Opinion: Your opportunity to hit the financial reset button starts now

Kristen Gillis, OnPoint Community Credit Union
Kristen Gillis, OnPoint Community Credit Union

Kristen Gillis of OnPoint Community Credit Union shares five tips for reviewing and updating your personal finances for 2023

Kristen Gillis, branch manager
OnPoint Community Credit Union Mill Plain Branch

A clean slate. A reset button. New year, new you. Whatever you like to call it, January is the perfect time to start anew and reflect on where you’ve been and where you want to go.

Part of this reflection process should include reviewing your finances. The uncertainty of our economy makes this exercise even more timely. Interest rate hikes and stubbornly high consumer prices continue to drain family budgets. Take the start of the new year as an opportunity to evaluate your financial situation, ask important questions and make adjustments that will prepare you financially for whatever is to come.

As the manager of OnPoint Community Credit Union’s Mill Plain Branch, I work with people in our community every day to help them map out their finances, overcome challenges and achieve their goals. Here are five tips I share with them for reviewing and updating their personal finances for 2023:

1. Audit and reset. Conduct a financial inventory to help you identify the gaps you need to close. Areas to review include your credit reports, estate plans, retirement progress, insurance coverage and emergency funds.

Then ask yourself some critical questions: can you continue to spend as we did last year? Or do you need to make adjustments? Your financial institution can help you work through these if you need additional guidance or outside perspective.

2. Give every dollar a job. After you develop a clear picture of your financial outlook, reprioritize based on your goals and the broader economic picture, and reallocate where needed. One easy way to think about this is to give every dollar a job, earmarking where your money is being spent, saved or invested.

3. Digitize and organize. Make 2023 the year you modernize your finances with digital copies of your documents. Invest in a good scanner or mobile app and save your records in secure, organized and accessible computer files. Be thoughtful about naming each document file so it’s easy to find. Feeling overwhelmed by anything digital? Ask tech-savvy family members or friends for help.

4. Create family goals. Discuss your decisions with those impacted and create shared goals. Our major family priorities each year are one big vacation and Christmas. We have already started planning for 2023’s holidays now. My husband, two kids and I talk about what type of trip and major new purchases we want. Then we scan for prices, create a budget and identify how much we need to save.

I keep my kids involved throughout the year, explaining, for instance, that we’re not going to the movies because we need vacation funds that week.

5. Go easy on yourself. While the current economy presents financial challenges, OnPoint encourages people to avoid putting undue stress on themselves. View this as a process that should be taken one step at a time rather than a to-do list that must all be done right away. Understanding your financial outlook and making proactive adjustments can help reduce financial anxiety and set you up for a more financially sustainable new year.

Above all, no one should have to think about their financial future alone. Talk openly with your partner and children or seek out financial experts for advice. At OnPoint’s Mill Plain Branch, we think of our members as family. And we’re here to help. Come by any time.

Kristen Gillis is the branch manager of OnPoint Community Credit Union’s Mill Plain Branch. She has served in this role for five years and has been with the credit union for 11 years.

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