News for YOU!
News for YOU! is a free, monthly newsletter provided by KS StateBank that offers tips and other information to help you make wise financial choices. Please feel free to sign up now to receive new editions of our newsletters each month, as well as other updates. You can also subscribe to our business newsletter, News for YOU! Business Edition.
With the start of the new year, it’s a good opportunity to take a look at your finances and work on any potential trouble spots. For many of us – between student loan payments, car loans and mortgages – living with and managing debt has become part of our normal lives. For others though, debt can be a serious problem that can cause financial stress, insomnia, and relationship problems.
One of the biggest problems for those living with the burden of debt is that they fail to recognize they have a problem – until it's too late. There are, however, some clear signs that indicate when debt is a problem. These warning signs include:
- You can afford only minimum monthly payments. Paying only the minimum on revolving debt, such as your credit cards, will result in substantial interest fees – and could take you years to pay off the debt.
- You can't meet your regular expenses. If you need to borrow from your friends or family members or take cash advances on your credit cards to pay your phone bill or your car payment, you have a debt problem.
- Your debt is growing. Are you aware of the amount of money you owe? Take the time to add up your debt. Then, determine if you're debt is staying the same or increasing each month. If you're not paying down debt, you have a problem.
- Your credit score is declining. If you have a high percentage of debt and you are late or delinquent on your payments, your credit score will reflect that.
- You have no money to save. From car repairs to medical bills, life is full of unexpected expenses. That is why it's essential to have an emergency fund to help pay for them. If you have to use credit to pay for unexpected expenses, you will end up accumulating additional debt.
- Bill collectors call you. Do you find yourself screening your phone calls for debt collectors? If you're receiving calls, it means that you've fallen behind on your payments. Ignoring the calls won't make them or your debt problem go away.
- Have you applied for a new credit card, mortgage, or car loan and been denied? A denial means that a lender does not believe you have the capacity to pay back your loan.
- You frequently overdraw your bank account. If you have an overdrawn account, it means you are spending more money than you have. Take a look at your spending to uncover ways to cut expenses.
- You're losing sleep. If you're staying up at night worrying about how you're going to pay your bills, you definitely have a problem.
- You hide your debt. Neglecting to tell your partner or other family members about the debt you have is a sure sign you have a problem.
If you are exhibiting these signs of debt, it's important to act immediately. Speak with a nonprofit credit counselor or an experienced financial advisor. Don't delay as ignoring your debt problem will only cost you more.
We also offer My Money, a free online financial management tool found in your KS StateBank Online Banking account. My Money can help you stay on track, set goals and maintain your finances.
The holidays may be over, but many of us are still making lists. Only instead of writing down what we want to buy, we're thinking about what we want to change about ourselves with our annual New Year's resolutions. Despite our high hopes and big plans, many of us usually don't get very far into the year before we break those resolutions.
It's never a bad idea to think about ways to improve your life, but instead of making resolutions, make a fresh start by taking these important steps:
- Reflect. Life is always moving, but take some time to stop and reflect on the past year. What were you most proud of? What was most difficult for you? What would you like to change?
- Set priorities. As you reflect on your life, think about what matters most to you. Is it your family? Your career? A passion you have for something? Once you assign your priorities, start allocating your time accordingly. Then, you can spend more time on what's important to you and less time on things that aren't.
- Set goals and work toward them. Is there something you would like to accomplish in the New Year? For example, do you want to write a book? Or make a career change? Once you determine your goal, list some small steps you can take to work toward it.
- Simplify. If you feel you don't have enough time, cut back on some of your lesser responsibilities. You can also simplify your life by getting rid of material things you don't need.
- Be positive. Instead of focusing on the things you can't or didn't do, focus on the things you've done well. Destructive emotions, such as guilt or anger won't help you improve your life. By being positive, you'll attract other positive people.
- Enjoy life. We all have responsibilities, but life is very precious and short. Make sure you carve out time to do the things you love to do and spend time with the people who mean the most to you.
So go ahead ... make a fresh start in the New Year by following these simple steps. You'll be glad you did.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
All KS StateBank branches and offices will be closed on Monday, January 20 in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. We will reopen during regular hours on Tuesday, January 21.
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