Upgrade your life: Tips to get ahead financially

By Jocelyn Wood, RCB Bank

I challenge you not to accept your financial life as it is. This coming year, aim to get ahead — start an emergency fund, build your retirement savings, pay off your debt or take control of whatever money situation is causing you stress.

The key to getting ahead is to get started. Here are some tips to help you make a financial change.

Invest in you

To build your wealth, start paying yourself first. When you receive money, before you spend a penny, put some of it in your savings account or retirement fund. Set up automatic deposits and watch your savings grow with little effort.

Changing your saving habits may require changing your spending habit, but the payoff – not worrying about paying your bills, taking a trip you’ve been dreaming of and retiring on your terms – is worth it.

Stop throwing money away

Paying late fees is like pulling money out of your wallet and throwing it into the wind. Start paying down debt, beginning with the highest interest debt. Pay your bills on time. If need be, call the company and see if you can adjust your due date. Never hurts to ask and it could save you from paying late fees.

Try the 50/30/20 budget plan

Harvard bankruptcy expert Elizabeth Warren suggests splitting your monthly income into three categories:

  1. Fixed expenses – survival needs – should total no more than 50 percent of your income.
  2. Non-essentials – wants like TV, morning coffee, hair appointments – should total no more than 30 percent.
  3. Savings – emergency fund, retirement – should be 20 percent or more.

Match your spending

Have a hard time sticking to a budget? Try this. Before you spend money on something you want, first put the same amount of money in a savings jar.  You will be able to see exactly how much money you are spending, or how much you could be saving or using to pay off your debt. If you cannot afford to match your spending, you cannot afford whatever it is you want to purchase.

Live within your means

Rich people stay rich by living like they are broke. It is a matter of what you value more, instant gratification or freedom from debt and having money when you really need it.

You work hard for your money. Do not waste it on things you do not really need.

50/30/20 Plan: Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi. All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan. Opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the author and meant for generic illustration purposes only. RCB Bank, member FDIC.

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Plug drainage leaks in your finances

How to boost your financial wellness

By Jocelyn Wood, RCB Bank

Money continues to be one of the top causes of stress for Americans, according to a survey released by the American Psychological Association. Researchers found that 72 percent of Americans polled reported feeling stressed about money. Financial stress also had a negative impact on their lives.

Right now, choose to simplify your money matters and boost your financial wellness.Where to begin? Start by plugging your spending leaks.

At first it’s only a little drip of cash.

Spent on morning java, lunch out or the latest and greatest must-have new gadget. Before long it is a full blown crack in your wallet, draining your savings account.

The damage can be severe, such as costing more than $15,000 in credit card debt for the average American household, according to a recent study by NerdWallet.

“It’s not easy sticking to a budget,” said Brenda Romesburg, single mom who decided to simplify her finances. “But having money in my savings for emergencies, or for when I want to take the kids to the park, to the movies or on a vacation, is absolutely worth the sacrifice.”

When Romesburg made the decision to reduce her spending, she started by going over her bills and looking for areas to make cuts.

“I changed my cell phone data plan from 8GB to 3GB,” she said. “That was a $30 savings per month ($360 a year). I can live without the internet for a few hours until I get home to my Wi-Fi.”She also called her cable company and asked about options to lower her bill.

“So I had to give up some channels,” she said, “but I’m saving an additional $20 a month ($240 a year). I found new channels to watch and now I don’t even miss the ones I had to let go.”

When it comes to spending, Romesburg asks herself daily, “Do I really need to buy this; do I have to have that?”

“I reduced eating out,” she said. “Cooking at home saves me at least $150 a month ($1,800 a year!). Sometimes it is hard sticking to my menu and only buying what is on the grocery list, but it really works. Saving money makes me feel good and puts me in control of my finances.”

Saving money doesn’t require drastic changes to your lifestyle.

Small changes on how you spend your hard-earned money add up. Take time to review your expenses and make adjustments that will not only boost your financial wellness but also your personal health and happiness.

Opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the author and meant for generic illustration purposes only.  RCB Bank, member FDIC.

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No-Stress Savings Plan

2 ways to build your wealth with little effort.

By Jocelyn Wood, RCB Bank

You want to save more money.

The truth is you can save more money.

The struggle is you want things now. Waiting is hard. Saving money requires discipline.

What if saving could be easy?

Here are two ways to build your wealth that involves little effort.

1. Set the task on auto-drive.

Direct Deposit – Ask your employer to deduct a certain amount of money from your paycheck each month and transfer it into a savings or retirement account. When you receive a pay raise, transfer that to savings too. It’s called direct deposit, and the only discipline required is initiating the process.

While you may not think you have money to set aside, you do. When money is transferred before you see your income, you’ll soon forget it. You’ll adjust to living on the money you do see. And you’ll feel less stressed when you see your savings grow. Ask your company’s human resource department for details.

2. Set up auto savings.

Auto Money Transfer – Schedule an automatic money transfer from your checking account to a savings account through your online banking or mobile banking app. Set it up to recur monthly, or weekly for faster savings.

If you’re nervous, start with a small amount. Transfer the money into an account you don’t have easy access to, no debit card, no checks.

Not convinced you have the funds? Do this. Call your cell phone and TV providers, insurance companies and others and ask how you can reduce your bills. Schedule the differences you save each month to transfer to your savings account. You can set up an automatic transfer in 10 minutes or less. Ask your bank if you need help.

Saving money is a choice.

Choose to take control of your financial well-being. Then set the cruise control.

Opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the author and meant for generic illustration purposes only. Member FDIC and Equal Housing Lender, RCB Bank NMLS #798151.

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3 ways to change your attitude about spending

Get financially fit

By Jocelyn Wood, RCB Bank

This is the year you’re going to take charge of your money. No more rationalizing overspending. No more excuses why you can’t put money into savings. No more regrets.

Everyone can save more money.

The question you have to ask yourself is what kind of life do you want? Do you want to be debt free? Do you want those new black leather boots? Do you want to retire comfortably? Do you want the newly released smartphone? Do you want to stop living paycheck to paycheck? Do you want your daily large caffe latte from your favorite coffee shop?

Saving money is a personal choice only you can decide, and making the commitment takes effort. It requires discipline and self-control, but the end result – more money in your savings, a larger down payment on a home or being debt free – is worth your diligence.

Here are three practical tips to help you change your attitude about spending and start thinking like a saver.

#1 Match your spending

If you struggle with sticking to a budget or tracking your expenses, try this: save an amount equal to whatever you spend on nonessential indulgences. If you want your morning java, put $4 in a jar. If you plan to eat lunch out, put $8 in jar. You will literally see your spending habits and potential savings.

If you can’t afford to save the matching funds, you can’t afford whatever it is you want.

#2 Remember you work hard

Before you spend your hard-earned money, take the cost of the item you want and divide it by your hourly wage. If you want a $90 pair of boots and you make $10 an hour, are those boots worth the nine hours of work?

Also, pay yourself first. That means put money aside from every paycheck into a savings or retirement account. Saving even $25 a month adds up. Set up automatic savings through a direct deposit or money transfer. You may surprise yourself how fast your savings grows when you put it on auto-pilot. Ask your bank for more information.

#3 Do not buy on impulse

Start thinking like a saver. Never purchase expensive items on impulse. Think over each purchase for at least 24 hours. During that period, do steps one and two. This will help you consider how necessary the item is that you want to buy. It will also help you have fewer regrets about purchases and more money for savings.

You don’t have to do it alone. Find someone who will help you stay on track of your savings goal. Check out AmericaSaves.org, a site dedicated to helping individuals save money, reduce debt and build wealth. You can take the savings pledge and set up text alerts to receive encouraging money saving tips targeted to your specific goal.

Also, ask your bank about products and services that offer money-management tools. Get financially fit and take charge of your money.

Photo Credits: Pam Brown and Cherise Saltmarsh
Opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the author and meant for generic illustration purposes only. Member FDIC and Equal Housing Lender, RCB Bank NMLS #798151.

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A penny earned is a penny saved

5 money lessons from grandparents

By Jocelyn Wood, RCB Bank

Every year, my granddad would sit his grandkids down at the kitchen table and pour out a big jar full of coins he’d saved. We could have these coins but only after we sorted them, divided them equally and then rolled them. As little children, it felt like hours to complete this task, but the reward was a bag full of money.

When grandparents talk, we ought to listen, especially when it comes to money. They’ve lived a lifetime earning, spending and saving money. They can teach us a thing or two about the value of a dollar and the importance of saving for a rainy day. Here’s five lessons learned from grandparents.

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