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Learn six things you can do at the beginning of the year to help you get financially fit for the new year.

Stick to a budget

Creating and keeping to a budget is the first step toward improving your finances. Simply add up all of your monthly expenses and then subtract that amount from your total monthly income. The difference is your discretionary money. If you find yourself short each month, identify expenses that can be reduced or eliminated so you’ll stay within your budget.

Set financial goals

Figure out your short and long term financial goals, and how much you’ll need to save to achieve them. A short-term goal would be saving money to buy a car, while a long-term goal would be to save for college tuition or a down payment on a home. Once you know how much you need to save, determine what to set aside monthly. A Buckeye State Credit Union Savings Account is a great financial tool to help you reach your goals.

Create an emergency fund

Do you have enough savings to cover yourself if you unexpectedly become unemployed or have a sudden drop in income? An emergency fund of between three to six months’ salary may help see you and your family through difficult times.

Refinance to a low-rate home loan

If you’re a homeowner with good credit and equity in your home, take advantage of today’s historically low interest rates to refinance your existing mortgage and save money. If you’ve got an adjustable-rate mortgage, refinancing to a fixed-rate will give you peace of mind over the life of the loan. If you’ve already got a fixed-rate loan, consider how much money you’ll save in monthly payments if you refinance to a lower rate.

Stop impulse buying

To improve your personal finances, remember to place your needs before your wants. You may want an iPad for yourself but is it something you need or can afford? By checking your impulse buying with a dose of reality, you’ll teach yourself the discipline needed for a better financial year.

Be a smarter car buyer

If you intend to purchase a new or used vehicle, there are things you can do to stay under budget. First, get pre-qualified for an auto loan so you’ll have an idea of what you can afford. Not sure what you can afford? Let Buckeye State Credit Union Auto Loans help you determine what you can afford Do your research about the brands, models and features you’re interested in so you’ll have an idea of what they should cost. You can find this information at websites such as Also, remember to negotiate down from the sticker price and to keep trade-in negotiations separate from the vehicle price negotiations.

Ensure you’re insured

Be sure you have the insurance you need for your home, auto, life and property. If others are dependent on you and your income, you’ll need enough life insurance that they can rely on for the short-term. Long-term disability insurance is another way to protect against lost income. Also, you should carry adequate liability coverage on your auto and home policies. If you want to lower your annual insurance premiums, you can raise your insurance deductible.

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