances as either very or extremely uncomfortable – ranking it alongside talks about death and drugs. Partly, parents may feel too self-conscious about their financial situation to be comfortable sharing advice with their children. This survey also found parents who have declared bankruptcy are 24 percent more reluctant to discuss money with their kids. And, parents carrying more than $5,000 in credit card debt are 14 percent more likely to feel uneasy having those financial conversations. 

“Financial literacy” is an easy term to define, but a more difficult one to put into practice. Here are some tips to help you equip your children with a bright financial future:

  • Set an example. Children who consistently see their parents pay the bills on time and keep a budget are more likely to adopt those practices in their own lives. Parents who have made financial mistakes should also share the experience with their children. That knowledge can prepare kids to avoid the same mistakes with their money in the future.

  • Make savings a tangible concept. Encourage younger kids to collect spare change in a clear jar or container so they can see their savings grow. Each time the kids want a small treat, parents can offer to put the money they would have used to buy the treat into the “savings jar,” instead. Once the jar is full, children can count the money and use the funds to purchase an extra-special treat. That way, they’ll associate a sense of excitement with savings. They’ll learn that delaying gratification can lead to a greater payoff down the road. Also, be sure to stop by DoverPhila Federal Credit Union during Youth Week from April 16th through April 21st to earn extra saving bonuses on deposits made to their youth accounts.

  • Have kids learn with their own money. Kids will learn the value of a dollar better if it’s their own. Younger children who are paid a small allowance for chores they complete around the house will learn the concept of working for money. Kids can then begin to spend their own money on some of the things they want. They’ll begin to appreciate what these items actually cost and will be more open to lessons about price comparison.

  • Get kids familiar with banking. Parents can make a trip to their financial institution an exciting event for younger kids. Let them in on the process – maybe even let them press the buttons on the ATM or help to fill out a deposit slip. They’ll feel included in adult chores and won’t feel intimidated by banking later in life.

  • Get help. DoverPhila offers Banzai, an award-winning, web based financial literacy game, for free to its community. The credit union also offers other programs and events geared towards fostering financial literacy in kids, teens, and adults; as well as a financial counselor.

 For more information about financial literacy call the credit union at 330-364-8874.

DoverPhila Offering Award-Winning Financial Literacy Program for Free

Area residents are getting a free education in how to manage their money. DoverPhila Federal Credit Union is working with Banzai, a national award-winning financial literacy program, to make the curriculum available to the community and 10 schools in Tuscarawas County, completely free.

"Banzai is a web-based financial literacy program. Kids have their own bank accounts, and they work through assignments that are based on real life," Morgan Vandagriff, co-founder of Banzai, said. "But because DoverPhila is sponsoring it, local schools get it for free. More than ever, it's important that kids develop sound financial skills to prepare them for the real world. DoverPhila realizes that, and they're doing something about it."

Banzai is an interactive, online program supplemented by printed workbooks which aligns with state curriculum requirements for personal finance education. It has become the largest program of its kind, servicing more than 35,000 teachers and available in all 50 states.

“We’ve offered time, money, industry experience, and a variety of credit union resources to help our schools teach personal finance in the classroom,” Shana Simmons, Director of Marketing & Member Services, said. “Students using the program are exposed to real-life scenarios where they learn to pay bills and balance a budget – but it’s not always easy. Students must learn to manage unexpected expenses such as parking tickets, interest charges, and overdraft fees. The educational program also introduces students to auto loans, bank statements, entertainment costs, savings, and more.”

“Too often students get out of school and they just aren't ready for the financial roller coasters life can give us,” Vandagriff said. “Banzai teaches students to navigate those twists and turns and come out on top. We're excited to work with DoverPhila to improve financial literacy in local schools.

Those interested in using the Banzai program can click here for more information.