Money can be a top source of stress for many people. Financial stress and insecurity often have a way of impacting self-confidence and taking a toll on mental health according to Jeff Sobieralski, director of financial wellness and wellbeing at Teachers Credit Union (TCU).
“With the holiday season quickly approaching, no matter how much we prepare financially and budget, oftentimes emergency events deplete savings,” Sobieralski said. “Working in the financial industry doesn’t make one immune to these challenges.”
“With four children, our household seems to have a lot of ‘financial emergencies,'" Sobieralski added. “We try to have a decent emergency fund built at all times, but financial challenges can sometimes take a toll on our emergency savings. In fact, on the day before Thanksgiving, our refrigerator quit working. On top of trying to salvage our food at that moment, we also needed to discuss how to pay for a new refrigerator. Although the timing for buying a new fridge may be good when a lot of the best annual deals happen the day after Thanksgiving, it’s still never fun to have to make a large purchase you weren’t expecting. We ended up shopping around for hours and found a great deal on a slightly imperfect scratch and dent model.”
Sobieralski said that experience has taught him the important lesson of building an emergency fund.
“The best way to fund your emergency plan is by preparing a budget,” Sobieralski said. “Preparing the budget helps you identify your spending and savings patterns, including where you can reduce spending on wants and focus on the needs. It also helps you plan to reduce debt and try to pay for things without using credit. I’ve also found that it is important to discuss finances and the budget with the whole family. It helps children understand their spending in the plan and learn how to navigate finances in the future.”
“Although it doesn’t prevent financial stress, it often helps to reduce it,” Sobieralski said. “The initial challenge is to begin building the emergency fund, determine what constitutes using those funds, and ensure that your family understands the importance of the fund.”
As director of financial wellness and wellbeing for the credit union, Sobieralski said that the specially trained staff at TCU understands the importance of financial health and can help. TCU has expanded through the years to include people from many more walks of life than just teachers and is focused on educating its members.
Banking professionals at TCU have in-depth knowledge of all types of industries, and they work with their members to provide vital financial tools. TCU’s member services team, certified financial specialists, and lending experts take the time to educate members on the ways products and services can help them move forward.
Some quick tips that may help to improve financial wellness, according to Sobieralski include:
• If you are feeling stressed about finances, before making any big decisions, try a 20-minute walk
• Create a budget/spending plan
• Set up multiple savings accounts and name them to help earmark the funds for the budget
• Set up an emergency fund
• Set goals for savings
• Plan for major purchases
• Use automatic transfers when you receive your paycheck
• Review your credit bureau scores annually for accuracy
• Consolidate, avoid new credit, and continue paying down debt
• Take advantage of round-up programs
• Raises and tax refunds should go directly to a retirement fund
• Avoid one-click purchases
• Estimate the number of hours worked to purchase an item
• Participate in financial literacy programs – TCU has free financial education programs to help people learn more through a variety of resources
TCU has more than 50 locations throughout the state of Indiana with more than 300,000 members. To find a location near you, visit tcunet.com or call (800) 552-4745 Mon-Fri, 7 a.m.-7 p.m. or Sat. 8 a.m.-1 p.m. (ET).