Financial health: tools to help reach your goals
Similar to trying out a new fitness regimen, getting financially fit might require patience. It can take time to see results.
Establishing good financial habits takes time. Consistency is equally important: Just as going to the gym regularly can help you feel better and get stronger, building good money-management habits may also pay off over time. Get clear on where you stand with your money and develop a financial wellness mindset as a foundation for strong lifelong habits.
But how do you start? To avoid feeling overwhelmed, take a day-by-day approach. Try a few of the ideas below and then add more as your routine evolves.
Regularly review your credit score and your credit history
This is so important! Why? Because your credit history and score may affect things like your bills and car insurance. Regularly checking this information for red flags may help protect you from identity theft and other situations that could harm your credit score.
Here’s how to do it: First, check your FICO Credit Score. Wells Fargo Online® customers can get their credit score for free, plus score factors and more.1 Next, go to AnnualCreditReport.com to request free copies of your credit report. You can get one free report a year from each of the three major credit-reporting agencies (Equifax®, Experian®, and TransUnion®). Pro tip: ask for each agency report one at a time, every four months, which will give you more-frequent free check-ins.
Set up alerts for your bills
Missing bill payments is likely to cost you fees and hurt your credit score. Keep up with payment deadlines by creating account alerts, using auto pay through online Bill Pay, or setting up automatic payments with a debit or credit card.
Track and categorize your spending for three months
Tracking spending helps you visualize your financial picture and notice areas where you can cut back. Monitor expenses with tools like My Spending Report. It automatically sorts expenditures into familiar categories (like shopping, entertainment, etc.). Once you can get a feel for where your money is going, you can adjust as needed.
Set a monthly budget and spending limits
Use what you learn about your spending habits to create a budget. Set spending goals by category and stick to them throughout the year. Tools like Budget Watch can help you create a personalized budget and track expenses.
Make sure you know where your money is going
If you’re a Wells Fargo customer, review the Card Settings on the mobile banking app to evaluate any recurring payments you make to retailers and merchants so you can adjust them accordingly. For example, if you rarely use a streaming service that you’re paying $9.99 a month for, cancel it.
Create a plan for getting rid of debt
Your debt-reduction strategy should include paying off debt with the highest interest rates first. You may also want to look into consolidating student loans after you graduate and begin repayment. Writing down your debt-reduction plan can help you stick to it — and remember, set realistic goals!
Any time you get a cash gift or paycheck, put 15% into savings
Rather than splurging, put 15% of incoming money aside as savings. Whether you bank the funds for a “want,” such as travel, or for emergency expenses, such as car repairs, this savings can help provide you with financial flexibility. Setting a goal of $500 could be a good starting place.
Use your calendar to predict expenses
As you fill your calendar with events and activities for the year, be mindful of how much they’ll cost. If you’re planning a summer break trip or studying abroad next semester, start saving now. Tools like My Savings Plan® can help you create goals and track progress.
Strive for a $0 day
Keep long-term goals in mind when you make financial choices. Saving plans are personal and are most effective and achievable when you decide — based on your own financial situation, savings goals, and priorities — the best ways to save. For example, if you’re a foodie, that might mean cooking meals at home instead of eating out. For others it might mean avoiding impulse buys (no matter how cute those shoes are), or looking for free entertainment. As you find your rhythm with your savings plan, you may find this so easy that you try a no-spend month!
Keep learning new financial concepts
Information is empowering. There is always more to learn about money management, especially with new obligations like paying off student loans or negotiating your first salary. Sign up for the Beyond College webinar series to learn about topics like these and to find additional information about professional development and financial wellness.
Check out Your Financial Health Toolkit, a list of resources designed to help provide personalized guidance