How to Create Good Money Habits in Difficult Times

How to Create Good Money Habits in Difficult Times

July 10, 2020

Tagged As: Personal

As the current state of the economy and job market shows us, learning the core values of how to save and manage your money are more important than ever. Here are four ways you can start building your savings and establish good money habits – even in the midst of difficult times.

1. Set a Budget

Having to maintain a budget can seem restrictive, but it’s actually one of the best ways to achieve financial independence and security – especially during economic downturns that could threaten your livelihood. The first step to creating your budget is to keep track of how much and where you spend your money. Subtract regular payments like rent, auto loans, cell phone bills, food, and any other expenses from your income. Use your budget to figure out how much money you are spending in each category. Be sure to set aside money for your savings as well. There are many online budget programs available to help you stay on track financially, and if you’re a Hills Bank Online user, you can set a budget with Manage My Finances. Simply log in and click Manage My Finances in the left navigation, select Budget, and add as many Spending Targets as you’d like.

2. Be Careful With Your Credit

Credit cards can be a lifeline for those who lose their jobs or other sources of income, allowing them to pay for the essentials without having to cough up cash on the spot. And while it is good to build up credit by using a credit card, be sure you aren’t accumulating more debt than you can afford to pay. Many Americans have found themselves in dire financial straits because they relied too heavily on credit cards for their finances. With changes to the credit score formula coming later this year, it’s a great time to put yourself on the right financial footing by paying off your credit card every month to avoid interest fees and hits to your credit score. Easier said than done, we know. If you are unable to completely pay off the balance, pay as much as you can over the minimum payment and don’t charge anything else so you don’t fall further behind and face snowballing interest charges that you’ll be responsible for paying back. If you find yourself overspending by using a card, try budgeting with a set amount of cash for each week. Once this is used up, avoid spending money until your next paycheck.

3. Save Now by Paying Yourself First

After your bills and other necessary expenses have been accounted for, pay yourself first before using what’s left for nonessential purchases like take-out, coffee, and entertainment. As your paycheck increases, increase the amount that goes to your savings account as well. Building up your savings gives you security in case of an unexpected large expense, or the loss of a job. In addition to paying yourself in the form of deposits into your savings account, you should also consider investing your money, whether through a 401(k) account offered from your employer or your own personal traditional or Roth individual retirement account (IRA). Investing while you’re young allows you to save more with less because of compound interest. Time is on your side, so even if you can’t save a lot, you’ll end up saving more in the long run.

4. Set Goals for the Future

Building smart money habits like budgeting, investing, and managing credit cards is important. But you also shouldn’t lose sight of the reasons you want to save money in the first place. To help you keep your eyes on the prize, we created Goals: a new feature in Hills Bank Online. With Goals, you can set savings targets and start setting aside money with automatic, regular transfers that are calculated to your timeline. You’ll see a visual reminder of your saving every time you log into your account. It can be motivating to see you’re reaching your goals – and you barely have to lift a finger! It’s an easy way to save for a vacation, a new car, shopping, or a rainy day. You won’t need any extra software or applications to use Goals. It’s already available in Hills Bank Online on your desktop or smartphone.

Here are some tips for setting up your first goal:

1. Consider a goal that’s important to you, and think about the amount and target date needed to make it a reality.

2. Log into Hills Bank Online, then select “Start saving” under a Goals category on the dashboard. You can keep the category name or choose your own.

3. Follow the prompts to set up a regular transfer that is calculated to meet your goal, or save on your own terms.

4. Track your progress towards your goal on the Hills Bank Online dashboard. You can edit and see details about your goal by clicking on it. You can also edit your recurring transfers in the Activity Center under Payments/Transfers on the left-hand navigation bar.

While online banking features and budgeting apps are a great way to manage your accounts and keep track of expenses, it’s also a great idea to speak with a banker. Hills Bank bankers are personal finance experts who can provide money management advice to help you achieve your financial goals. Take advantage of their knowledge; that’s what they are there for!

While you might not be able to visit your banker in person at the moment, we created the HERE app to let you get in touch with your banker when it’s convenient for you, wherever is convenient for you.