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.

Surviving the Holidays with Your Sanity Intact

With crowded stores and an ever-growing list of people to shop for, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and to overspend on your holiday shopping. No worries, though; we’ve got you covered! Read on for pre-and post-holiday tips and have yourself a jolly December without breaking the bank.

 6 Pre-Holidays Tips

1. Revise your gift list
Chances are, lots of the people you exchange gifts with would be relieved to be taken off your list. Talk to co-workers and acquaintances about just exchanging cards this year, or make a deal to only exchange homemade or inexpensive gifts. This way, you can focus on buying special gifts for those closest to you instead of generic gifts for everyone you’ve ever met.

2. Organize a Yankee Swap or Secret Santa
Still got a mile-long list? Try one of these creative solutions! A Yankee Swap or a Secret Santa activity saves money and stress while adding a bit of intrigue to any party. Everyone involved only needs to bring a single gift – and it’s always fun. Set a reasonable price cap on gifts so no one walks out with a candy cane while the person next to them hauls off a flat-screen TV.

3. Bake holiday treats
Reduce the financial weight of the season by whipping up your own holiday treats instead of buying gifts. It’s hard to find the perfect gift, but no one turns down a tin of homemade holiday cookies!

4. Make a budget and stick to it
We all plan to stick to a budget this holiday season – make this the year it really happens. Set an absolute limit to how much you will spend on the holidays.  This will encourage you to plan your spending rather than grabbing impulse items as you shop.

5. Make use of holiday deals….but don’t get distracted
When prices drop, we sometimes go wild, snatching up random items because we don’t want to miss out on those “crazy, low holiday prices.” Make use of these deals by buying items on your list at a discounted price – but don’t buy things you don’t need.

6. Rethink giving
Instead of running to the mall again, think of other ways you can give that will make the world a better place and truly brighten someone’s holiday. It’s the perfect time of year to volunteer at local soup kitchens, homeless shelters and charity organizations.

2 Post-Holiday Tips

1. Use those gift cards
Gift cards are a typical holiday gift, but they’re often forgotten and unused. Put your gift cards in your wallet and spend them creatively.  If you’re not a fan of on-the-go coffee, use your Starbucks gift card to pick up ground coffee beans to use at home.  Rent a movie with your iTunes card.  Whatever it might be, just use those gift cards!

2. Re-gift
You’ll probably wind up with a bunch of gifts you don’t want.  Hold onto them; many gifts can be re-gifted next year or used as birthday gifts throughout the year.