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August 12, 2021
New to Budgeting? Get Started with Three Simple Steps
About 58% of people report that they feel comfortable creating a personal budget.1 We want to help that number reach 100%! Everyone can benefit from using a budget, no matter your financial circumstances. Using a monthly budget will help you jump-start your savings, pay off debt more quickly and make progress toward your financial goals. Ready to make your budget? Follow these three steps to get started:
Step 1: Determine income and expenses.
The first step to any budget is to evaluate income versus expenses. It’s time to examine your spending habits with a fine-toothed comb. What are your essential expenses that recur and are expected each month? Think rent, utilities, groceries, insurance and payments on loans or other debt. Now, assess your discretionary spending. Are there any areas where you could reduce or eliminate an expense? Some things that often fly under the radar are subscription services, memberships we don’t use as often as we think, frequent dining out and other forms of entertainment. Another sneaky cost that can add up? Late fees on missed payments. By planning ahead for the budgeted expenses on your calendar, your budget can help you manage the flow of money to minimize or even eliminate late fees.
Once you’ve calculated money in versus money out, you’ll have an idea of how you’re currently operating. Then, you can decide if any adjustments to your spending patterns are needed to meet your individual financial goals.
Step 2: Choose a budgeting plan.
Armed with the information about your financial habits, you can create a budgeting plan that works for you. These are the two most popular budgeting methods:
- Zero-based budget: Also called the envelope method or zero-sum budget, this strategy is simple: give every dollar a job. You designate all income for specific spending categories — rent, utilities, groceries, insurance, healthcare, debt payments, entertainment, etc. — making sure your income minus expenditures equals zero at the end of the month. This method can help you resist the temptation to overspend, since each amount is preplanned, and allows you to visualize your spending clearly. It’s also one of the best ways to pay down debt quickly and meet savings goals. However, this strategy can feel a bit too constraining for the free spirits out there who still want some flexibility and may not work for every lifestyle.
- 50/30/20 plan: With this classic strategy, you allot your income in larger batches, which allows for a bit more flexibility on the details throughout the month — 50% for essentials, 30% for discretionary wants and 20% for savings and debt. This plan can be an excellent option for getting you in the savings mindset without being stifling, since you still get to spend a third on the fun things in life. For an extra boost to tackle debt more quickly, you can swap the “wants” with “savings and debt” categories, spending only 20% on wants and instead putting that extra 10% toward paying down debt.
There are several other budgeting strategies out there too. We’re happy with whichever method you pick if it allows you to budget in a way that fits your life and your financial goals. The most important thing is sticking to the budget and adapting it as needed to fit your life.
Step 3: Put saving on auto pilot.
Among the best things you can do for your current and future self is automating your savings. The simplest way is to take a set percentage out of each paycheck, so you don’t miss it. Well, maybe you’ll miss it a bit at first, but since you’ve planned to save in your budget, it’ll get easier over time. You’ll want to begin saving as soon as possible so the money can have time to potentially grow because time is your biggest ally when it comes to saving a nest-egg. (Learn more about how to make time work for you when saving.)
Why should you budget?
If you’re having trouble committing to a budget, don’t be discouraged. The transition from freeform spending to budgeting does take some getting used to, but we encourage you that it’ll be worthwhile. By sticking to your budget, you’ll be able to reach financial goals faster and feel more confident in your purchasing decisions.
Need a little help tracking spending? Try the Budgets tool in Grow online and mobile banking!2 You can create personalized budgets for each of your accounts and watch where your money is going, whether you’re spending it on food or gas or birthday shopping. Check it out!
1According to 2020 Clutch survey. Accessed July 26, 2021.
2Additional data charges may apply when using apps. Please see your wireless carrier for more information.
How to Find Your Routing & Account Numbers
When you make a payment online, by phone or on a mobile device, you may be asked for our routing number and your checking account number. Credit unions and banks use these numbers to identify accounts and make sure money gets where it’s supposed to be. You’ll also need to provide your routing and checking account numbers for:
- Direct deposits
- Electronic checks
- Military allotments
- Wire transfers
Where to Find Your Routing & Checking Account Numbers
Your personal checks include both our routing number and your account number, as shown on the Grow check example below.
Don’t have a Grow check? No worries.
Visit any Grow store and ask for a Direct Deposit Form. It lists both your routing number and checking account number.
Making a Loan Payment
When it comes to making payments, we try to make it as painless as possible to pay your loan every month. We have several different ways to pay, including convenient online options.
You have two ways to pay online by transferring funds from another bank or credit union.
- Grow Online Banking (Preferred payment method for any loan)
This is the simplest way to pay your loan. You can make one-time payments or set up automatic recurring payments in Grow Online Banking. Once you log in, select “Transfer/Payments” from the menu. If you’re not enrolled in Grow Online Banking yet, you can set up your account in just a few minutes.
- Debit Card or ACH (Available for auto, personal loans and HELOCs)
Note: ACH and debit card payments are not available for credit cards or most mortgages, except HELOCs.
We accept ACH payments with no additional fees or Mastercard® and Visa® debit cards with a convenience fee of $4.95. To get started with an online ACH or debit card payment, select Pay Now below.
Pay by Mail
You can also pay any Grow loan by check through the mail. Please remember to include your account number and Grow loan number on the check. (For credit card payments, please do not write your 16-digit credit card number on the check, which can cause a delay in processing the payment.)
Address for auto, credit card, personal loan and HELOC payments:
Grow Financial Federal Credit Union
P.O. Box 75466
Chicago, IL 60675-5466
Address for personal first or second mortgages and home equity payments:
Grow Financial Federal Credit Union
P.O. Box 11733
Newark, NJ 07101-4733