One of the greatest lessons of a new school year may be in the first day. It’s an annual reminder that we can always make a new beginning. You don’t have to be the best, but you have to try your best, I tell my kids each year. And as the bus rolls off to school on that first day, I kind of feel that I get a new beginning, too.
In years past, I’ve challenged myself to use the new school year to achieve personal goals: lose ten pounds, clear out the attic, catch up on unfinished projects. Always, my goal was to be in a better place by that last day of school in June.
If you are one of the many Hanscom FCU members working on financial goals, perhaps the new school year can be your start. Decide where you hope to be in June and set up a plan to get there. For example, if you are interested in strengthening your retirement savings, take the next nine months to read about investments, take courses, change savings habits, and talk to advisers.
Here is how to make it work. Use the abundance of free information and guidance that is available. It only makes sense that I’m going to recommend you start with your credit union. But I do so sincerely because I know the artillery of free, no-agenda material available to help you, no matter how big or small your financial goals. Here is a library to get you started:
- BALANCE — This service provides free financial counseling. The website links to articles, worksheets, videos, calculators and counselors to help you put together a plan.
- Lunch and Learns — These local seminars are presented by Hanscom FCU and provide an expert to answer your questions in an intimate classroom setting. There is no cost to attend. Lunch (and in some cases, breakfast) is provided.
- Credit Score Reviews — Have you ever reviewed a credit report? It can be intimidating if you don’t understand the many pages of code. We know that and are ready to sit with you to review your report and explain how to read it. This is a must-do starting point for setting financial goals.
- Products — Credit unions generally offer lower loan rates and higher savings rates than banks. This is because credit unions are not-for-profit organizations that return surplus income to their members. Take time to explore our website to see the many products available to you.
- Reference Material — Our e-brochures and blogs are written to answer frequently asked questions on a variety of financial topics such as buying a home, finding an affordable car loan, and creating a budget.
And, of course, you can walk into any of our branches to speak with a member service representative. Each can help you find answers to your questions about products and services.
As this new school year begins, maybe we should look at creating a new financial plan as a term paper to be completed by June. Spend the year asking tough questions, collecting data, and starting to put things in order. I have confidence that you will find, as our kids do, there are people to meet, things to learn and teachers to help along the way.
Remember, you don’t have to be the best, but trying your best is going to put you in a better place when school lets out for summer. That’s one of the great lessons of the new school year.