2020 was a difficult year for everyone. The global coronavirus pandemic changed our lives in ways we couldn’t control and led to additional financial hardship for many. As we welcome 2021 with hope for brighter days and an eventual return to some semblance of normal, many of us may be thinking about making some positive changes in our lives. What about making some financial resolutions?
Making financial resolutions is especially important for military families. A study by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) showed that nearly 90% of active servicemembers and 84% of spouses are worried about personal finance.
While the pandemic may have taught us there’s much we can’t control, working to take control of your finances may give you some peace of mind. And it could lead to financial health throughout the rest of the year -- and even for years to come.
Looking for some inspiration? Here are 5 financial resolutions for 2021.
1. Create a New Budget
More Americans are budgeting than ever before, according to a Debt.com annual survey. But in such a turbulent, abnormal year, it shouldn’t be surprising to think that your “normal” budget may need an overhaul.
Your financial situation likely looks much different than it did at this time last year. By ensuring that your budget matches your current situation, you can set yourself up for a better chance of success when it comes to sticking to it. Otherwise, that budget isn’t good for much.
2. Make a Plan to Manage Debts
Many Americans have debt, and a difficult year likely didn’t make it easier to manage. And according to NBC News, members of the armed forces are more likely to carry higher credit card debt than civilians. This can be due to unique circumstances for service members, such as frequent relocation and deployment, which can cause additional financial strain.
Making a plan to manage debt the best you can is a smart goal for 2021. Unmanaged credit card debt, student loans and more often only lead to more financial stress and higher interest rates. And it can sometimes feel like it’s snowballing out of control.
Try throwing that snowball back at your debt: the snowball method is one debt repayment strategy, according to Investopedia. With the snowball method, you pay off your smallest debts first to help build your motivation through the debt payment process. The other winter-themed debt metaphor is the avalanche method -- which is when you pay your debt with the highest interest rate first.
3. Learn to Utilize Digital Banking
Each year’s new technological advances can often fit into our lives seamlessly to make things easier for us. If you already have a checking account with digital banking, you may not know that you already have access to your personal finances right at your fingertips. It’s on your mobile phone, tablet or your computer through digital banking. Digital banking is free and easy once you learn your way around.
This year, save a few trees and trips to the bank by going paperless. Here are some of the benefits of Digital Banking with Armed Forces Bank:
- Streamlined Access - More intuitive experience that works similarly across all devices -- mobile, tablet or desktop.
- Enhanced Alerts - Set up, customize and manage alerts the way you want with ease.*
- Mobile Deposit - Deposit checks for free in a snap – safely and securely from a mobile device.** Available on iPhone or Android.
- New Payment Tools - Move money to your other accounts through account-to-account transfers. Use bill pay to schedule and send payments. Plus, we’ve partnered with Zelle® so you can easily send and receive money from friends, family and others you trust.*** Learn more about Zelle.
- Secure Messaging - Reach us for questions about your account on any device through secure messaging.*
4. Enroll in Military Early Pay
While we’re on the subject of Digital Banking, did you know that Armed Forces Bank clients can get paid a day early with Military Early Pay?
Early Pay is a free, automatic direct deposit service we offer to military service members. Whether active or retired, all service members can access their Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS) direct deposits one business day before the set pay date. Keep in mind that direct deposits from companies or places other than DFAS do not qualify.
Enrolling is easy. If you have a checking or savings account with direct deposit, you’re already set! No forms to fill out, no fees to pay. If you don’t have a checking or savings account yet or need to set up direct deposit, here’s how to take care of both:
- To open an account, look at your options for checking or savings and apply online. Applying typically takes 10 minutes or less.
- To set up direct deposit, contact your servicing payroll office or log into your MyPay account and enter your checking or savings account details and routing number (101108319).
5. Explore Special Ways to Save Money
In honor of your service to our country, many businesses and industries offer special discounts and savings for active military and veterans. By spending a little more time comparing prices between different companies, you could be in for big savings. From retail, to insurance, to travel, to services and more, it’s worth exploring your options for military discounts.
Consider a few major brands offering discounts for service members:
- Adidas: 30% off online orders
- Alaska Airlines: Specially priced tickets, 15% off meals, 5 free checked bags
- Apple: 10% off orders
- Microsoft: 10% off orders
- Nike: 10% off online orders
- NFL Gamepass: 25% off
- Under Armour: 20% off select purchases
- Walt Disney World: Specially priced tickets
To Your Financial Health
Although 2020 was a difficult year, creating financial resolutions may help you feel more in control of your financial life in 2021. And Armed Forces Bank will be here as your partner through it all. A happy and healthy New Year to you!
* Message and data rates charged by your mobile phone carrier may apply.
** Deposits are subject to verification and not available for immediate withdrawal.
*** Zelle and the Zelle related marks are wholly owned by Early Warning Services, LLC and are used herein under license