While there’s never a bad time to get your finances in order, the New Year is a great time to check in on your financial habits. It’s the perfect time to review your savings, expenses, and investments so that you can set goals and monitor your budget for the coming year. We spoke with President/Chief Executive Officer Joan Gile and Loan Officer Cheri DeLorge to gather their top tips for starting the New Year off right.
Take Advantage of Existing Benefits
One of the most common mistakes people make with their finances is to not take advantage of the existing benefits and services offered by their financial institution. Joan recommends signing up for online banking if you haven’t already because, “You can categorize your spending to help you see where your money is being spent and if you are staying on budget. You can even download your transactions into an Excel spreadsheet or Quicken to do a more complex analysis.” She also recommends taking advantage of rewards programs to make the most of your debit card. With your Piscataqua Savings Bank debit card, you can use your rewards to pay for travel, products, or to get cash back on purchases.
Building Savings & Reducing Debt
Looking to build your savings this year? “Pay yourself first. Have money from your paycheck automatically deposited into your savings account. Even a small amount ads up over time,” Joan advises. “If you don’t see it, you won’t use it. Once you have built up some savings, move some into a certificate of deposit or money market account to earn a higher rate of interest.” Check Piscataqua Savings Bank’s current deposit rates here.
If you have any outstanding loans, Joan recommends paying a little extra each month towards the principal if you can. “This will help you pay off the loan faster,” she explains. Similarly, if you have a credit card, you should pay more than the minimum required each month to reduce your balance faster, if you cannot pay it off in full each month.
The New Year is also a great time to check on your credit score if you aren’t doing so already. Cheri advises, “Customers are allowed a copy of their credit report from Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax, each year. It is a good habit to set up to request and review your credit history annually. Your credit report can also tell you if someone has been using your identity to commit fraud.
Preparing for the Mortgage Process
If you’re thinking of beginning the process of applying for a mortgage or partway through the process, there are some actions you should avoid. If you have a mortgage application, pre-approval, or financial lending request in place, avoid obtaining any additional debts without consulting your Lending Officer to ensure the integrity of the initial approval. “Sometimes, something as small as a new credit card payment or as grand as a new auto loan payment can have adverse effects on an approval status,” Cheri advises.
Not sure where to begin the mortgage process? “It’s never too soon to talk with a Loan Officer about getting pre-approved for a mortgage. Your loan officer can review down payment information and calculate what a potential payment might look like,” Cheri explains. Piscataqua Savings Bank understands that there isn’t a standard loan that’s a perfect fit for every customer. That’s why our advisors will work with you to structure a loan that meets your unique needs and financial goals.
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