Money Management

Following is a wealth of information to help you manage your money more effectively. With free access to budgeting tools, financial counseling and other resources, we can truly help you achieve your financial goals.

Quick Tip

After making a budget, periodically evaluate your plan. If your plan is lacking, or your situation changes, make the necessary adjustments.

Start taking control of your financial situation by developing a monthly spending plan. It will help you make the best use of your money, ensuring you can cover all your financial needs.

A budget includes your income and expenses. It’s the expense side of the budget that always seems to be the most challenging for people. When creating a budget, start with your monthly net income. Next divide your spending up into as many expense categories as possible in order to see where your money is really going.

Quick Tip

After making a budget, periodically evaluate your plan. If your plan is lacking, or your situation changes, make the necessary adjustments.

Below are some averages for a few of the major spending categories. Keep in mind, you should track your expenses for a month to determine the right ranges for you, and as you track each month moving forward you should make adjustments to fit your needs and goals. Tracking expenses is the key to maintaining and staying within the budget you created.

How We Can Help

Online Budgeting Tools & Account Alerts – Use the free tools available in our online banking to build a budget and track your spending. Transactions can be categorized to show you where your money is going. You can also set up email or text alerts to notify you of specific balances or transactions.

Calculators – We offer a variety of online calculators to help you better manage your money and make wise financial decisions.

Free Financial Counseling – All members have free access to Accel, a money management and financial education counseling service. Certified financial counselors are available to assist you with a variety of financial needs and can provide you with worksheets and action plans to help you stay on the right course.

Budgeting Online Module - Take this short Budgeting Basics online course, offered through Accel, to learn tips for developing a budget and tracking your spending.

Free Debt & Budget Analysis - SavvyMoney Check-up is a free and completely anonymous tool you can use to set up a budget and get a detailed analysis of your debt with proposed payment schedules and personal action plans.

Checking Account Management - CheckRight is an educational module to help those who want to open their first checking account or have had difficulties handling an account in the past. Offered through Accel, CheckRight will help you learn to manage an account, maintain a transaction register and create a spending plan.

Your credit record is the most important factor lenders consider when you apply to borrow money for any reason. It also plays a role in having your utilities connected, renting an apartment, or even getting a job. Building good credit is key to reaching financial independence.

Since your credit history plays a vital role in everything from routine matters such as having your utilities connected to securing financing for a computer, car or home, it is important to establish credit and maintain good payment practices.

Steps to Build / Rebuild Your Credit
  • Open a savings and checking account. Showing you can manage your account over time can show a lender you’re ready to handle the responsibility of a loan.
  • Pay your bills on time. Late payments will negatively impact your credit history.
  • Get a secured loan or credit card. If you are not ready or cannot qualify for an unsecured credit card, a secured loan can help you establish credit using funds secured in your savings account.
  • When starting to use you first credit card, make small charges and pay the balance in full each month. The goal isn’t to use it to buy things you don’t have the cash for, but to begin building a good credit history and instill wise habits.

Credit Reports & Scores

Since the information on your credit report is so important, you should review what is included on your report regularly. You can get a free copy from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) every 12 months at www.annualcreditreport.com. This is the ONLY authorized online source for you to get a free credit report under federal law.

Along with your credit report, lenders will also look at your credit score. This determines your credit risk at that particular point in time. If reflects your credit patterns over time and will change as new information is added.

The most common model for credit scoring is the FICO score. FICO scores range from 300 to 850. Higher scores can mean lower interest rates, while lower ones can mean rejection when applying for a loan. To get an estimate on the range of your credit score, use our Credit Score Calculator.

How We Can Help

Credit Card – A Palmetto Citizens Visa® Credit Card can be a great tool in establishing your credit because of it’s low rate and no hidden fees.

Share Secured Loan - A secured loan is a great option to establish credit for the first time or improve your credit history. The loan is secured against money deposited in your savings account and the loan's activity is reported to the credit bureaus. As you repay the loan, you gain access to your secured funds.

Free Financial Counseling – All members have free access to Accel, a money management and financial education counseling service. Certified financial counselors are available to assist you with a variety of financial needs and can provide you with worksheets and action plans to help you stay on the right course.

Credit Report & Score Module - Take this short Credit Reports and Scores online course, offered through Accel, to help you understand the information on a credit report and how a credit score is calculated.

Calculators – We offer a variety of online calculators to help you better manage your money and make wise financial decisions.

Quick Tip

As a rule of thumb, your debt, excluding your home, should not exceed 20% of your take-home pay.

Palmetto Citizens is here to help if you need relief from growing debt. We will work with you to find solutions right for your financial situation. In addition to the no cost financial counseling service through Accel and our online calculators, we offer several products and services to help put you on the path to financial freedom.

Quick Tip

As a rule of thumb, your debt, excluding your home, should not exceed 20% of your take-home pay.

Credit provides many benefits, such as allowing you to spread out payments over time, but it can be expensive if not used wisely. Always keep in mind the actual cost of your purchase(s) over time due to the interest you will pay.

The following chart shows the interest you will pay each year if your average daily balance is $1,000, $3,000 or $5,000 depending on your interest rate.

Paying Down Debt: Debt Snowball vs Debt Avalanche

When you’ve accumulated debt across multiple loans and credit cards, paying off balances can seem daunting. There are two common strategies, both aggressively paying down one account at a time while making the minimum payments on all of your other accounts. The difference is how each plan chooses to prioritize the accounts that get paid down first:

  • Debt Snowball: This method involves focusing all of your extra money on the smallest balance you owe. Each time you pay off a debt, you have one less minimum payment to make. As you eliminate your smaller debts, you take the money that was going toward those debts and fold it in to make larger payments on your larger balances. The debt snowball plan helps you build confidence and positive repayment habits by prioritizing the "easy" debts first.
  • Debt Avalanche: This method involves paying off your balances with the highest interest rates first, generally saving you the most money. When you don't pay off these debts, they continue to accrue and compound interest. As you eliminate your highest interest debts, you take the money that was going toward those debts and fold it in to make larger payments on your next highest interest loan or credit card.

To determine which method is best for you, take a good look at your personal financial situation and be very upfront with yourself. If you find it easy to defer instant gratification in favor of future benefits, then debt avalanche is probably going to be the repayment plan for you. However, if you find it difficult to stay focused on long-term goals, and especially if you've had a hard time paying down large balances in the past, debt snowball can be a great way to build responsible repayment habits through small, manageable steps. Use our Debt Consolidation Calculator or Accelerated Debt Payoff Calculator to help determine how you can pay down your debt faster.

How We Can Help

Free Debt Analysis - SavvyMoney Check-up is a free and completely anonymous tool you can use to get a detailed analysis of your debt with proposed payment schedules and personal action plans.

Free Financial Counseling – All members have free access to Accel, a money management and financial education counseling service. Certified financial counselors are available to assist you with a variety of financial needs and can provide you with worksheets and action plans to help you stay on the right course.

Credit Report & Score Module - Take this short Credit Reports and Scores online course, offered through Accel, to help you understand the information on a credit report and how a credit score is calculated.

Calculators – We offer a variety of online calculators to help you better manage your money and make wise financial decisions.

Loan Solutions – Contact one of our loan specialists today to discuss the options available to you such as lower interest rates, debt consolidation, equity loans and other low-cost solutions.

Quick Fact

Nearly 30% of Americans do not have any money saved to cover emergency expenses.

Saving now will help you achieve your dreams later - whether they are three months or thirty years down the road. However, it’s not enough to just dream about your financial aspirations; if you want to achieve them, you’ll need to set goals.

Quick Fact

Nearly 30% of Americans do not have any money saved to cover emergency expenses.

You can achieve your goals by creating a plan and making savings a part of your personal financial budget. At Palmetto Citizens, we can provide you with in-depth knowledge on a variety of saving and investment options designed to help you reach those goals. You can also use our Savings Goal Calculator to help you determine how long it will take to achieve your goal.

Pay Yourself First

To pay yourself first means simply that - before you pay your bills, before you buy groceries, before you do anything else, set aside a portion of your income to save.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to set up an automatic payroll deduction into your savings every time you get paid. When you plan to save, the “expense” called savings becomes a routine bill that you “pay” each month.

Emergency Savings

Most financial experts agree that keeping 3-6 months of expenses in an emergency savings account is solid financial guidance. Having a safety net can help minimize worry, protect against uncertainty and give you access to cash rather than having to use credit.

To begin building this fund, start with $1,000, even if you must pay only the minimum on all bills. If your income is low you may settle for $500, or if it’s over $50,000, you might want to choose $2,000. After you have paid off any outstanding debts, you should start building your emergency fund up to 3-6 months living expenses.

Create your emergency savings fund before you begin investing for other financial goals. Keep these funds in a liquid account, like a savings or money market account, where you have immediate access without having to pay any penalties. If you have to use the funds for an emergency, make sure you replenish the funds as quickly as possible.

How We Can Help

Savings Accounts – Since we’re not-for-profit, we can offer you higher savings rates on a variety of different accounts. Talk to a representative today to find out what strategy is best for you.

Palmetto Citizens Trust & Investment ServicesContact a representative today to set up your no-cost, no-obligation consultation to discuss your financial goals, risk tolerance and investment timelines.

Calculators – We offer a variety of online calculators to help you better manage your money and make wise financial decisions.

Online Budgeting Tools – Use the free tools available in our online banking to build a budget and track your spending. Transactions can be categorized to see where your money is being spent and to help you budget.

Free Financial Counseling – All members have free access to Accel, a money management and financial education counseling service. Certified financial counselors are available to assist you with a variety of financial needs and can provide you with worksheets and action plans to help you stay on the right course.