Getting Your Finances Ready For 2018

2018 is here – are you ready?

Usher in the new year with plans for financial improvement and resolutions to meet your goals.

Here are some tips to get you started:

Fine tune your budget

It’s great to start off the new year with a plan. A budget is just that—a plan that starts with the income you expect and your fixed expenses such as mortgage payments, insurance and utilities. The plan incorporates your savings goals, and the remaining money is designated for your other expenses. A realistic budget will help you set your financial goals and will remind you to stick to them. Now is the perfect time to assess last year’s budget or create a new one if you don’t yet have one in place.

Reviewing how you spent last year’s money will help you make better financial decisions for the year ahead. While thinking about it, include a method for tracking your spending. You can do this on a spreadsheet or tag items in your checking account. There are also a variety of apps to make budgeting easier.

Even with a solid plan, there can be surprises along the way, so be sure to build an emergency fund into your budget.

Plan ahead to meet your goals

Consider how you will accomplish your goals. You might have shorter-term goals, such as purchasing a new home, as well as longer-term goals, like retirement. Each set of goals requires different kinds of planning and saving.

Financial planners recommend setting up a separate savings account for each goal. This way, your progress toward that goal is clear.

It’s best to work backward for determining how much you need to save for each goal. Determine the cost of your goal and then establish a reasonable time-frame as well as how much you’ll need to save each month to reach it.

Spend mindfully

Make your financial future more secure this year by identifying your wants versus your needs. Your needs are necessary for survival and include food and shelter. Your wants are simply things you desire – like a luxury car. Tend to your needs first. Then, if there is money remaining, consider your wants.

This might sound obvious, but for many of us, the lines between wants and needs can easily become blurred.

Maximize tax contributions

Tax deductions can be a valuable source of savings. If you have employer-matching funds available, take advantage of them. Also, verify with your HR contact and your accountant that you are contributing the optimal amount to your 401K and IRA.

Check your flexible savings account (FSA)

If you have unspent money in your FSA, now is the time to use it. Your pre-tax dollars in such accounts typically need to be spent before the end of the year or they are lost.

Put the brakes on holiday spending

Avoid going overboard on holiday spending or you might spend the beginning of the year trying to pay it all back.

These are just a few of the many ways you can prepare financially for the coming year. With a little attention to some often-overlooked details, a little perseverance and a little mindfulness throughout, you’ll be moving forward with a strong foundation and positive outlook.

What are some of the things that you’re doing to prepare for 2018? Share them with us in the comments!


The Recovering Spender – Lauren Greutman









In The Recovering Spender, Lauren Greutman draws on her own life experience to teach invaluable lessons about living within your means.

To outsiders, Lauren and her husband, Mark, appeared as though they were living a charmed life. As she says, “On the surface, we had it all. Custom home, luxury cars, beautiful babies, and all the bells and whistles…” But disaster lurked beneath the surface.

Though the Greutmans seemed like they had more than enough for all their necessities and many luxuries, they were living way beyond their means simply to keep up with the neighbors. Too soon, they found themselves with a mortgage that had not been paid in months, their car seized and sky-high debt that reached $40,000.

Their dream had become an awful nightmare.

Through a long journey of recreating their relationship with money and spending, the Greutmans arrived at where they are today: back in the black and fully committed to spending less while living within their budget.

In The Recovering Spender, Greutman details the steps she and her family took to pull it off. She shares her hard-earned tips and practical advice to help others who find themselves ending each month with a deficit that keeps growing.

Lauren also shares many of her personal struggles in ways relatable to readers to help them learn from her mistakes. It’s easier for an over-stressed mom who never feels like she can stretch the dollar far enough to take tips from another mom who’s been there, than it is to heed advice from a financial expert who’s never experienced anxiety about being able to pay for groceries.

The book also takes readers through the process of going from being in the red to living completely debt-free, offering a step-by-step guide with actions readers can take immediately as they work their way through the book.

Some of the actionable chapters in the book include:

  1. Take an Inventory of Your Spending.
  2. Declutter Your Finances.
  3. Do an Expense Audit.
  4. Curb Your Spending and Define Your Values.

Most importantly, The Recovered Spender is a guide for getting off the path of debt, and living happily within your means.

Can you relate to Lauren’s experience? Have you successfully changed your spending habits? We want to hear from you. Share your story in the comments!


10 Ways to Make Extra Money From Home

Whether you’re saving for a vacation or just want to have a little more cash in your rainy day fund, we want to offer ideas to help you reach your goals. We’ve put together a list of easy ways to make extra money at home so a lack of funds doesn’t keep you from achieving your objectives. Keep reading for more.


The school year will be starting before we know it and with that comes students needing assistance with a variety of topics. From math and reading to helping with instruments, your expertise is valuable. Utilize your skills to help a student learn.


Another option for creative types is photography! Submitting your pictures to stock photo sites is a fun and artistic way to make some extra cash. If you want up to brush up on your photography skills to make this an option, visit your local public library to see if they may offer free classes.


If family and friends always rave about your cookies and cakes, why not take what you’re naturally good at and turn it into a business? You’ll be immersed in something you love and can make money doing it. Make sure to look up your county’s rules on food based home businesses before you get started.

Online surveys

If getting paid to share your opinion interests you then online surveys may be something to try. Many companies look to shoppers for feedback on the products and services they offer. Providing your thoughts can help improve a service, and you’ll get compensated for doing it.

Freelance writing/editorial work

If you’re the creative type and are good with words, freelance writing and editorial work may be right up your alley. There are many opportunities to be found from ghost writing blogs and articles to editing manuscripts. You can even take a look at your favorite magazine’s editorial calendar and consider submitting articles to be published.


This option is great if you’re a stay at home parent. While you may have your hands full with your own children, watching after a few more for a fee can help bring in some much needed extra cash. If you have the space and energy, this is a lively option that will ensure you stay busy throughout the day.

Online jury

Did you know there’s such a thing as online jurors? As part of an online jury you provide opinions and feedback on potential cases that attorneys are working on. If you’re interested in the legal system this may help provide a little insight into the jury process.


Are you a master crafter? If you are skilled at making clothes or jewelry, knitting, embroidery, crocheting, monogramming or any other craft, selling your creations can prove to be a worthwhile endeavor. The website Etsy is a great starting point for a side business like this.

Customer service

Many companies hire home based service representatives to provide assistance to their customers. This is a common way to make extra money from home. Before you sign up for a gig like this be sure to check with the Better Business Bureau for additional information on the credibility of the company.

Garage Sale

What better way to make money and get rid of stuff you been meaning to clean out than a garage sale? The saying goes, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” You may have some hidden gems in your home that neighbors and visitors will be willing to dish out cash for.

Now that you have some ideas on how to add a little extra cash to your wallet, you can put the extra money you make aside in one of our savings accounts. You can establish any number of *share savings accounts at Insight Credit Union and watch your money grow for whatever purpose you choose such as a vacation, new car, or holiday shopping.

Have you had success with any of the options above? Share your story in the comments below.

*Federally Insured by NCUA