Make These Small Money Moves This April to Improve Your Financial Literacy
April is Financial Literacy Month and it's a great reminder to check in and see how your money's doing. Reviewing your finances is an opportunity to see what's working (and what's not) and institute some new habits that can improve your money health.
But don't worry, you don't have to commit to a complete lifestyle overhaul. Tackling these easy money tasks in April can improve your financial literacy all year ‘round.
1. Take a Small Bite Out of Your Credit Card Debt
The upside of carrying a balance on your Barclaycard Ring™ Mastercard® is the low APR. The potential downside is that carrying a balance on any card can impact your credit score if you're using a higher percentage of your available credit. Paying off your credit cards can give your score a boost but if you can't cancel out the balance all at once, you may be able to make a difference in your score by paying off 5%-10% of what you owe.
2. Tune In to a Financial Podcast
There are thousands of books on how to improve your financial health, but if you're constantly on the go, you may not have time to read them all. A podcast, on the other hand, can be enjoyed while you're at the gym, driving to work or waiting in line to pick up the kids from school.
If you're not sure which podcast to tune in to, here are a few recommendations:
- So Money with Farnoosh Torabi- Topics include money, work and career improvement
- Stacking Benjamins- A fun spin on personal finance, covering everything from basic budgeting to more advanced money topics
- Radical Personal Finance- Learn how to build wealth, become financially independent and plan for life's major changes
- Good Financial Cents– Down- to- earth advice on retirement and investment planning
- Side Hustle Nation- Weekly chats with experts on how to grow your side hustle and your income
3. Check Your Credit Report and Scores
When it comes to credit, what you don't know can hurt you. In a 2017 NerdWallet survey, 12 percent of Americans said they'd never checked their credit scores. Roughly half weren't aware that bad credit could affect how much they pay for utility deposits or their ability to get cell phone service.
Free FICO® Credit Score access is included with the Ring Mastercard and you can get free access to your credit reports through AnnualCreditReport.com. It takes just a few minutes to pull your reports and check them for accuracy. If you spot an error, remember to dispute it with the credit bureau that's reporting it. Equifax, Experian and TransUnion all allow you to initiate disputes online.
4. Raise Your Savings Rate by 1%
How prepared are you for a financial emergency? What about retirement? More than 60 percent of Americans don't have enough in savings to cover a $1,000 emergency, according to a Bankrate survey. Another survey from GoBankingRates found that 42 percent of Americans are on track to retire broke because they're not saving enough.
But there may be a simple solution.
Say you're 35 years old, making $60,000 a year. You contribute 6 percent to your 401(k) annually and you have a balance of $50,000. At that rate, you'd have just over $780,000 saved by age 65, assuming a 7 percent annual return. But, if you bump your contributions up by 1 percent each year, to a maximum of 15 percent, you'd have over $1.2 million by the time you retire. That's a huge payoff for a relatively small shift in your savings strategy.
5. Track Your Spending
Having a plan for spending and saving is critical for your financial health. Making a budget or spending plan and sticking to it is a lot tougher when you don't know what's going out each month.
Downloading a budgeting app that syncs with your bank and credit card accounts is a simple solution. Mint is a popular choice for tracking spending and budgeting while Personal Capital offers a holistic look at your finances. As you compare apps, remember to check the pricing and features to find one that fits your needs and budget.
6. Set Up Bill (and Savings) Alerts
One late payment to a credit card or loan can affect your credit. Setting up payment reminders with your bank or through your credit card account helps you stay on top of your due dates.
Alerts can also help you get in the savings habit if that's something you've been struggling with. Pick a day of the month that you want to make a deposit into savings. Then, schedule that date as a bill payment due date using your bank's alert settings so you have a reminder to save.
7. Review Your Bank Fees
Did you know that the typical checking account will cost you almost $100 in fees per year? Between overdraft fees, maintenance fees and ATM fees, you could be throwing thousands of dollars away over your banking lifetime.
Set aside a few minutes to review your bank's fee schedule and check your statements. If you're being nickel and dimed, consider making the switch to a lower cost bank. Many banks, including online banks, offer switch kits that make the process quick and as painless as possible.
Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference
Becoming more financially literate doesn't have to be overwhelming. These tips show that doing small things can impact your finances positively in a big way. One final tip: Consider planning monthly check-ins to make sure you're staying on top of your money game.
All content provided in this blog is supplied by Rebecca Lake and is for informational purposes only. Barclaycard makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information contained in the blog or found by following any link within this blog.