You know better than anyone: There’s never a dull moment in the life of an educator. It’s exciting and rewarding, but it can be a challenge when you need a minute to sort out the tough stuff—like finances. Luckily, you don’t need to put life on pause to get a handle on your budget. Your NEA membership can help you start small with these solutions from NEA Member Benefits.
1. Consolidate and pay down debt
Consolidation can help you save on interest and stay organized by lowering the number of bills you pay each month. A lower rate can help you pay it down faster, which could make this a better long-term solution than making minimum payments on multiple accounts. With one affordable monthly payment, the NEA Personal Loan is one way to keep track of debt and reduce high-interest payments. Learn more about ways you can consolidate debt.
If you have student loans: Benefits that exist with federal student loans (such as public service forgiveness and income-based repayment plans) could be forfeited if you consolidate them into a private loan. Before you even think about taking that step, check your federal student loan forgiveness eligibility status and learn how to reduce or eliminate your student loan payments by contacting CEA Member Benefits provider Cambridge Credit Counseling.
2. Create a budget
First, determine your spending habits by laying out income, regular bills, and other costs. Use the interactive workbook Build Your Budget in 6 Easy Steps to get started. Once you understand where your money is going, you can start saving—an NEA Smart Money Account makes it easy with a blend of banking and investing.
3. Review your credit reports
Check your credit report at least once a year using a reputable source, such as annualcreditreport.com. You can also get your FICO score for free if you have an NEA credit card from Bank of America. Test your credit smarts today and learn why optimizing your credit score is so important.
4. Automate payments
Putting bills on autopilot can help you avoid accruing late fees or missing payments—which can mean fewer hits to your credit score. Many banks now include money management, budgeting, and recurring-payment tools with their home-banking accounts.
5. Have an emergency plan
When unexpected life events pop up, having a plan can help keep your everyday finances more stable. Learn how to plan for these six common emergency expenses. If you don’t have a lot saved for a rainy day, an NEA Personal Loan can help in a pinch—you can often receive funds within 24 hours. A competitive rate makes paying it off more manageable. Plus, there are no application fees or pre-payment penalties.
6. Get serious about retirement savings
See where your retirement planning stands and learn how to make it better with information from the NEA Retirement Program. As an NEA member you can use the NEA Retirement Income Calculator, which factors in state pension information, to see how your retirement plans are shaping up. Plus, learn stock market basics, why retirement is different for educators, and much more with these retirement resources.
Learn more about financial topics for educators and find helpful tips about budgeting, credit, managing debt, and other financial topics at neamb.com/personal-finance. And get the tools you need to craft a strong retirement plan at neamb.com/retirement-planning.