It’s January and the fun of the holiday season is over. Then, the credit card bills arrive, and we are forced back to reality. Don’t stress…we’re here to help!
First, let’s review the obvious credit card balance-reduction tips:
- Make a lump-sum payment – put that year-end bonus to use!
- Pay more than the minimum due – even if it is a few extra dollars, they will add up!
- Prioritize your payments – pay off those higher-interest-rate cards first!
- Transfer your balances – transfer your balance to a card with a lower interest rate.
- Don’t wait – take a few minutes to review your finances ASAP!
Next, you might want to research financial guidance websites, including Heartland Bank’s Learning Center, to put your worries behind you and avoid credit card debt next holiday season.
Finally, we have just a few quick-tips that you might consider if your research time is limited:
Set up a dedicated holiday savings account for next year. You can have a small amount automatically deducted from your checking account and deposited into this holiday savings account once a month. Pretend it’s not there and let it build!
To be successful in managing your cash flow and debts, you need to have an accurate picture of both your income and your expenses. To get the necessary clear picture, you will need to scrutinize your paycheck stub and track your expenses in comparison to your available income – mortgage or rent, household bills, insurance, groceries, gas, incidentals, etc.
When looking at your income, make sure that the income tax you have taken out of your pay is just enough to cover your liability. Having too much taken out can mean "lending" the government money at no interest, and having too little deducted might lead to underpayment penalties.
On the expense side, you should have gathered as much information as possible about your monthly expenses. If you've kept an expense record, tally up weekly and monthly figures. If you haven't kept an expense record, get out your checkbook and any receipts you can find. Take inventory of what you've bought recently.
Compare your monthly expenses to your monthly income…does it balance? Do you have extra for emergencies or a holiday fund?
Ultimately, we encourage you to stop by one of our local Heartland Bank branch offices where our community bankers are always ready to assist with all your financial needs. We can also introduce you to our Heartland Planning Associates for an in-depth review of your financial goals, vision and values.