With inflation hitting us all hard these days, it kind of feels like New Year’s resolutions just aren’t cutting it anymore — and lately, a lot of people have been sharing their “ins” and “outs” for 2024 (things you should be doing, and things you should stop doing) instead.
As a local bank that’s committed to helping you improve your financial situation, we want you to do more with your money than ever this year.
So, to help you start making some real, long-term changes that go beyond financial resolutions, here are our ins and outs for your money in 2024 and beyond:
In: Fully funded emergency funds
Emergency funds are a game-changer for helping you avoid debt and added stress when unexpected expenses come up.
It might sound painful to be putting money aside for a rainy day when the current state of the economy is already straining everyone’s wallets, but that’s exactly why we think you should be building up your emergency fund.
An unexpected trip to the doctor or a new set of tires will be more expensive than ever thanks to that thing called inflation, so you’ll be better off in the long run if you can set aside money now.
But to keep you from using those funds for anything other than an emergency, it’s a good idea to put them in a separate, specific account.
A solid option is a savings account. That way, you can maintain easy access to your money (because when emergencies happen, you’re going to want it fast) while also growing your emergency fund more quickly thanks to earned interest.
And as for that “fully funded” part, our bankers would recommend setting aside at least three to six months’ worth of expenses, depending on your income and financial situation.
However, if that amount feels unattainable right now, please remember that a semi-funded emergency fund is still better than a nonexistent one.
Out: Impulse buying
We’re not about to come for your morning lattes or tell you to stop grabbing a snack at the gas station.
It’s winter in South Dakota and we’re all trying to fend off seasonal depression, so do what you’ve got to do.
That being said, we’re all guilty of impulse buying — whether it be at the grocery store, during a Target run, or with an add-on that you don’t really need while ordering your lunch.
Whatever your Achille’s heel might be, let’s all try to cut down on impulse purchases this year so we can save more for the stuff that really matters (like that emergency fund…wink wink, nudge nudge).
But if you find yourself in a pinch, here are a few questions to ask before adding that item to your cart:
- Do I have something similar at home already?
- Do I have a place to put this?
- Will I still want this a month or even a week from now?
- Will I actually use this, or will it just go to waste?
In: Splurging on a mid-priced item for yourself
You’re probably still mad at us about the impulse buying thing, but just hear us out.
Not too long ago, we came across a Twitter (sorry, X) thread in which the original poster asked people about their favorite mid-sized purchases ($80–$300) they’ve made that they considered small life upgrades.
Responses ranged from fancy espresso machines to house cleaning services, and everyone who responded was so pleased with their purchase regardless of cost.
And if you cut down on impulse buying this year…do you see where we’re going with this?
Impulse purchases create a sense of immediate gratification and pleasure, but those feelings have nothing on the joy and improved quality of life that can come from you splurging on a mid-priced item — that, of course, you have saved up for and planned to buy ahead of time.
See, you don’t have to give up the “treat yourself” mentality altogether; we just suggest you reframe it a little bit.
Out: Keeping up with the Joneses (a.k.a. social media influencers)
These days, we’re constantly being inundated with fancy new stuff and trend upon trend upon trend.
There’s actually nothing wrong with following influencers and getting inspiration from their lifestyles. But, you have to remember that it’s their job to sell you on trends.
And while they make money off of it, you’re just spending.
So, maybe start taking frequent social media breaks. Or, go on an unfollow spree. Or, adjust your budget accordingly.
Do whatever you have to do, because we’re done keeping up with the Joneses this year and focusing on keeping up with our financial goals instead.
In: Shopping (and banking) locally
One of the best parts of living in Sioux Falls and the surrounding communities is the countless options for great restaurants and stores to spend your money at.
Plus, when you shop (and bank) locally, it helps to keep our local economy strong, provides jobs for your friends and neighbors, and guarantees that your money will go right back into your community!
Note: we will also allow you to substitute “supporting small businesses” for this one, because small businesses — whether in the Sioux Falls area or elsewhere — are truly the lifeblood of the economy and quite often have better products and better service all around.
Out: Falling victim to fraud or scams
Obviously, no one sets out to become a victim of fraud. But we can all always be doing more to protect ourselves.
As fraudsters and scammers get smarter and sneakier, you need to be doing the same on your end to keep your finances and personal information safe.
Fraud prevention is incredibly important to all of us at First National Bank, which is why we have lots of comprehensive resources to help you with this:
- 5 ways to prevent fraud
- 4 common types of business fraud to watch out for — and how to prevent them
- Can you spot a phishing scam?
- 5 tips to keep your shopping merry and safe this holiday season
- Fraud and identity theft prevention
Some other things we think you should try this year are setting up two-factor authentication on your accounts, changing passwords on a regular basis, and checking your account statements often for unusual or suspicious charges.
In: Financial education resources
For us, 2024 is going to be all about having a positive mindset — which is why we’re leaving you with one extra “in.”
We want you to do more with your money this year, but we wouldn’t dream of making you do it alone.
Our team is full of experts who have an abundance of financial knowledge spanning topics like saving, paying off debt, starting a business, planning for your future, and more.
With these tips in your back pocket, we hope you make 2024 your most prosperous year yet. If you have questions or want help implementing these “ins” and “outs” in your financial life, contact our team or reach out to a banker near you!