Mistakes that should be avoided in your everyday finances.
I have worked in banking for a little over 4 years and I have worked for different banks too. Within my tenure, I learned quite a bit. I want to share what I have witnessed and learned throughout my experience.
This time around, I want to provide tips on how to improve your overall financial health.
Your Income is Your Most Powerful Wealth Building Tool
You work hard for your money. Your money should be going into your bank account on payday and staying there. Only departing from your bank account when you decide, not because some creditor is expecting a high interest payment. The only way to build wealth is by saving and investing your income for retirement. If your income is tied up between living expenses, car loans, mortgage, student loans and credit card debt, then guess what? Unless you are making a high monthly income, you may not have enough money to build your wealth for your future. Majority, if not all your money, is leaving your bank account rather quickly.
Stay Away from Credit Card Debt
Credit Cards are a tool to make purchases with security and earn some points for it too along the way. I have a variety of credit cards that I use for different purposes. I have one main credit card that I use for my daily purchases such as food and gas or miscellaneous. However, I do NOT carry balances. You may be wondering what that exactly means. This means that when I am going to make a purchase, I am ready to make the full payment when the monthly statement generates. Avoiding a monthly balance, I avoid unnecessary interest that needs to be paid to the banks. That money stays with me and is used towards other ideas that help me move in the right direction. Working at the bank I saw way too many people with high unnecessary credit card debt.
Credit is King
Protect your credit. Working as a personal banker was something that I really enjoyed because not only was I able learn alot, but I was able to help people. There were so many opportunities where clients needed my help in cleaning up their financial picture, but they didn’t have the credit to qualify for anything that I could offer to them. Banks have a lot to offer their clients. The only requirement is that you need to qualify for those goodies. If you do not have your credit score in good standing, you can’t take advantage of much. Credit Bureaus are only making the standards to hold Excellent Credit Scores even harder.
Improve your Credit Score
If you currently have established credit and are not too informed on what your credit score is, then I highly recommend you go look into this. There is a great application called Credit Karma that I use for myself. When I worked at the bank, I saw alot of clients using it too. If you don’t have this app installed on your phone, then I recommend you go get that now. I have used it for roughly 7 years now and I have never had any issues. This creates a benchmark for your credit health and you can begin to stay on top of it.
A quick and effective way to quickly make a significant improvement on your credit score is paying down debt. Write down all of your debts on a piece of paper, or if you prefer to use an Excel spreadsheet. This will help you gain some perspective on where you stand. Pay off your smallest debts first. Then use the money that you now have available from paying those smaller debts off, and pay your bigger debts. This is called the “snow ball effect” and can be very effective. For more information, Google “Dave Ramsey.” He has a plethora of information available to help with your finances.
There is a lot of confusion behind debt consolidation. There are a lot of people who advise to stay clear of debt consolidation. I disagree on this. Working in banking you learn a lot about financial health and you see a lot of people’s financial picture. When you have the opportunity to see things from this perspective, you begin to see the value behind it. You may be thinking to yourself “the banks want you to sell this to people.” This is true. But, it is one of those products that really bring value. Let me explain.
Debt consolidation in a nutshell, is obtaining a loan for the amount of the credit card balances that you owe. Let’s use $5,000 as an example. With that loan of $5,000, you pay off all those credit cards that you owe and you make one payment to the new loan. The value behind this is two fold. First, a personal loan has a much lower interest rate than your traditional credit cards. Secondly, you now only have to worry about making one single payment versus five different credit cards. I have saved a lot of clients with this one product working at the banks. Believe me, when you sit down and do the math, and you see how much money you will save, along with the convenience of sending one monthly payment, you will see the value quickly.
Don’t Overspend On a Vehicle
In reviewing clients credit history, this is probably the biggest mistake that people make. A vehicle takes you from point A to point B. That is its primary purpose. So why do we go and spend $40,000 on a car? We are paying a $600 car payment not to mention an average 5% interest. This means that every month $600 are leaving your bank account into someone else’s pocket.
Instead, seek a more economical option. Instead, seek a car that you can pay in cash. Everybody knows that purchasing a car is one of the worst things you can do with your money. Cars depreciate too quickly, easily leaving you upside down. If you need a loan to purchase a vehicle, that is completely understandable and there is nothing wrong with that. Just don’t purchase something you don’t need. Purchase a vehicle that leaves you with a low monthly payment and flexibility to pay it off ahead of time. A good rule of thumb is to stay at or below 10% of your annual gross income on a monthly car payment.
Remember that your income is your most powerful wealth building tool. You want as little money as possible leaving your bank account to a creditors pocket. What you want to do instead is, keep your hard earned money and lay your head down at night and know that you don’t owe anybody anything. You work hard for yourself and your family. Your money should come into your bank account and stay with you until you decide to move it to where you want it to grow. Financial freedom should be the goal and you won’t be able to achieve that making monthly payments to debtors.