Jumpstart your financial success.

Top tips for starting 2024 off right.

An excellent way to improve your financial situation is to periodically evaluate spending patterns and find ways to save money. Saving money begins with clear financial goals and a well-supported plan to achieve those goals. A good way to develop your "financial fitness" starts with comparing income versus outgoing expenses.

Applying this information, along with some of our recommended financial habits, can help you reach your goals and enhance your economic well-being.

1. Set financial goals:

Outline your financial objectives for the year. Goals provide direction and focus, whether it's building an emergency fund, paying off debt, or saving for your next vehicle.

2. Create (or revisit) your budget:

Assess your income and expenses. Set aside money for essentials, savings, and discretionary spending on a regular basis. Budgeting apps or spreadsheets are great tools to help track and manage your finances effectively; plus, they may reveal findings that easily yield quick results like canceling unused subscriptions or eating out less often.

3. Save consistently:

This should be a non-negotiable part of your financial plan. Consistency is the key to reaching your goals, and it's easy when utilizing tools that automate transfers to a separate savings account. If the funds never land in your general spending account, you won't "generally" spend them.

4. Pay down debt strategically:

Prioritize paying off those high-interest debts first to reduce overall interest payments. Explore strategies like the debt snowball or avalanche method to tackle debts systematically.

5. Save time and money with Auto Pay!

Auto Pay is a convenient and secure way to pay your bills automatically. It saves you time and hassle, as you don't have to remember due dates, write checks, or log in to online accounts. Auto Pay can also help you avoid late fees rolling into future balances that can up faster than you may realize. It’s easy to set up and makes such a positive impact on your life - avoid delinquency, ease your mind, avoid stress, and spend time and money on the things that matter most to you.

6. Sign up for e-statements and easy, online 24-hour account access!

Keeping track of transactions and account activity can prove invaluable during decision-making moments when you need the information close at hand (i.e., making extra payments, early payoff, purchasing/leasing additional vehicles, etc.). SFS customers always have the option to sign up for e-statements.

7. Monitor your credit score!

Regularly reviewing your credit report keeps you current on any errors or inaccuracies that may be reporting negatively. You can get one free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) every 12 months (www.annualcreditreport.com).

Note: Federal law requires each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies - Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion - to give you a free credit report every 12 months if you ask for it. They also make it easy to accomplish many credit-related tasks right from your computer.

Annual Credit Report.com - Home Page

8. Know your true buying power:

Remember that in today's economic climate, credit score is king. Not only is it essential to know your score, but the fundamental knowledge lies in the components used to calculate that score.

  • Payment history
  • Amount owed
  • Length of credit history
  • New credit
  • Credit mix

9. Build an emergency fund:

Unexpected expenses can arise anytime. Aim to build an emergency fund that covers 3-6 months' worth of living expenses. This safety net can protect you during unforeseen circumstances.

10. Maximize retirement contributions:

Take advantage of employer-sponsored retirement plans like 401(k)s or individual retirement accounts (IRAs). Aim to contribute at least enough to receive the maximum employer match.

11. Educate yourself:

Financial literacy is critical to making informed decisions that support your financial goals, and SFS believes in providing educational materials and insights that support customers before, during, and after a vehicle loan or lease by providing online resources and a detailed set of FAQs built around dealership encounters and customer feedback. Additionally, we encourage all consumers and customers to invest time in educational resources that further their personal finance knowledge. A knowledgeable customer is an empowered customer.

12. Seek professional advice if needed:

For some, navigating finances can seem overwhelming. If this is the case, a financial advisor can prove invaluable by providing personalized guidance based on your unique situation and goals. They'll help you establish a road map to get you on your way.

For some folks, the start of a new year presents an excellent opportunity to take control of finances and steer them in a positive direction. By visiting your goals regularly and evaluating the financial support tools at your disposal, you can implement these financial tips and cultivate healthy money habits that create a path toward a more secure and prosperous future.

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