Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Rochester does a lot more than credit counseling
It’s a situation familiar to many Americans: After indulging during the holiday season, the new year rolls around and it seems there’s no better time to make a permanent lifestyle change than Jan. 1. However, statistics suggest that just 8% of people achieve their New Year’s resolutions.
For those with money issues who want to improve their financial situation by Dec. 31 of next year, however, there are ways to increase your odds of success. Here are four financial New Year’s resolutions anyone can make to improve their financial lives.
Resolution #1: Automate Your Finances
The reality is that 80% of New Year’s resolutions vanish by February. This high rate of failure isn’t new to anyone who’s ever tried to adopt a new habit. It can be hard to sustain change.
But financial habits can be a little bit different. Unlike a diet, where you have to actively control what you consume, there are plenty of ways you can automate your financial life so your new habits are hard-wired into the system you build. These may include:
Moving any relevant bills and subscriptions to a credit or debit card when possible. Setting up automatic payments ensures the bill is paid on time, creates less work for you and helps you earn rewards. These benefits will help you stay motivated while you make new financial habits. Just be sure to pay your credit card bill on time and in full each month to avoid interest fees.
Using your bank’s full service options. Need to cut a check to the landlord? Ask your bank if it will automatically send a check for you. This will make your rent check just another item in your budget—and not a routine activity that demands your regular attention.
Resolution #2: Plan to Pay off Debt
Automating your finances will require a little planning—but once you do it, you’re on the way to financial wellness. The same is true with paying off debt. It requires a little upfront planning, but you’ll build momentum and will soon see results.
Statistics show that 33% of all debt is revolving, such as credit card balances. And with the average debt per cardholder at more than $5,000, there’s some progress to be made.
The good news is that alleviating debt is an investment that pays immediate returns. The less debt you have, the less interest you’ll have to pay until there’s none at all.
Resolution #3: Plan for Retirement
If retirement is far in the future and you haven’t made a plan to save for it yet, then you’re in luck. Opening a retirement fund is a simple process, and there’s a lot of time for your savings to grow. There are many types of retirement accounts to choose from, such as a Roth IRA, which allows your investments to grow tax-free. Talk with your financial institution to find out which retirement plan is right for you.
After that, remember your first resolution: automate. Set up automatic contributions for your retirement fund, whether it’s from your bank account or from your employer. You’ll find that even a small amount of retirement funding can help build momentum for the future. When you decide to ramp up your retirement investing, it will be an easy update to make.
Resolution #4: Monitor Your Credit Score
Building good credit will have a positive impact on your entire financial life. Monitoring your credit score is the first step to managing your credit and your relationship with lenders. A good credit score can save you money throughout your life by helping you qualify for favorable terms on loans, credit cards and other financial products.
Take advantage of credit-monitoring services that your credit card issuer or bank may offer.
You can make sure your financial New Year’s resolutions don’t fail by setting realistic goals, automating your finances and committing to making small changes over time.
About the Author: Joe Resendiz is a former investment banking analyst for Goldman Sachs, where he covered public sector and infrastructure financing. During his time on Wall Street, Joe worked closely with the debt capital markets team, which allowed him to gain unique insights into the credit market. Joe is currently a research analyst who covers credit cards and the payments industry. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin, where he majored in finan...
CCCS of Rochester has been partnering with financial institutions within the Rochester community to help people get back on track with better money management. We offer a program called Smart Checking which helps individuals gain knowledge about better bank account management through education and accountability.
Why is it important to manage your bank account? When your money is withdrawn from the account and the balance goes below zero, you could incur a hefty overdraft fee depending on terms of the account. These are also called a nonsufficient funds fee or NSF.
These bank fees can start to add up taking from other expenses or bills you must pay. It’s like taking your money and throwing it right out of the window.
How will this program help you? You can schedule an appointment with an expert to review how you are managing your money in your bank account and learn ways to avoid fees. Assistance with creating a budget and review of credit will also be conducted during appointment.
Here are some basic tips you can do now to start taking control of your money and avoid unnecessary fees:
Opt out of debit card coverage. Ask your financial institution what your preferences are so you will not be allowed to overdraw your account.
Check your balance frequently. Use online banking, call the 800 number or keep a check register to total a running balance.
Set up mobile alerts to notify you when your balance is getting below a certain amount. Ask your financial institution to help you set this up.
To enroll in weekly financial tips to help you stay on track, simply text the keyword CCCS to 797979. Text message and data rates apply.
To schedule an appointment for Smart Checking counseling, call our office at 585-546-3440.
If you have questions or would like to learn more about this program, please email us at
Identity Theft is quickly becoming one of the most organized and costly crimes of modern times. Identity Theft is a crime in which an imposter deceptively obtains identifying personal data and uses it for their own personal gain. Some of this data might include social security numbers, driver's license numbers, credit card numbers and bank account numbers. The process can start with a stolen wallet, pilfered email or an online data breach. Identity Theft can affect anyone of any age, including children!
Over 8 million people are victimized by identity theft each year, with identity theft remaining the top complaint to the FTC for 11 years running. Overall losses from identity theft were over $37 billion in 2010. The average consumer out of pocket cost was up to $631 per incident.
Here are some tips for protecting your identity:
Buy a shredder and use it! Shred everything including credit card receipts, old bank statements, medical statements, every day bills and pre-approved credit card offers. If you don't have a shredder or can't buy one, look for shredding events in your area.
Monitor your credit and bank accounts carefully, so you'll know if a bill is missing or if unauthorized purchases have been made.
Protect your Social Security number. Only give out your Social Security number when absolutely necessary.
Never give out your Social Security number, bank account number or credit card numbers to phone solicitors.
When shopping online, make sure you see the Trust-e symbol or a Better Business Bureau online seal. These indicate that the seller has been independently audited and deemed trustworthy. Also make sure that online sites are secure or in an encrypted mode. The best way to do this is to look for a web address that begins with https instead of the usual http.
Have a constant awareness of your surroundings when shopping or using ATM's. Unscrupulous people can pick pocket you or look over your shoulder to gain your pin number.
Consider signing up for a credit monitoring service. Such services alert you via email anytime there is an inquiry or other activity to your credit report.
Order your credit report regularly. Consumers are allowed one free credit report every 12 months from each of the three bureaus- Experian, Equifax and Transunion. Order a report now from one bureau and then from another in January. This will give you a look at your credit report every 4 months and is still free.
The best way to protect your identity is to be proactive and through prevention. It is much more difficult to recover from identity theft than to take steps to stop it before it happens.
Recently, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the Excelsior scholarship, which will provide tuition-free college at New York’s public colleges and universities to families making up to $125,000 a year. Under the Excelsior Scholarship, nearly 80 percent, or 940,000 middle-class families and individuals making up to $125,000 per year, would qualify to attend college tuition-free at all CUNY and SUNY two- and four-year colleges in New York State.
A regional breakdown of families who would be eligible for the program is available below.
The new program will be phased in over three years, beginning for New Yorkers making up to $100,000 annually in the fall of 2017, increasing to $110,000 in 2018, and reaching $125,000 in 2019. Scholars must be enrolled in college full-time and average 30 credits per year (including Summer and January semesters) in order to receive the funding, however, the program has built in flexibility so that any student facing hardship is able to pause and restart the program, or take fewer credits one semester than another. Students are required to maintain a grade point average necessary for the successful completion of their coursework, and, as the program makes a major investment in the state’s greatest asset – our young people – scholars will be required to live and work in-state for the same number of years after graduation as they received the scholarship.
These initiatives build on the Governor’s commitment to making college affordable for all students in the Empire State, including the nation-leading 'Get On Your Feet' Loan Forgiveness Program, which allows eligible college graduates living in New York to pay nothing on their student loans for the first two years out of school.
Visit the website https://www.hesc.ny.gov to learn more about the Excelsior Scholarship and to be electronically notified when you may apply by entering you email address on the Excelsior Scholarship Alert for...
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A History of Helping People in Rochester
CCCS of Rochester is proud to be the only locally-based non-profit Credit Counseling Agency in the Rochester area. Over the last 40+ years, we have helped hundreds of thousands of people reclaim their financial healthMore about us