Money Crashers is one of the most comprehensive personal finance blogs out there. Whether you’re looking for tips on getting the best deal on car insurance or trying to figure out how to eliminate student loan debt, chances are Money Crashers has a post detailing the best plan of action. We spoke with contributor Erik Folgate about his 2010 as part of our year-end round up and picked his brain on what to expect in 2011.
What financial tool or tip did you learn in 2010 that you really loved?
One tool that I started using a lot in 2010 was FreshBooks. I do a lot of freelance work, and it is great for invoicing, client management, writing estimates, and keeping track of who owes me money. I pay $19 each month, and it really helps me keep my side income jobs organized. It’s a great tool, and I recommend it for freelancers and small businesses.
What’s your financial resolution for 2011?
I have two financial resolutions for my family.
Our first goal is to reduce our debt by 25%. Our only debt is student loans, but we have quite a bit of it. I would make this goal higher, but we just had a baby boy and making the financial adjustment will take a few months.
Our second goal is to increase my income by 15% by the end of the year. My wife may go to part-time after her maternity leave, so we want to make sure that I can supplement her lost income in some way.
How did your blog grow in the past year?
The Money Crashers personal finance blog has grown a lot over the past year, the biggest change being the addition of some new great writers. Everyone has different opinions, experiences, and expertise when it comes to finance so we wanted the site to incorporate different voices to keep things interesting and fun.
Give us three words that describe what you think is the ideal bank.
Service, Transparency, and Reliability.
Consumers are trusting banks with their money. There’s nothing more important to someone from a material point of view, so banks must give great customer service. If they don’t, there’s no reason for people to entrust their hard-earned money to them. With all of the old bank practices of hidden bank overdraft fees, it’s very important to be transparent in the 21st century. Banking customers don’t want to feel like they’re being lied to or like their bank is being sneaky. Banks that nickel and dime their customers are not in good favor these days. With the huge financial meltdown of 2008, reliability is very important to banking customers. People want the security of knowing their bank will be around for the long haul and that their money is safe and secure.
What financial trends do you hope to see in the coming year?
I hope to see banks continue to follow the trend of reducing hidden banking fees and costs, and offering more products and services that generate revenue, rather than fees. I also hope to see technology continue to be a big part of the financial industry so that consumers can have more access to financial information and their options when it comes to financial products and services. Finally, I hope to see banking institutions legitimately offer more training and educational services to customers, because more educated consumers are better for the economy and the banking industry as a whole.
Thanks for taking part, Erik! Great insights, as always.
Are any of you working at paying off student loan debt? What types of training and educational services would you like to see from your bank?