Royal Credit Union: Starting Fresh in the New Year
with tips and advice from RCU, 2021 could be your best financial year yet
We’re heading into a new year – with new opportunities to get your family’s books in order, make some money moves, and develop a rock-solid financial foundation for the future. Thankfully, our friends at Royal Credit Union are here to help make sure your family is taken care of with money tips, expert guidance, and positivity. We recently connected with Cooper Larson, the Community Financial Education Coordinator at Royal and co-host of the credit union’s brand new Money Donuts Podcast. On the podcast, she talks financial tips and – perhaps most importantly – donuts. (Maple long johns, anyone?) We wanted to get some solid money advice for local families in 2021, and Cooper was happy to help!
Chippewa Valley Family: After a year that’s been so tough for people financially, can you give us a few smart money tips local families can start as we kick off 2021?
Cooper Larson: My best tip is to keep it simple. 2020 has been a challenge, but handling your finances doesn’t need to be if you stick to the basics.
- Know your total income. If you don’t know what you’re earning you won’t know if you are overspending.
- Keep track of your spending. Unless you know where your money is going you can’t gain control of it. Tracking your bills and purchases is key to creating your financial plan.
- Build up your emergency fund. Aim to have 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses saved.
- Don’t cut out all the fun. Budgets aren’t meant to restrict you, they are meant to keep your financial goals on track.
- Make payments on time. If you can’t make a payment on time, contact your creditor to make a plan. Late payments are the number one factor that hurts your credit score.
Lots of people make New Year’s Resolutions to get their money in order every year. Any good suggestions for simple goals people should have when it comes to their finances? Stuff they can keep in mind and practice all throughout the year?
The number one thing people should be doing all year is paying themselves first. Figuring out what you can afford to put in savings from each paycheck is key. Best practice is to have both an emergency fund and a set aside savings account. Your emergency fund should have at least $1000 with a goal to build up to 3-6 months’ of income and expenses covered. Additionally, your set aside savings account can be used for those things that you know are going to come up like new tires, taxes, a vacation, or kid’s activity fees.
In your mind, what are some of the most useful resources that RCU provides for working families to plan for their financial future?
Royal has so many useful resources!
- Money Donuts Podcast. We cover a wide range of financial topics will providing some laughs as well. Listen on your favorite platform or at www.rcu.org/podcast
- Money Talk | Tips, Tricks & Tools Facebook group
- Virtual education hub on our website www.rcu.org/virtual-education
- Free Financial Reviews! Schedule an appointment at www.rcu.org
- A variety of helpful financial calculators at www.rcu.org/calculators
It’s certainly a balancing act to keep up a good budget during times like this. Especially when considering saving up for college, or a house, investing, planning for retirement, working – all while trying to keep the ship afloat. What’s your advice for families trying to make it all work?
- While it might not seem like you can do it all prioritizing is going to be key.
- SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely) goals to keep you on track towards the future.
- Evaluate your budget. Look for ways to find savings in your budget by using coupons, club rewards, cutting out the non-essentials, shopping at thrift stores, or selling items that you no longer need or use.
- Sit down with an expert. Royal has financial counselors in all offices who offer free financial reviews. They can help evaluate your budget, talk about refinancing, and get you on track.
Bouncing off that last question, what are some smart ways families can build a strong financial foundation that can weather challenging times in the world, as well as big changes in family life as kids grow up?
- Understand and manage your cash flow. Know how much money is coming in each month and know where it is going.
- Create a budget and stick to it. This means not giving up, and reevaluating as needed so that your budget works for you.
- Pay yourself first. Aim for saving 10% of your earnings each month.
- Make payments on time. Missing payments can lead to extra fees and lower your credit score.
- Plan ahead. Be proactive and not reactive when thinking about your family’s future.
Royal is all about local vibes and making sure the people here in our community are making good money moves, and securing their finances. What are the advantages of being local, as compared to more national banks? Why should people make the switch to a credit union?
When you are part of a credit union you are part owner of the financial. That means that the profits are paid back to you in the form of lower loan rates, higher savings rates and little to no fees. Credit unions invest back into their communities, so being part of Royal is you helping make a difference right where you live, learn, work, and play. As a credit union, personalized decisions for you and your family are made as a result of the strong relationship you form with your financial. We care about doing what’s best for our members and helping you achieve your financial goals. After all, Royal’s core purpose is to “create a positive impact in the lives we touch.”
ROYAL CREDIT UNION
Locations throughout Chippewa Valley