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Budgeting and Saving Moves in the New Year: Interview with Melanie Weir


By: Treacy Colbert, Brand Ave. Studios Contributing Writer

Budgeting and Saving Moves in the New Year: Interview with Melanie Weir

You may be contemplating healthy resolutions for 2024, like walking more, eating more fresh food or dropping a few pounds. But did you know that improving your financial health by budgeting and saving can boost your physical and emotional health? Like any stress, financial pressure takes a physical and mental toll. Here are some simple ways to ease financial worry and move toward economic well-being in the new year.

Where Does Your Money Go?

The first step toward better financial health is to track your spending, according to Melanie Weir, Vice President and Deposit Operations Manager of First Federal Bank. “Many people don’t take the time to track their spending, and they’re surprised when they do,” Weir said. “They can usually identify areas where they can limit spending and redirect that money toward savings, even if it’s something like giving up one or two trips to the coffee shop.” First Federal’s online banking app makes it easy to keep tabs on expenses, she said.

Make Saving a Priority

“It’s never too late to start saving, whether you’re starting out in your career or thinking about retirement,” Weir said. “Decide to make saving a priority and set goals.” A good goal is to have at least three months’ worth of expenses saved. “One in three people have some savings, but not enough to cover three months,” she said. A three-month financial cushion means that an unexpected car or appliance repair or an injury that prevents you from working won’t throw you into a financial tailspin.

Pay Yourself First

“Set up an automatic transfer from your checking account to savings every payday, even if it’s only $10 to start,” Weir advised. “Once you develop the habit of saving, it sticks with you, and you have the satisfaction of seeing your rainy day fund grow.” If an unexpected expense derails your savings temporarily, don’t be discouraged, Weir said. “The important thing is to recommit and keep saving.”

Round-Up Program Saves Your Change

With First Federal’s Round-Up program, each debit card transaction is rounded up to the nearest dollar, and that amount goes to your savings account. For instance, if you swipe your debit card for a $4.25 latte, the amount is rounded up to $5 and the extra 75 cents goes to your savings account.

“People love this feature and are surprised by how quickly their savings account grows,” Weir said. “It’s the equivalent of the change jar people had when they paid with cash and tossed the change into a jar.” The Round-Up program automatically adds your “change” to your savings. No jar, no rolling coins — you save instantly every time you use your debit card.

Get Help With Super Saving

First Federal’s mission is to increase customers’ financial well-being, Weir said. The bank created a SuperSaver account with no minimum balance and high interest rates as part of fulfilling that mission, Weir explained. “People’s financial needs change over a lifetime, and our community bankers are here to help.” Whether you’re just beginning to save or looking to increase your existing nest egg, Weir said that First Federal bankers can help identify the best way to achieve your goals.

“Stop by any branch any time,” Weir said. “We meet people where they are at financially, working with them to enhance their financial well-being.”

Melanie Weir, Vice President and Deposit Operations Manager