7 Financial Habits to Strengthen Your Wallet
By Jeta S. Stephens
Throughout my years of working as a banker, I gained invaluable insight that shifted my whole perspective of banking and money. I am so excited to share with you! Let’s go.
1. Review your transactions regularly. Do this for two reasons.
1) Look for fraud purchases you may need to dispute. 2) Analyze your spending habits and what could be eliminated.
2. Communicate with your bank.
In good times and less than great times. If you need fees waived, ask. If you’re experiencing hardships, talk. Now is the best time to start. As we’re experiencing a pandemic, some banks are waiving interest fees and allowing credit card and loan payments to be deferred. If you utilize this option, be sure to ask what the repayment requirements are. And in more stable times, continue the communication. Account types and offerings frequently change. Be sure to get ALL the benefits your bank offers. Go in for an account review every couple of years or if your income changes.
**Disclaimer** A banker’s job is to sell.
When you have a conversation, most likely you’ll be offered to sign up for a new product. Oblige only if you’ve researched that product and it makes sense for you.
3. Borrow low before you borrow high.
This is mainly for those that are building or rebuilding credit. The cost to borrow is high for those with low or no credit. You are automatically assigned a higher interest rate and will be charged more in interest fees. Start with opening one credit card and use it for small purchases. When your score increases to the 700 range, start thinking about bigger loans (car, home). Always know your lender’s lowest interest rates. Until you qualify for those, borrow as little as possible.
4. Pay your credit card balances in full each month.
The easiest way to fall into a pit of debt is to spend more than what you can repay. It starts with a trip to the movies, then a trip to Jamaica, then your bill turns into an anvil tied to your ankle. Using your credit card and paying it in full each month will increase your credit score and avoid fees. But when you carry a balance, your score lowers, and the interest fees increase each month. Charge only what you can immediately pay off!
5. Build your credit. But remember it’s just a number.
Simply put, good credit = debt. People often equate good credit to wealth. There can be some truth to that. Some! But the real certainty is that people with the highest credit scores normally have higher debts. Your credit score is calculated by how well you handle debt. Having strong credit will help if you must borrow money to purchase a car, home, etc. You’ll have access to a lower interest rates and pay less for your borrowing. But please don’t get caught up in the score alone. Plenty of wealthy people have terrible credit. Plenty of people struggling to pay down debts (student loans, car loans, credit cards, mortgages) have good credit. Focus on what life would be like if borrowing was optional for you. That might require you to spend less or earn more.
6. Calculate your net worth.
What you own (investments, cash, home) – what you owe (debts) = your net worth. Chiiiiile. Right now, my net worth is but a seed waiting to bloom. The debt is real. But I have a vision for that to turn around. Calculate yours and create a vision/plan to increase and/or maintain it. To start, schedule automatic transfers into your savings account.
7. Hold Yourself Accountable.
Once you have a vision, ask yourself, ‘Are my actions increasing or decreasing my net worth?’ I’m not saying to cut the fun out of your life. I’m saying that achieving your goals will require you to be transparent with yourself. Most of all, it will require your discipline.
I hope this helps strengthen your wallet in the present and future. I love sharing tips so that you pimp the banking system, not the other way around. For more, subscribe to my YouTube channel (My BankerJets) and find me on IG (@MyBankerJets). Happy banking!
Note: COVID-19 has changed the game for many. If your finances have been negatively affected, focus on one tip at a time that may help you in this moment.
About the Author
Jeta S. Stephens
Jeta Stephens has worked in finance for the last five years. Her most recent position was a banker at one of the biggest banks in the Philadelphia region, where she was trained in lending, savings, investing and everyday financial must-knows. She recently left her banking desk to be able to educate the masses. Jeta brings a fresh, upbeat, engaging approach to the world of finance. Her goal is to educate her viewers how to pimp the money system, not let it pimp them. She utilizes everything, from traditional methods of teaching to red carpet interviews. For banking tips, follow her YouTube channel, My Banker Jets, where she educates in English and Spanish