We’re well into the new year…where are you with your resolutions? Are you staying on track or have you started? Either way, it’s never too late to assess your goals. Whether it’s fitness or finance, having a plan and sticking to it is the best way to ensure you’ll meet your goals.

If your resolution is financial fitness, you’ve come to the right place. First Bank’s team of professionals are ready to help answer your questions and help you get your finances in tip-top shape. Let’s get started.

  1. Organize all of your bills (both automatic payment and paper) and arrange them by due date. It’s hard to know what we have to work with if we don’t know where our hard-earned money is going each month. If you’re not already using automatic bill pay within our online banking system, take this time to set it up. This will help to avoid any late payment fees. This is also a great time to sign up to receive e-statements if you’re still receiving paper!
  2. Write down all of your expenses or keep them listed on a spreadsheet. Be sure to include things like gas, groceries, gifts, auto maintenance, and other household items that aren’t necessarily a ‘bill’, but certainly come out of your expense category each month.
  3. Once all of your expenses for the month are assessed and counted for, look for ways to reduce costs. Shop around and find comparable coverage at a reduced cost at various auto and home insurance agencies. Contact your phone carrier to see if they offer better plans or are offering discounts. Don’t forget to meal plan and make weekly grocery lists. Look for online or print coupons as well as apps to help you save. This simple exercise could help trim some costs from your monthly budget.
  4. Establish savings. Set a goal to save a small portion from your paycheck into an interest-bearing savings account. Set up automatic transfer from checking into savings, so you’ll automatically save money each month without having to do anything. This ‘set it and forget it’ strategy works because, in theory, you don’t miss it if it’s not there. Be sure to increase your savings amount or percentage as you get raises or additional income.
  5. Pay down outstanding debt. Got a credit card or auto loan payment that you’d like to eliminate from your monthly budget? An easy strategy is to establish an automatic weekly or bi-weekly payment toward the balance. It’s much easier to make smaller payments than one larger one each month. Watching your balance go down quickly is very motivating!
  6. Evaluate your long-term financial plan. Has your personal or financial situation changed? Do you have your assets and estate in order should something happen to you or your spouse? Do you have proper long-term care and life insurance in place? Perhaps you’ve never considered or researched any of these items and need some direction?
  7. Set up a time to meet with a First Bank Wealth Management professional by calling 800-452-1414 to assess where you’re at in your financial plan or to establish a new one.

Make a financial plan for 2018 and stick to it! Now is a great time to make a plan and stick to it while on the road to becoming financially fit. Of course, you’ll have to allow for some variations along the way, but as long as you’re staying the course, you’re certain to see a positive change to your finances by the end of the year.