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Setting a Course for Your Financial Journey

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By: Andrea Alfaro
Branch Manager & Certified Wellbeing Coach

March 13, 2024

Financial literacy is sometimes lumped together with things like knowing how to write a check and filing your taxes, but what is more important is knowing general financial strategies for short term and long-term financial wellbeing. We are blasted with financial advice on social media from internet and mainstream personal finance “experts” that share tips on everything from paying off your mortgage in half the time to retiring at 40. Those strategies aren’t likely to help the everyday consumer cover the grocery bill or pay for daycare.

Additionally, there are hundreds of options for investing and managing your finances that can make it exceptionally easy for some and incredibly confusing to others. Having a basic understanding of what you need to know and what you can rely on tech for is a good starting point as you set a course for financial success.

Let’s start with the basics: what are you bringing in, and what are you spending? Some apps can help you identify subscriptions and recurring charges. To accomplish this, you can also review the last two to three months of your bank and credit card statements. During this process, you will also want to review your debts and understand what those payments are. You should have a firm grasp of what you are spending and if you share finances with a partner, being on the same page with all spending is important.

Equally important to knowing what you are making and spending is paying yourself first. Saving for retirement through an employer-sponsored retirement account is extremely important and the easiest way to save for retirement. If that is not an option for you, setting up a retirement account for yourself is an option through many brokerage companies including Affinity 1.

Next, you want to set a budget for yourself that fits with your lifestyle but also leaves room for financial missteps along the way. While this isn’t possible for everyone, you want to be as conservative as possible. This budget should also factor in ways to pay down debts and avoid adding to them. There are many suggestions from financial experts on the best way to do this, like the 28/36 rule 2 and the 50/30/20 budget 3, but sticking to these living costs can be unrealistic in many places.

As you spend more time understanding your basic financial needs, you can ultimately set larger goals for yourself based on your needs. This can range from saving for a first home or paying for a child’s education. Understanding your finances is tough, but the good thing is you don’t have to do it all by yourself. Affinity has a team of Financial Wellbeing Coaches at each branch location to help you get started or pick up where you might have left off. Make an appointment today 4.

This information is for informational purposes only, is intended to provide general guidance, and does not constitute legal, tax, or financial advice. Each person's circumstances are different and may not apply to the specific information provided. You should seek the advice of a financial professional, tax consultant, and/or legal counsel to discuss your specific needs before making any financial or other commitments regarding the matters related to your condition.

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