With regular practice and repetition, the following 10 habits can guide you toward a sound financial future.
1. Organize your financial information and records
Start a file for bank statements, bills, receipts, loans and tax records. Or go paperless with online banking to access all your account history. Knowing where important financial information is located will save you time and aggravation.
2. Prepare a budget
A well-defined budget suited to your specific needs will help you identify potential areas for reducing expenses. Once you know where your money is being spent, any money left over can be saved.
3. Take advantage of direct deposit
Receive your money quicker by having your employer directly deposit your paycheck into your checking or savings account. You'll eliminate worrying about lost checks, waiting in line to make deposits, or delays if you're on vacation or out of town.
4. Set up an automatic draft into savings
Arrange for a portion of your pay to be put in your savings account automatically through your bank or employer. You can't spend what you don't have available in your checking account, and you'll be on your way to saving for that vacation, car or home.
5. Participate in your employer's 401(k) program
If your employer offers a retirement plan like a 401(k), sign up! With the power of compound interest, saving just a little will really add up—and because the money is taken out of your paycheck pre-tax, you probably won't even miss it. Many employers offer matching contributions, so you're missing out on free money if you don't participate.
6. Prepare a personal balance sheet
Having a current snapshot of your net worth is a good way to keep yourself on track financially, and can be handy when you're considering applying for a loan. Over time, you'll be able to monitor your progress toward your long-term financial goals.
7. Balance your checking account regularly
Monitoring your account helps prevent overdraft fees and the embarrassment of bounced checks. To help know how much you have at all times, sign up for online banking. Set up alerts to receive important balance information.
8. Pay your bills online
It's easy, and you won't have to worry about stamps or driving to the post office to send those last-minute checks. If you have regular monthly payments, like an auto or student loan, you can set up recurring payments and they'll be paid automatically on the day of the month you choose.
9. Pay the maximum amount you can afford on your credit cards each month
Making only the minimum payment due will cost you more in interest, and it will take much longer to pay off the balance. For example, paying just $25 a month on a credit card with a balance of $3,000 and an annual percentage rate of 17% will cost you $2,241 in interest and will take you 10.5 years to pay off your balance in full!
If possible, pay the balance in full each month. To avoid unruly balances, use a debit card instead to pay for everyday expenses, and buy only what you can truly afford.
10. Check your credit score
Your credit score and history are vital to your overall financial well-being. Keeping an eye on both will help you better understand your credit. All three credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian and TransUnion—allow you to check your score for free, once every 12 months. Simply visit FreeCreditScore.com(opens in a new tab).
Interested in online banking?
8 Steps to Simplify Your Finances (Article)
Learn eight easy ways to make managing your finances less stressful.
Building a Savings Nest Egg (Article)
A financial cushion can provide future peace of mind.
Financial Planning 101 (Article)
Learn the basics of establishing a financial plan that you can start today.
The Importance of a Budget (Article)
Learn how to create a sensible budget that fits your needs.
The information provided is not intended to be legal, tax, or financial advice. BB&T hopes you find this information useful but we cannot guarantee that it is accurate, up to date, or appropriate for your situation. Financial calculators are provided to assist you in estimating the approximate costs associated with any bank activity. Your actual costs may vary. You should consult with a qualified attorney or financial advisor to understand how the law applies to your particular circumstances or for financial information specific to your personal or business situation.
Branch Banking and Trust Company, Member FDIC.
Branch Banking and Trust Company is now Truist Bank. Learn more.
BB&T and SunTrust have merged to become Truist. Both institutions will continue to offer independent product lines for a period of time. This may include differing underwriting guidelines, product features, terms, fees and pricing. Our friendly teammates at your local SunTrust branches will be happy to walk you through their respective products. You can also learn more by contacting them at 800-SUNTRUST or SunTrust.com.