Improve your financial wellness with these 7 money-management tips

While a big inheritance or a promotion to a higher-paying position in the workplace are both sure ways to improve your financial well-being, in most cases, neither is necessary to put your day-to-day finances in better order. In fact, if you’re like most consumers, developing better money-management skills and showing more financial discipline can bring big improvements to your financial health — and set you on a course to a brighter financial future.

If you’re looking to increase your financial wellness, consider developing these seven money-related habits that are common to those with good finances:


  1. Keep close track of your spending: To improve your spending habits, it’s critical to have a good grasp of where your money goes each month. And by keeping a close eye on your monthly spending, you can identify any non-essential areas where you may be regularly overspending, then make plans for cutting back on those purchases to generate savings. Typical targets for such cutbacks include dining out, entertainment, rarely used subscription services and easily eliminated luxuries like frequent visits to the coffee shop. And in the digital age, saving receipts to track your spending habits is no longer required — as a range of finance-related apps and software designed to help consumers track and evaluate expenses is now available. Popular examples here include Mint, Goodbudget and MoneyTrack.


  1. Build a monthly budget: Another essential part of good money management is building a household budget. This tool can be helpful in identifying the amount of flexible income you have to work with each month — which represents a recurring opportunity to pay down debts and/or build savings. To determine this figure, subtract your essential monthly expenses (such as your rent or mortgage payments, utility bills, debt payments, grocery costs, gas expenses, etc.) from your monthly household income. With the resulting figure — your discretionary income — in mind, you can then set realistic goals for what percentages of this money you’d like to devote each month to paying off debts and building up savings, then put your plan into action. (For step-by-step guidance on creating a household budget, check out this Arthur State Bank blog article.)


  1. Prioritize on-time bill payments: Your payment history makes up 35% of your FICO® credit score — making it the single biggest factor in this calculation used by many lenders to determine your creditworthiness. And when you miss a bill payment, the financial blemish can linger on your credit report for up to seven years. To avoid such damage to your credit score (and your financial wellness), make timely debt payments a high priority each month. Not only will consistently on-time payments help you raise your credit score, they’ll help you avoid any late fees, too. (For more details on how to improve your credit score, check out this Arthur State Bank blog article.)


  1. Check your credit reports: Your credit reports, which document tails about your financial history, are used to calculate your credit score. (And when you have a high credit score, it can deliver a wealth of finance-related benefits such as easier approval and reduced interest rates when applying for loans, lower insurance rates, waived security deposits, and more.)
    While credit reports are typically reliable, they can sometimes contain score-impacting errors. So, by law, Americans who request them are entitled to get free copies of their credit reports annually from each of the nation’s three leading credit-reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. To make a free online request for your credit report(s), visit And once you receive them, carefully review all the information contained in your credit report(s) for errors, then report any you discover to the applicable credit-reporting agency.


  1. Do away with debt: Ultimately, you’ll want to have a plan in place to eliminate all of your debts. But when starting out and facing multiple debts, it’s wise to prioritize paying off your highest-interest debts first. Begin by focusing on any credit card debts, loans and other outstanding debts that are carrying the highest interest rates, then put as much money as possible each month toward paying these down. By eliminating your interest-bearing debts, you’ll not only boost your financial wellness, but you can also save substantial amounts of money (especially over the long haul) by avoiding interest payments.


  1. Have an investment strategy: All of us have long term-financial goals we’d like to meet, such as saving for retirement, setting money aside for a child’s college education, and/or saving up to buy a or a second home. And typically, accomplishing these takes a substantial amount of time and financial discipline. To start taking steps toward meeting your long-term financial goals (and ensuring your future financial wellness), work toward building such savings as soon as possible. Especially with long-term investment vehicles such as 401(k) accounts, Roth IRAs and 529 college savings plans, even small contributions can build up to substantial savings over time — particularly when the power of compound interest is leveraged. (Want to see just how powerful compound interest can be? Consult this compound interest calculator at


  1. Create purposeful accounts: For many of us, building up a substantial stockpile of savings can be much easier if we move any funds we’d like to devote to savings to an account that’s separate from the funds allotted to our day-to-day spending (often a checking account). So, by setting up a savings account, money market account or certificate of deposit and moving any savings-specific funds there as often as you can afford to, you can cut down on the temptation to spend the extra cash — and better build your savings.

Proudly serving South Carolina since 1933, Arthur State Bank offers accounts and services to meet a variety of financial needs. To help you achieve all your financial goals, the bank offers in-person service as well as a range of convenient digital solutions. To learn how Arthur State Bank can help you with banking needs ranging from checking and savings to retirement accounts, mortgages, other personal loans and more, visit

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Man doing his banking online is the only source for free credit reports authorized by the federal government. Every 12 months, you can get a free copy of your credit report from each agency.

Your credit report has your credit history for all of your credit accounts as well as any credit inquiries and public record court information such as collections. In addition, the report provides personally identifiable information such as your name, address, and employment.

Be sure to carefully review all three reports to identify any problem areas that you may need to clean up prior to applying for a mortgage. If there is any incorrect information, follow the reporting agency’s rules to correct it or add a notation to the report to explain the situation.

Your FICO Score is a score combines data from several areas include payment history, the amount owed, length of credit history, new accounts. Many lenders use this score as a guide. This score is not provided as part of the free annual credit report.

Learn more about how your credit score impacts your ability to secure a loan.


Couple looking over finances

Primary considerations for setting your housing budget require an assessment of your income, debt and current savings for the down payment on the home. The following are generally recommended guidelines; however, you should meet with an Arthur State Bank lender to get personalized mortgage information.


Couple meeting with lender

The pre-qualification/pre-approval letter is included with any offer you make on a house to inform the seller that you have met with a mortgage lender and you are prepared to make an offer. The letter states that based on certain assumptions, the bank is prepared to lend you up to a specified amount of money for a home mortgage.

When choosing a loan officer, we recommend going local to work with someone who understands your community’s real estate market. This blog on first-time home purchases includes questions to ask your lender that may be helpful when preparing for your meeting.

Helpful Resources:


Realtor shaking hands with a client

When a house is sold, the seller typically pays real estate commission to both the listing agent and the selling agent. It is extremely beneficial for the buyer to use their own real estate agent. Loan officers can often recommend selling agents in the area; ask your officer about realtor referrals when discussing your loan.

A good realtor will know the local market and can help you find an ideal home based on your budget, location and desired features. During your search, understand that you will most likely need to compromise on some items, so it’s important to identify your critical needs versus your wants.


Couple searching online for a home

Additionally, when you start with the house search and work backwards, homes can often go off the market while you’re completing steps 1-4. While browsing homes immediately can be tempting, we recommend following these steps in order so that, once you find your dream home, you’ll be well-positioned to take action immediately.

When you find the home you want and you think you are ready to put an offer on it, you will want to make sure you have all the information you need to make a solid offer.

  • Evaluate the neighborhood.
  • Drive by the house at different times of the day.
  • Examine how other houses in the neighborhood are maintained.
  • Consider any potential traffic or other disruptive noise.
  • Is there ample parking for you and visitors?
  • Read the details in any Homeowner Association agreements (HOA fees and rules).

Make sure to do a preliminary check of house details:

  • Check the water:
  • Does it have good pressure?
  • How long does it take to get the water hot?
  • Is it well water or city water?
  • Turn light switches on and off.
  • Open and close doors and windows to make sure they work properly.
  • Review previous utility bill expenses.
  • Consider the property tax bill.


Family meeting with realtor at new house

When writing an offer contract, be sure to pay attention to all of the details.

Offer Price:

Your agent should do a market analysis that pulls data on recently sold comparable houses. The best comparisons will come from the same neighborhood.

If you are asking for the seller to pay some of the closing costs, remember that this cost plus the sales commission determines the net amount you are offering the seller for the house.

Work with your agent on your negotiation strategy. There are many things to consider, such as how badly you want this particular house, whether it is a buyer’s or seller’s market and an assessment of the seller’s motivation to get the property sold.

There isn’t one best strategy.

Be sure to document in writing everything you want included with the house, such as appliances, etc. Your agent should guide you through the contract step-by-step.


  • Home inspection.
  • Mortgage.
  • Final walk through (24 hours prior to closing).

Proposed closing date. Typically, this is 30-45 days from an accepted offer.

A good-faith deposit is required for the offer. This is typically between 1-10% of the purchase price of the house. The deposit is kept in escrow until closing and the money is applied to the purchase price of the house at closing. If the house does not close due to one of the contingency clauses, the buyer receives their money back. However, if the buyer decides not to close on the property, the seller may get the deposit money.

Attach your pre-approval letter to the offer.


Two people in professional meeting

The clock starts ticking for everything documented in the contract, including mortgage application, inspections and closing date.


Woman advising other woman on mortgage application

You will need to decide which mortgage to select prior to the application.

Plan for the following potential fees:

  • Application fee (many banks and mortgage companies charge an application fee; however, there is not an application fee at Arthur State Bank).
  • Credit check.
  • Appraisal (may be paid at closing).
  • Loan origination fee (paid at closing).

Once you have approval for your loan, make sure you don’t change anything that will impact the status of your mortgage. Banks do a final check on credit and jobs just prior to closing, so now is not the time to change jobs or make another purchase on credit such as a car or furniture.


Home inspector going over findings with home owner

Depending on the size of the house, an inspection can cost on average between $300 to $1000.

Many real estate contracts specify how problems uncovered in the inspection will be resolved, up to a certain dollar amount. Should necessary repairs exceed that amount, the buyer has the option to cancel the contract without penalty and receive their deposit money back. Another option is for the buyer and seller to renegotiate who will pay for additional repairs.


Woman happily holding keys to her new home
  • Homeowner’s insurance is required by the lender prior to closing on the loan.
  • Turn on utilities in your name, effective the closing date.
  • Change your address with the U.S. Postal Service.
  • Make moving arrangements.

Three days prior to closing:

  • You should receive your final Closing Disclosure from the closing agency. The final Closing Disclosure shows a column for the seller and a column for the buyer. All closing charges and credits for both the seller and the buyer are documented in the closing statement.
  • Review the closing statement for accuracy prior to coming to closing.
  • The final amount in the buyer’s column shows you the amount of money you need to pay at closing.

The closing office will provide specific payment instructions. Closing funds have become recent targets for cybercriminals. If you are asked to use a wire transfer, call the office and ask to speak to someone you have been working with to double-check the instructions.

Closing day:

In South Carolina, the closing will usually take place at the attorney’s office. Everyone signing for the mortgage must be present to sign the closing paperwork. Make sure you bring the following:

  • Cashier’s check or proof of payment for wire transfer.
  • Driver’s license.
  • Checkbook, just in case there are any additional items that were not on the closing statement.

Be sure to understand this information:

  • How and when you will pay:
  • Your mortgage.
  • Your property taxes.
  • Your homeowner’s insurance.
  • Any HOA dues.
  • Who to call with any questions.

The best practice is to go through the homebuyer’s roadmap in this sequence. However, if you jumped ahead early in your journey, just circle back to address the steps you missed.

Arthur State Bank’s loan officers are closely tapped into local real estate markets and experts at helping clients get what they need on terms that work for them. We also offer mortgage specials for first-time homebuyers.

To start planning your journey to your dream home, try out our mortgage calculator. If you’re ready to talk to a loan officer, contact Arthur State Bank to request personalized mortgage information today. Don’t forget to ask about our first-time homebuyer offer.