Ok, so we know that no one is combing the internet for the most incredible financially-focused Halloween costume but hey, maybe someone is? If nothing else, Halloween gives us a chance to brush up on some of the lessons we’ve learned throughout the year to ensure we’re as financially healthy as possible. So while none of these particular costume creations may result in a net increase in candy acquisition this year, you’ll at least be armed with some sound financial health advice. And who knows, maybe you’ll get invited to a Halloween party at an accounting firm in which case you’ll almost definitely be heading home with the first place costume trophy.
Early Tax-Filing Frankenstein
Dust off your favorite set of shoulder pads and get your green face paint ready! While Frankenstein has never been accused of being “smart”, you can buck the trend by filing your taxes early this year. Why file early? Much like 2020, 2021 has the potential to be a complicated tax filing year for many people especially with the high rate of unemployment and stimulus checks. By taking care of your taxes early, you’ll ensure you have access to a tax professional at your leisure. You’ll also be able to get your tax return back into your bank ASAP! And what better way to head into the holiday season than with a little extra cushion in your bank account?
The Debtless Horseman
While the Headless Horseman is most certainly a terrifying sight, the Debtless Horseman is a welcomed respite. Rather than living your financial life without a head on your shoulders, show off your financial literacy by doing everything you can to eradicate your debt. In addition to helping bolster your credit score, eliminating debt will help you start to save for larger purchases and dramatically reduce your overall stress. Create a budget, start paying down the highest-interest debts first, and begin chipping away at the money you owe as quickly as possible.
Frivolous Spending Ghost
Make spending without purpose a ghost of the past! If you read our blogs often you’ll know that we are always beating the “create a budget” drum so, why not parlay that into your Halloween costume as well? With the advent of quick checkout payment options and spookily accurate Instagram product targeting, spending little chunks of change here and there has never been easier. Unfortunately, those payments can add up in a hurry leaving you with a potentially frightening bank balance at the end of the month. So, build out a budget and stick to it lest you be haunted by the ghosts of an empty wallet!
Credit Utilization Witch
Leveraging credit utilization to your advantage isn’t a magical brew concocted in a cauldron. With proper planning and some budgeting, you can be riding around on a flying broom of credit utilization expertise in no time. Remember, your utilization number is the ratio between your available credit and the amount of credit you’re using. So if you have a $10,000 credit limit and you’re carrying a $5,000 balance, you’d have a utilization ratio of 50%. But remember, you want to keep that number at or below 30% in order to not negatively impact your credit score. So either start reducing that debt or increase your debt allowance to get your utilization into a better place.
A well-planned budget is the backbone of any sound financial strategy and will stop you from feeling like outside factors are sucking you dry of any progress. Establishing some realistic goals for what you want your financial future to look like will help inform the type of budgeting you can put yourself on. So figure out what’s important for you in both the short and long-term and then start putting together a plan on how to get there. Even the most basic budgeting guidelines will help ensure you don’t feel like a bat flying blindly in the night.
Card Points Zombie
What’s the point in having a rewards credit card if you amble around aimlessly not taking advantage of the benefits? Once you’ve decided which credit card makes the most sense for your lifestyle (may we suggest taking a look at the Paceline Card???), be sure to take advantage of it! Using a rewards card like a debit card (i.e. not spending more than what’s in your checking account) is a great way to start racking up points. It’s also worth identifying which purchases qualify for increased rewards and be sure to break out that plastic when you shop there. With a little planning and some strategic spending, you can be less of a financial zombie and more of a credit rewards pro.
Credit Score Skeleton
What’s scarier than a bad credit score?!? As you probably know by now, your credit score impacts almost everything that pertains to your financial fitness. Having a good score is imperative to ensure you have access to all the financial tools you need in life. Whether it’s securing a new credit card, applying for a lease, getting a car loan, or even buying a house, your credit score will be what creditors look to first. So take the necessary steps to ensure you’re maximizing your score and mitigating the factors that could be dragging it down. Pay off your debts, keep credit card balances low, and check your credit report often – it could be the difference between smooth sailing or a truly haunting financial journey.
This Halloween, make sure your costume is the scariest part of your financial wellness. Apply some of these tips to your own life and you’ll be on your way to fiscal superstardom in no time.