When I am counseling people and we are working our way through their budget, we eventually end up talking about saving. Often, there is a short exchange that goes a little bit like this:
Me: Do you contribute anything to savings each month?
Them: Well, I try to.
Me: How does that work out?
Them: To be honest, it doesn’t. I try, but it just doesn’t work out.
As much gray area as there can be in each person’s financial life and as different as all of our individual circumstances might be, the necessity to save is one of a few hard and fast rules that exist no matter who we are and no matter what our circumstances might be. It’s a must. That can’t be stressed enough. Savings can’t be something you try to do. It must be something that you simply do.
“Aim for progress, not perfection.”
Jean Chatzky wrote a short book called “Money Rules: The Simple Path to Lifelong Security” in 2012 that was given to me from NCUF (National Credit Union Foundation) by NCCYou President Larry Champeaux. Every once in a while, I pick it up and page through it and I meditate on the advice she gives. There’s a lot of good stuff in there.
One of Jean’s rules for saving more is “aim for progress, not perfection.” I like that idea an awful lot. Jean writes about her rule in the context of having a savings plan that you’re forced to deviate from because “life happens.” Life does happen. No doubt about that. If you’ve been saving your money as a protection against unforeseen expenses, that’s great– and you’re most assuredly going to have unforeseen expenses come along that will need that money. It can hurt a little bit to see your savings go down but those types of expenses are exactly what it’s there for.
Did you know that January is National Financial Wellness month (not to be confused with April’s Financial Literacy Month)? Perhaps it’s no coincidence that it happens in the first month of the year, which is usually a time for a “fresh start” in peoples’ lives (like we posted about last week.)
I like the idea of a Financial Wellness month, regardless of what month in the year it lands on, because it can help us to focus our attention and awareness on our financial lives. Awareness is where financial health starts. Your budget is the foundation and your choices are what makes the budget (and plan) work, but awareness is the starting point.
Tuesday, January 21st, 2014, marks a pretty cool day for NCCU. That’s the day that our new/updated mobile smartphone banking app rolls out on both the Android Marketplace and iTunes. You can use those links to get the app(s) or you can search for them by typing in “NCCYou.” If you have been using our previous app version, you should be excited about this change. The new app will be adding mobile bill pay functionality as well as mobile remote deposit capture, which are both excellent features, to an already great app.
Because of this launch, both mobile and online banking are on my mind. I genuinely think that mobile and online banking are some of the best tools a person can use as they are trying to either improve or maintain good financial health. We know that financial awareness is one of the key ingredients to good financial health and mobile banking allows us to be aware of our finances right up to the current second, if we want to be. No more waiting on the phone to speak to a Member Service Rep just to find out your balance or the amount of the deposit that came in today. By the time you’re halfway done dialing the phone number for the credit union, I’ve already used my phone to check my balance AND my deposit amount.