I’ve been holding back on writing this one. Then, it occurred to me that I was overthinking things. (I do that sometimes.) Without further ado, I give you Personal Finance Tools for Women: Set 2. I’ll continue to expand upon these as the journey continues.
For the past two decades, I have only banked with small credit unions. I like it that way. I like knowing my money is with a small, community-based organization and not funding some corporate executive’s retreat to Bora Bora.
With anything, there are pros and cons of using a credit union but I do know it’s important to me that the people who help manage my money be nice. And that’s how I would describe my credit union, nice.
Some people are reluctant to bank with credit unions due to their limited availability of brick-and-mortar branches. However, most credit unions collaborate through a program called CO-OP. According to the website, “CO-OP’s nearly 30,000 ATMS and 5,000+ shared branches means you have more direct, surcharge-free* access to your money than most traditional bank customers do.”
Case in point, I recently had to shut down my debit card due to suspected fraud. I live in southern CA and my credit union lives in upstate NY, a staggering 3,000 miles away. Problem? Nope. I simply strolled into the nearest CO-OP shared branch credit union and withdrew cash from my checking account. And they were super nice. Repeat. Nice.
I love my credit union, Saratoga’s Community Federal Credit Union. And for me to love a bank? Yes, they are that good.
To improve upon the credit union experience, CO-OP developed Sprig. Sprig is an app that allows you to consolidate various credit union accounts into a single online experience.
I found out about it because I needed a way to deposit checks into my credit union account remotely. Fortunately, Sprig has one of those handy-dandy mobile deposit functions. You can also transfer money between your accounts or even to any other person’s credit union account, if needed.
Microsoft Excel. If you aren’t good at it, I suggest you learn. There are lots of available training sessions and tutorials available. This is my primary financial tool and I can’t say enough about it.
I put together my monthly budgets on Excel and look at it at least once a day. I use shading and colors to indicate payments, invoices received, etc. I can see quickly how one shift in budget impacts the bottom line, or “wiggle” line in my case.
Am I genius level? No, but it works for me. Maybe it can work for you, too. Try it out. Microsoft is offering a free trial.
I’ve often given the advice “play to your strengths and delegate your weaknesses.”
I finally took my own advice and engaged a professional financial advisor to help with my personal finances. She was referred to me by a former co-worker and, upon meeting her in person, I was immediately impressed by her positive attitude and innovative business model.
She understands my personal goals and how I do and do not want to live my life. She accepts I don’t use a check register and knows all about my tax “problem.” She’s providing guidance on products to consider and encouragement on the effort I’m making.
Is she selling me products? Yes, of course. But she is suggesting only those I need and am ready for. She is providing education in easy-to-digest chunks and offering advice relevant to my “emotional temperature.” She uses catchy little phrases that I can use as financial mantras.
Trust is a big thing. Trusting your finances is a very big thing. If you decide to engage a financial advisor, make sure they are credible, capable, and more importantly, caring.