Planning for the Future
When you think of your future, you may currently have very specific goals and dreams in mind, or your next few years may be a little less defined. Either way, there are steps you can take now to ensure you’re feeling confident and prepared for whatever the coming months, years, and decades may hold for you.
We celebrate the fact that there’s no one, clear-cut path that everyone should follow. Maybe you dream of getting married, buying a home, and starting a family. Maybe you’d rather travel the world or go to graduate school abroad, or not go to college at all. Maybe you plan to retire extra early, or refuse to retire, or want to start a business of your own. Maybe you’re in a place where you have no idea what you want just yet. And all of that is perfectly fine by us!
Though the steps you can take to prepare for a comfortable financial future look quite different depending on what paths choose to take, there are some universal elements everyone can focus on to set them up for success, for whatever lies ahead.
Key Steps for a Financially-Sound Future:
Know what’s going on with your money.
Stay engaged and in-the-know about where you’re at financially. Check your account balances often—daily—to stay on-top of what you have in your accounts and to catch anything suspicious. Monitor your credit score and check your credit report annually. Thoroughly review your monthly and year-end financial statements. Check in with your financial institution and/or lenders to see if you’re still in the best product for you, or if you may be able to get a better interest rate by switching accounts, refinancing, or consolidating your debts.
We make it easy to stay connected to your finances around-the-clock with our mobile banking app and online account access. You can check your account balances, make transfers, control your cards, monitor your credit score, and more!
Build an emergency fund.
There are plenty of future situations in which having an emergency fund may prove to be useful—including unexpected job loss, a large medical expense, or a costly home or auto repair, just to name a few. Having a cushion like this set aside can help absorb the shock of a financial emergency so you’re able to carry on without taking a hit to your primary checking or savings accounts.
Check out our tips and resources for building an emergency fund HERE.
Pay down your debts.
Focusing on paying down your existing debts ahead of whatever big plans you have for the future will put you in a better position all around. You’ll be in a better position to borrow another loan down the road if needed. You’ll have more money in your budget month-to-month to put toward an emergency fund or other savings goal. And on an emotional level, you’ll feel better about moving forward without debt weighing you down!
Check out our tips and resources for paying down your debts HERE.
Focus on getting and maintaining a great credit score.
Regardless of what your future holds, you’ll likely need to borrow money at some point. Your credit score is a key factor in lenders deciding if they’ll give you a loan as well as how high your interest rate is if they do. The better your credit score, the better your chances of qualifying for a loan at a lower rate.
Credit Score Resources:
- Credit Score Basics: How They’re Calculated & How to Improve Yours
- 3Rivers Members: Monitor Your Credit Score for FREE with CreditSense!
- Federal Trade Commission’s Guide to Repairing Your Credit
Establish a relationship with a local financial institution.
Having an established relationship with a local credit union or bank can do wonders for you now and in the future. Smaller institutions have more of an opportunity to really connect with their members or customers and get to know their financial situations and goals—and offer them support and resources along their journey. Not only that, but if you’re a long-time member, the financial institution has more history to go on to determine your character, payment history, and more when you apply for a loan or other account. It also makes picking up the phone or scheduling a meeting far more comfortable when you know who you’re talking to, where you’re going, and what to expect!
Be open and honest in discussing your finances with loved ones.
Normalizing financial conversations in your household and with those close to you can have a major impact on your overall financial wellness—especially if you have shared accounts, debts, or goals. Significant others should feel comfortable talking openly about their hopes and concerns when it comes to money, and be willing to work together in setting very clear expectations about finances.
Families in general, too, should be having ongoing conversations about finances—in their current and future state. If you have older parents and have not yet discussed who will be responsible for their assets or fulfilling their financial wishes when they’re no longer able, know that having that conversation now will make things far easier in the future.
And it’s never too early to start talking to your children about finances and teaching them good money habits that they can carry into adulthood!
Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
When you’re not sure about a financial term, are confused by the fine print, aren’t sure which of several options is best for you, or simply want an expert opinion, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask. Finances—and all the things tied to them—can be confusing, and they’re the last thing you want to make decisions about blindly. Speak up when you don’t understand or need something explained further to you.
When you do have a specific goal, come up with a specific plan.
If you’ve set a specific future goal—getting married, having a baby, taking a dream vacation, whatever it may be—it’s time to come up with a plan. Research and consider all your options before jumping into one immediately. Will you be able to save in-full for this goal? If not, could you save enough to cover half the cost, or enough for a down-payment? What will it take in order to do that? Cutting other expenditures out of your budget? Picking up more hours at work? Crunch some numbers, create some timelines, and run those through each option you have at your disposal to determine which makes the most sense.
What are you planning for the future? We can help! Give us a call, stop into your nearest branch, or schedule an appointment today!