Back to School: Personal Finances 101

Back to school time is upon us – and as the kids head off and you reminisce about doing the same years ago, do you recall how each school year began? Typically, with the basics.

Whether a review of the fundamentals before moving onto more advanced concepts, or starting off in an entry-level course to learn the basics, starting small and building upon that foundation is an important part of the learning process.

This concept is one that can also be applied to your personal finances. So, as the kids head off to school, take the time to do a 101 class of your own to serve as a sort of ‘check-in’ for your financial state.

Here are three basic financial keys to remind yourself of:

  • Spend Less Than You Earn – I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again because out of all the financial wisdom you receive over the years, this is the most fundamental, but also the most important. It’s a self-explanatory concept, but maximizing the difference between what you spend and what you earn is key. It’s as simple as that.
  • Learn How to Manage Your Money – If you don’t already have a system in place to manage your financial affairs, start now. There are many ways to do this. Start by paying off high-interest debt and work down from there. Max out your retirement. Build and contribute to an emergency fund. Invest. Everyone has their own system; establish yours.
  • Live Frugally – Many associate the word ‘frugal’ with ‘cheap,’ but that’s not the case at all. Being frugal is really about seeing where your money is going and why. It’s about maximizing every dollar. Some habits don’t align with frugality – many people purchase a coffee on a daily basis, for example, but $3 or $4 for a coffee every day for a year amounts to over $1,000. Think about it.

If financial troubles arise or you’re already in a state of financial worry, remember: reminding yourself of the basics can go a long way in creating change.

Stop by your local branch or visit to chat with a representative about basic ways you can impact your finances.

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