Cash Flow Budgeting: A Fast, Flexible Way to Fix Your Finances

You’ve heard it from a million places: Budget your money! Make a firm plan and stick with it. It’s the pathway to prosperity!

For many people, though, that advice just doesn’t resonate. They feel constricted by a budget. Keeping cash in separate envelopes makes them feel like they can’t have a life. It takes too much planning and too much rigid denial. They break their budget and sometimes wind up in serious financial trouble.

Other people have an inconsistent cash flow, making creating and keeping a budget difficult. Maybe they’re freelancers who work gig-to-gig. Maybe they’re in commissioned sales. Maybe their hours fluctuate from month to month. Whatever the reason, it’s hard to make a detailed plan when your bottom line changes every month.

The answer isn’t to give up on budgeting. The collective wisdom, that monitoring your expenses and income streams is the way to stability, still holds true. It might just require a different approach to budgeting: cash flow focus.

Cash flow focus is the strategy used by most businesses. They pay their fixed costs, and whatever is left is used to grow the business. You can manage your finances the same way. Just follow these four steps:

1. Automate your savings. Even if you disregard everything else in this article, implementing this one tip can be life-changing. Figure out how much of your income you can save, and then take that out as soon as you get paid. You can set up monthly transfers from your draft account to your savings account. You can also divide the money between the accounts on a per deposit basis. How you choose to do so is less important than doing so.

Like the saying goes, pay yourself first. This savings provides you the flexibility to cover big expenses or make major purchases on your schedule. It’s the single most important step in any budget, but it’s even more important with cash flow budgeting.

When you automate your savings, you remove the money you saved from consideration. You can’t spend it; you’ve already spent it on savings. The importance of this kind of savings will become more clear once you see this budget in action.

2. Pay your needs and your priorities. Make a list of your essential expenses each month. Include your rent or house payment, your car loan, and your utilities. Also include your student loan payments, your insurance, and other necessary expenses. These are your “fixed costs.” They get paid after your savings contributions are made.

Next, make a list of your priorities. Include your charitable contributions, vacation savings, and retirement account contributions. These are your “growth expenses.” They get paid after your fixed costs.

If you don’t have enough money to make these bills, you don’t need a better budget. You need to lower those bills or increase your income. No amount of spreadsheet magic will change that bottom line.

It’s helpful to automate savings for these expenses, too. That way, you never get caught short on these bills. Transferring this money to a check-only draft account can be a helpful way to ensure you don’t spend it.

3. Spend the leftovers. This message may sound peculiar for personal finance advice. Remember, though, that you’ve already automated your savings. What you’re spending here is the leftovers – the extra that’s left at the end of the month.

 Spend this money however you like – don’t worry about putting this much in entertainment and that much in travel. Just keep track of how much you’ve spent so you don’t accidentally overdraft your account.

This approach allows you to go out or indulge in a latte. You don’t have to worry about including it in your budget. Your spending habits might change as the month goes on, just like a business. If you know there’s a big outing before you get paid again, you may want to save some money for that. You don’t need to say that you can’t go because you didn’t budget for it.

4. Roll over what’s left. If you have worked in a big business, then you have seen departments desperately spending at the end of the fiscal year. Departments buy cases of pens and paper, knowing that they will lose whatever they don’t spend. Fortunately, you’re more flexible than a big business. You don’t have to spend it all. If you have money left over at the end of the month, then you have more to spend the next month.

If you have a month with slightly higher expenses, you can cover it from a previous month’s slightly lower expenses. Your spending will change from month to month, as might your income. So long as you keep the former smaller than the latter in the long run, you’ll be fine.

That’s what cash flow budgeting is about: flexibility. You don’t have to write your non-budgeted spending purposes in stone. You don’t have to mess with cash envelopes or other strategies. You can spend when you have money and save for when you don’t.

DoverPhila Federal Credit Union can help if you’re thinking about adopting a budget. A friendly, knowledgeable financial counselor can walk you through the savings tools you need. You can automate your savings, flex your spending, and build toward financial security. Members can call 330-364-8874 or stop by the credit union’s main office on Fillmore Avenue in Dover for more information.

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.

DoverPhila Wins Times-Reporter 2017 Readers’ Choice Awards

DoverPhila Federal Credit Union is pleased to announce that it has won first place in the Best Bank, Best Mortgage Lender, Best Financial Services, and Best Financial Institution categories for the Times-Reporter 2017 Readers’ Choice Awards.

There roughly 3,000 registered voters and over 170,000 total votes during the Readers’ Choice Awards’ voting process. DoverPhila Federal Credit Union would like to thank everyone who voted in these categories.

“We are truly grateful and excited to be a part of the Times-Reporter Readers’ Choice Awards. There are some excellent financial institutions serving this area so receiving the titles of Best Bank, Best Financial Institution, Best Mortgage Lender, and Best Financial Services of 2017 means a lot to us,” said Jack Dooling, Chief Executive Officer and President of DoverPhila Federal Credit Union.  “This credit union was formed over 60 years ago and our mission has always been to build community while providing the best financial services and products to our members. Knowing that our members believe that we are doing exactly that, gives us a sense of pride in the work we do.”

The annual Readers' Choice Awards celebrates the best businesses, organizations, people, and more through votes of area residents. The awards are put on by The Times-Reporter, a GateHouse Media Inc. publication that is published daily in New Philadelphia, Ohio. For more information, visit www.timesreporter.com.

DoverPhila has been proudly serving the financial needs of members who live, work, and attend church or school in Tuscarawas County since 1953. It has offices in Dover, New Philadelphia, Newcomerstown, and Uhrichsville.

Your Life Goals, Are Our Life Goals

If there’s ever a time that "millennials" need cooperatives, it's now. 

The last ten years have been quite transformational for this generation of young adults. Younger millennials just graduating college likely saw their parents lose jobs, benefits, and pensions while bank executives lost nothing. According to a study by Filene Research Institute, millennials make about as much (rather, as little) as previous generations, but factor in the average student loan debt of $27,000 and that take home pay is quickly eaten up. 

Despite that, millennials are principled and they maintain an optimistic outlook about their financial future with life goals and financial goals are entwined. If you are looking to firm up yours, a credit union – which is a not-for-profit financial cooperative that offers the same services as a bank – is a smarter choice. 

Here are some ways DoverPhila Federal Credit Union can help you achieve your life goals. 

If you value open membership without boundaries, DoverPhila is for you. 
When you opened your first bank account, did you have to deposit some ridiculous amount of money or risk getting hit with a $5 monthly fee? At the credit union, you only have to deposit a minimum of $5. That money is a "share" in the company instead of money that is invested in high-risk securities. Anyone who works, worships, or attends school in Tuscarawas County is eligible for membership. Once you become a member, we gladly extend our credit union membership perks to any member of your immediate family.

If you value cooperation instead of competition, a credit union is for you.
Why should you have to suffer because your bank does not have ATMs everywhere? A $4 fee here and there really adds up. You should not have to spend $24 to withdraw $20 – that’s a rip-off! Instead, grab your smart phone, download the Co-Op ATM app, and find a free ATM or shared branch to conduct your business. As everyone knows, life is a little better when you work together instead of making everything a competition. 

If you value education, training and information, a credit union is DEFINITELY for you.
We exist for the financial benefit of our members and to provide a level of service that meets our members’ financial needs. At DoverPhila Federal Credit Union, our members receive valuable services the moment they need them and more!

A credit union can help you affect change in your community and life. Whether it is an auto loan, a mortgage, a personal loan, or a credit card, credit unions are simply a smarter choice. Experience the DoverPhila difference today by stopping by any of our five locations.

DoverPhila Continues to Give Back While Enhancing Products and Services

As another successful year comes to an end, DoverPhila Federal Credit Union continues to strive in the financial industry. This is apparent through its ability to give back to its members while also building community.

DoverPhila was able to give back $1.1 million to its members in the form of bonus dividends and interest rebates. It also continued its “people helping people” mindset through numerous sponsorships that included Union Hospital’s Run for Home half-marathon, United Way of Tuscarawas County’s Color Us United 2k and Rock ‘n Run 5k, East Central Ohio ESC’s Family Reading Festival, and Tuscarawas County Public Library Bookin’ It 5k Walk/Run. The credit union also donated to area organizations and community projects such as Friends of the Homeless of Tuscarawas County, Rainbow Connection, Tuscarawas Clinic for the Working Uninsured, Leader’s Edge Anti-Virus Youth Character Education program, New Philadelphia Rotary Club’s enhancement project for the pond at Tuscora Park, Trinity Hospital Twin City’s cardiac unit expansion, and many more.

Along with giving back to its members and community, DoverPhila also executed new services such as the EMV “chip” card through Elan Financial Services, mobile purchasing, mechanical breakdown insurance from Vision Warranty Corporation, and email marketing communications.

As 2017 begins, some key objectives for the year are to continue to improve both online and in-house lending processes, to expand mobile services, and to enhance member communications all while maintaining the safety and soundness of the credit union. 

DoverPhila Federal Credit Union is excited to welcome 2017 as it continues to serve and meet the needs of its members while building community.