Guest article from MINES’ Trainer and Financial Coaching Partner Michelle Vullo

When it comes to your personal finances, getting and staying ahead is crucial. All too often, an unexpected bill, car repair, or even a trip to the vet with your pet can derail your best attempts to stay financially strong. Fortunately, there are workplace resources and steps you can take to get ahead financially so you’re prepared for whatever comes your way.

Utilize Mines’ Employee Assistance Program (EAP) financial counseling

benefits for free help. Your EAP can connect you with a financial counselor to coach you and help you to get your finances in order. The financial coach can work with you to create a personalized plan outlining steps to get ahead such as establishing an emergency fund, paying down debt, boosting your credit score, and maximizing your retirement plan contributions.

Establish an emergency fund. Experts suggest having between six and nine months’ worth of expenses saved in an easily accessible account in case of an emergency. To reach that goal, deposit a portion of your paycheck directly into your emergency account. Be sure to make a list of those ‘emergencies’ that justify using your emergency funds so that you don’t deplete your savings on ‘nice to have items’ and not true emergencies.

Many clients send money each month to their emergency savings account, but end up raiding those funds constantly for everyday expenses. If you find you need to withdraw your savings monthly, work with a financial coach to determine the ideal amount to add to your emergency savings account without sacrificing the money you need to make ends meet.

Pay down debt. Concentrate on one credit card at a time – the one with the highest interest rate – and make the minimum payments on all your other credit cards. Try to designate extra funds to pay down the credit card you are focused on, for example, when you get a raise at work, send those funds to pay down the credit card. Also, try forgoing dining out for one week and send the funds you saved directly to your highest interest credit card instead. You can make multiple payments to your credit cards throughout the month.

Boost your credit score. Well before you buy a car or a house, be sure that your credit score is the best it can be. Although timely payments are crucial for a good credit score, your utilization rate (the balance as a percentage of your card’s credit limit) is also important. Try to keep each card’s utilization rate below 30% so that it doesn’t drag your credit score down. For other ways to boost your credit score, contact a financial coach for personal guidance.

Maximize retirement plan contributions. Increase your retirement savings now and you’ll reap the benefits when you retire. Be sure to contribute at least as much as your company’s retirement plan contribution match so that you don’t forfeit ‘free’ money. For extra retirement savings, consult with a financial coach to determine the best strategy for your situation.

Getting ahead financially can reduce your stress and provide peace of mind. If you would like assistance, contact Mines for free financial coaching.

To Your Wellbeing,

The MINES Team

Michelle Vullo, is an Accredited Financial Counselor with Enrich Finance. She provides free financial counseling sessions for employees eligible for MINES and Associates’ EAP services. Call MINES at (800) 873-7138 or visit online and request sessions with Michelle at Enrich.