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Bottom Line Up Front

  • If your budget is tight, try reviewing your accounts daily, so you know exactly how much is coming in and going out. You’ll know when to cut back on spending. 
  • Make savings a priority by following the “pay yourself first” adage. Set up automatic transfers right into savings or take it a step further and allocate a portion of your direct deposit to go into savings.
  • Control your spending with a 30-day rule. If there's something you really want, but it's not an absolute necessity, wait 30 days to see if you still want it.
  • When saving for college, recognize that 529 savings plans aren’t just for parents to set up. Grandparents and other loved ones can set them up, too.

Time to Read

8 minutes

May 16, 2022

When seeking advice, reaching out to friends or reading reviews is a great way to gather info. But when it comes to your finances, you want trustworthy, factual advice from people who know what they’re talking about. Our Member Service Representatives work with members daily to discuss money, spending habits, products, tools and more. We compiled some of their favorite tips. 

Who Are Navy Federal’s Member Reps? 

Our team of Member Service Reps works stateside all day, every day, answering member calls. Last year alone, they answered 34 million calls. Here are some of the top tips, hints and recommendations these front-line folks share with our members. These are real tips for real life from real people.

Saving Up

Daily Savings | Kyle Slonecker

“If you currently live paycheck-to-paycheck and struggle to save money, a wise idea is to save first after you have budgeted what bills will be paid. Try to take a look at your accounts every day and see how much you have spent that day. If you feel you’ve spent less that day or think you can afford to, make a small transfer to your savings account, even if it’s only $5. If you start doing that 2-5 days a week, it’ll add up.”

Budget! | Crystal Lynn Landis 

“I opened up a secondary checking account to use for my bills. Each paycheck, I set aside a specific amount of money to cover my bills for that month. This ensures I don’t overspend, and I know the money left in my primary account can be used for other purchases. I also have 10% of my pay go directly into my savings.”

Open a New Special Rate Certificate | Janet Noland  

“When Navy Federal offers a great certificate rate, I advise members to go ahead and open it with the minimum deposit. When you see a high certificate rate, pounce on it with at least the minimum so it’s sitting in the wings for future contributions when other certificates mature.”

Be Accountable to Your Budget | Spenser Diaz Rivera 

"If you're someone who’s constantly waiting on a direct deposit to post to your account because you’re living check to check, here are three simple steps you can take to get a handle on your finances:

  1. Know your expenses and your income. 
  2. Create a budget
  3. Hold yourself accountable."

Pay Yourself First | Jamila Anne McCarty

“I try to advise members to pay yourself first when it comes to saving before you pay any bills. Start with a money market and set aside as much as you can afford or open a certificate if you don't need the funds right away. That way, if any unexpected life events occur, you won't have to go into debt to pay for them.”

Managing Money 

Look for Discounts | Cassandra Tabarini 

“Whether it’s paying bills or buying items, always look for discounts! Go the extra mile, use the money you saved from discounts, and place it into your savings!”

Use Prepaid Cards for Websites With a "Free" Service | Gabriele S. Wagner 

“Websites often ask to have a card number on record even though their service is free. I use a prepaid card with only $15 loaded on it for cases like that. This way, if I get charged and the fee is more than $15, the charge won't go through and I get a notification.”

Bill Tracker | Amanda Miller 

“I created a spreadsheet of all my bills and the order they are due, with their amounts next to them (if they’re the same monthly). Each paycheck, I look at my spreadsheet and go through the list to see what’s due and check off everything I’ve paid that day.”

30-Day Rule | Nicole R. Caballero

“You can control your spending with a 30-day rule. If there's something you really want, but it's not an absolute necessity, this is a great rule. Don't buy it! Write down the name of the item, the store, the price and day. Put it somewhere like on your fridge or on your calendar. Think about it over the next 30 days, BUT don't buy it! At the end of the month, if the urge is there, then purchase it. The 30-day period alleviates the desire for unnecessary items that could be saving you money!”

Prepared to Pay | Samuel John Stewart

“Establish a ‘Bills’ checking account and calculate the average monthly amount due for each bill. Then, set up auto transfers from your main account to your ‘Bills’ account equal to your total bills.”

Use Your Free Annual Credit Reports | Ashley Smith

“Everyone has free access yearly to their credit report from the 3 credit reporting agencies.  I always recommend looking at one every 4 months, instead of all of them at once. This way, you can check on your credit information throughout the year and make sure everything is correct!”

Getting Ahead 

529 Plans for Education | Wendy Church

“I like to make sure members understand 529 plans. I remind members that they’re not only open for moms and dads to create for their children but also for anyone to open for a beneficiary or contribute to their grandchild's existing 529.”

Education About Credit Cards Is Key | Holly Forbes 

“Any time I have a member who’s not familiar with credit cards, I make sure I explain how they work. I help educate them on keeping their balance at 30 percent of their spending limit or lower, especially if they’re trying to build credit. Also, if a member makes a promotional balance transfer on a credit card, it’s a great idea to inform them that if they use the credit card for purchases, they will be charged interest until the card is paid in full—a lot of people don’t realize that until it’s too late.”

Teaching Your Kids About Spending | Holly Forbes 

“Parents who are trying to establish credit for their children, or anyone for that matter, don’t realize that by adding them as an authorized user, account performance could be reported in all the account holders' and authorized users' names to the credit bureaus. The fact that they can set spending limits on the authorized user’s card or not even give them a card at all helps with this decision.”

A Little Credit Card Knowledge Goes a Long Way | Wendy Church 

“I like to share that Mom and Dad can use the spend limit to teach their not-quite-legal-age children how a credit card works. Simply add the child as an authorized user, set the limit to a predetermined amount, and share with your child that through their mobile app,* they can see their own charges and are responsible for making the payment to cover those charges. Hopefully it opens a conversation about financial literacy.”

Save Money on International Trips | Brian Danovius Bracaloni

“When using your Navy Federal Credit Card for foreign transactions, you'll avoid any foreign transaction fees. Paying a 15% fee sounds small, but it’ll add up quickly. Don't let your travel funds go to waste!”1

Automatic Payments for Monthly Bills Can Save Money | Melanie Dagmar Jackson

“I always recommend setting up your monthly bills on AutoPay through the biller. It ensures that your bills are paid on time and you avoid late fees and potential credit marks. On top of that, a lot of billers may offer special monthly discounts on your bill if you set up an auto draft with them! And, if you use your Navy Federal rewards credit card for your utilities, insurance, etc., you also earn reward points or cash back for paying your bills!”

Protect Your Preapproval Loan | Charlotte Ann Fisher 

“My advice to members and anyone with a preapproved auto loan—hide your preapproved loan check until after your car deal is set. If you walk in with a check saying that you are approved for up to $30,000, you might suddenly find that $30,000 is the lowest the dealership can go. Whereas, if you walk in and simply state you’ve already been preapproved for financing, the dealership may bargain with you because they don't know what you are approved for. This is a great way to still be able to save money even after you're approved for a maximum amount.”

We hope these real tips from real people make a real difference in helping you reach your financial goals. 

Next Steps Next Steps

  1. Did you know we have a handy Monthly Spending Calculator you can use to keep track of your spending and savings?
  2. If you’re ready to take the next step with your savings goals, Navy Federal Personal Finance Counselors can help you get started with budgeting and debt management. 



As of 06/19/2024, nRewards® Secured card rate is 18.00% APR and will vary with the market based on the U.S. Prime Rate. All other Navy Federal Credit Card rates range from 11.24% APR to 18.00% APR, are based on product type and creditworthiness, and will vary with the market based on the U.S. Prime Rate. ATM cash advance fees: None if performed at a Navy Federal branch or ATM. Otherwise, $0.50 per domestic transaction or $1.00 per foreign transaction. $49 annual fee for Visa Signature® Flagship Rewards.

This content is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.