6 simple steps to take control of your finances

(BPT) - As we say goodbye to the holidays and hello to a new decade, it comes as no surprise that money is the No. 1 driver of stress for many of us in the Midwest. That’s according to the inaugural Midwest Money Mindset Survey conducted by Huntington.

The survey found that 50% of participants cited money and finances as the top driver of stress, ahead of family and personal relationships, employment and health. The survey also dug into the reasons for that stress and found a silver lining: many people are taking steps to take control of their financial well-being. Take a look at these stats:

  • Compared to a year ago, 68% of participants are either saving more money or the same amount.
  • More than half of participants (56%) have a retirement account.
  • Almost two-thirds of survey participants (64%) have established a “rainy day fund.”

Andy Harmening, senior executive vice president, Consumer and Business Banking director for Huntington, says personal finances don’t need to be overwhelming. He offers the simple ways to better understand and manage your personal finances in 2020 and beyond:

Look at the complete picture: Find out who you owe, interest rates, late fees and timing. Then determine how much is coming in and out each month and understand your investment opportunities and tax picture. Talk to your partner, dependents or other family members and get on the same page.

Track your behaviors: Cashless and one-click spending can make it hard to see where your money is going, especially those small purchases that compound quickly. Sophisticated online banking solutions, such as Huntington’s new Spend Analysis tool, can give you an eye-opening look into how your spending adds up so you can make smart adjustments.

Automate as much as possible: Direct deposits and automatic bill payments ensure nothing gets overlooked or falls through the cracks in spending and saving. Not to mention, paying bills on time every time helps you maintain a good credit history and boosts your credit score.

Make a plan for debt: From basic control of your budget to plans for consolidating debt and negotiating with creditors, there are many ways to handle debt. Decide which works best for you and take steps to bring debt down. Then, make changes to avoid additional debt. A tool like Huntington Heads Up helps you do this by alerting you about areas where you've over spent and might want to pull back.

Set goals: It’s never too early to begin your long-term planning for retirement, which should be top of the list for most Americans. Near-term goal planning is essential as well, so keeping your attention on a down payment for a home or reducing credit card debt can help to keep you motivated — as long as you’re balancing your short- and long-term goals.

Stay focused: Money can be complicated, and it's easy to slip up here and there. If you make a mistake, don't throw in the towel on the progress you’ve made. Regain your focus and stay on track. Your momentum will benefit you in countless ways, from reduced stress and improved confidence to a bigger bank account and more.

"With our Midwest Money Mindset survey, we not only know that managing personal finances is a top concern of Americans today, but we're pleased to see people taking action to help manage this incredibly important part of their lives," Harmening said. “We’re glad Huntington can be part of the solution people are looking for as they improve their financial health.”

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