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Building money management skills

A Question-and-Answer session with Phil Mustone, Financial Education Manager at Cambridge Savings Bank

Cambridge Savings Bank
Member FDIC - Equal Housing Lender
Building money management skills
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My name is Phil Mustone and I’m the Financial Education Program Manager at Cambridge Savings Bank (CSB).

Philip Mustone

I’ve been in banking for about 20 years and what I love most about my job is helping people achieve their financial goals. For me, that started in my first role as a teller and has continued to my current role.

I feel lucky to be a part of CSB where we put such a focus on and a commitment behind improving the financial well-being of those in the communities we serve. For the past 11 years, we have actually had a team dedicated to providing financial education in our communities. I’m proud to say that we have delivered financial education to over 32,000 participants — so far!

What does it mean to pay for something with credit?
Credit is a super important financial tool. When you buy something “on credit” you receive an item immediately but pay for it at a later date. Using credit can open up possibilities and allow you to make a large purchase such as a home and pay for it gradually over time. It is important to keep in mind that you usually will need to pay back the original amount borrowed along with interest. When deciding whether to offer you credit, a lender may look at your credit score. Your credit score is based on factors such as your current debt and repayment history. Building your credit is important to show lenders you are reliable and can pay back an amount borrowed. Check out this article to learn more about credit and ways to build or boost your credit score.

What are some strategies to help me stay on top of my debt payments?
This is a great and very common question! Avoid falling behind on payments by setting automatic minimum payments through your bank and by creating reminders to help remember due dates. You can even check with your loan provider to see if they offer email or text message reminders. It is also important to create a budget so you can prioritize your expenses and track your debt payments each month. You can get started with this budget calculator tool. If you do find yourself falling behind on payments, there are strategies to get back on track. Check out this article for tips and strategies that may help you better manage your debt.

What are some easy ways to build my credit?
When it comes to building or boosting your credit there are a few things to keep in mind. Make payments on time and in full whenever you can, as late or missing payments can lower your credit score. It is also important to be mindful of how much you borrow. Review your credit report and make sure you understand what factors may be impacting your credit score. You can check your credit report for free once a year by visiting annualcreditreport.com or if you are a CSB customer, you can access your credit score and report instantly in Online Banking. You’ll also see personalized tips on how to boost your score or maintain a good one. Learn more about our credit score tool and how to review your credit report or explore this coaching tool for personalized tips and strategies that may work for you.

Is all debt bad?
This is a very important question! If managed properly, not all debt is bad. Some types are better than others because they may increase your net worth or help you achieve your financial goals. This “good debt” is often low cost and can help you build your wealth over time. Common examples of “good debt” are mortgages or student loans.  “Bad debt” on the other hand tends to be higher cost and lose value as time passes. It is good to keep in mind that any debt can become a “bad debt” if you can no longer afford it! Explore this article for debt management tips and strategies.

What are some things to look out for in a “high rate” environment?
Great question! In a rising rate environment, the cost of borrowing money goes up. Payments on fixed-rate loans will remain the same but variable rate credit payments are likely to increase. Monitor rising interest rates and adjust your monthly budget as needed to make sure you are staying on top of your debt payments. If you have savings, you can also expect to see a higher return as interest rises. Explore this personalized coaching tool for more information or connect with us at CSB to learn more about how rising rates may impact your financial plan.

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