5 Ways I Changed my Financial Wellbeing in 2018
As 2018 comes to a close, most of us look back on what we accomplished and what lies ahead in 2019. For me, this year was one of big changes, and one of the best ones was taking key intentional steps towards financial peace of mind.
Let me preface this blog with this disclaimer: this isn’t financial advice. What works for me might not work for you. What I’ve learned this year about financial wellness is that it’s much more attainable than I ever thought. I started the year in a lot of debt, with no foreseeable plan to escape it. These steps are just the beginning of my personal journey, but if your financial habits are anything like mine were—ahem, not great—then maybe this will give you the encouragement you need to believe that wellness isn’t that far out of reach.
1. I became a member of CommunityAmerica.
This was a big step for me, because it opened up doors I never had before. As a new employee, I obviously wanted to walk the walk, but the benefits were too great to pass up. Member discounts, financial advising, better rates were all things I could really get on board with. But honestly, the perk that really put me over the edge was finding out your financial institution can care about you. I came from a Big Bank, and I had no relationship with them. I didn’t care about their products any more than they cared about my accounts. But I hear from members all the time about how they feel like they’re really heard here; and I obviously feel that way too!
2. I started budgeting.
Have you ever heard the theory that you are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with? When I moved here, I didn’t know many people so I was with my coworkers more than anyone else. And they all have budgets and strong financial habits. I was a routine online banking checker – meaning I would look online, see if I had the money, and if yes, I’d spend. If no, I wouldn’t. Or I’d charge it.
I quickly learned how important budgeting is, AND how easy. So I built my own budget, wrote this blog about how to do it, and I’ve happily stuck to it ever since.
3. I consolidated my debt.
The thing about an English degree is that it isn’t exceptionally lucrative while you’re in school. While that path eventually led me to my dream job, the years between then and now were littered with student loans and lots of credit card debt. Each month I was completely overwhelmed by all the payments, who I should pay first, should I make the minimum payment or should I pay more, etc. So I decided to combine all my debt into one personal loan at a lower interest rate and more reasonable, manageable monthly payment. That was hugely helpful for my financial stress.
4. I opened a CD.
This was a really easy, organic option for me. I was working on a piece about our Certificate of Deposit (CD) products, and as I was writing it, I thought to myself, This is a pretty great way to save. I set up an automatic transfer into the account so I save myself (pun intended) from spending that money. Now I can just watch it grow.
5. I talked to a financial advisor.
Prior to becoming a CommunityAmerican, I thought to have a financial advisor, I needed to be a fabulously wealthy person adorned with furs and two vacation homes. Well, maybe not that extravagant, but definitely someone who has more money than I actually do. However, financial advising is for anyone with financial goals. I talked to one of our qualified advisors about my hopes to save for a house and she helped me get a five year plan into motion.
As we move full-speed-ahead toward 2019, I’m going to evaluate my financial goals for the new year now that I’ve had such a good year of baby steps in 2018. If you have financial goals in mind, don’t be afraid to ask for help!