Tips for Keeping Your Financial Resolutions

Joseph Huml, Vice President/Retail Regional Manager huml_portrait

Whether you are among the 41 percent of Americans who typically head into the new year equipped with a list of resolutions or are among those who just want to get your finances in shape, knowing how to move the dial from intent to progress can be tough.[1]

Here are some tips to help you succeed in boosting your financial health in 2017.

  1. Conduct a credit cleanup. Sometimes it helps to clear the slate by consolidating high-interest debt into lower rate loans. Homeowners, in particular, often find financial relief—along with financing for home repairs or unexpected expenses—by using a home equity line of credit (HELOC). Not only is the interest rate on this type of debt more affordable than other types of personal loans, the interest you pay may also be tax deductible.
  1. Join the club. To avoid feeling overextended by holiday spending next January, open a Club Savings Account this January. Arrange to have a small amount ($10–$25) transferred from your checking account with each paycheck. In late November, the accumulated amount will be transferred back into your checking account just in time for you to start shopping for the 2017 holiday season.
  1. Get more than credit. Compare the rates and rewards you receive on your current credit card to see if there are more attractive deals out there. Also, with many issuers offering attractive introductory rates for new accounts, moving your outstanding balances could potentially save you money.
  1. Up your reserve. While having an emergency reserve equal to at least three months of your regular expenses is advisable, it can be hard to achieve. A more attainable goal is to try to build up your emergency reserve gradually. For instance, consider setting up an automatic deposit for a modest amount from each paycheck that will allow you to end up with an additional month’s worth of emergency reserve by year-end.
  1. Experiment with bursts of retirement savings. While it’s hard to hit the maximum contribution limit to your retirement savings account each month, try raising your contribution during the three months a year when your expenses are lighter. These short bursts can add up over time.
  1. Get a second opinion. Take advantage of free investment consultations when they are available. Sometimes, a banker can see a better way to save on fees or interest expenses and may be able to provide insights into ways of allocating your investments for expected market changes.
  1. Improve your score. Review your credit reports and scores at least annually. Since your score influences the interest rates you pay—and even employers and landlords look at them—it’s beneficial to make sure yours is as high as possible. When you review your credit reports, look for any errors or omissions. Pay attention to the timeliness of the payments you do make. Late payments and skipped payments are the biggest detractors to your score.

For more information on how we can help you keep up your resolve to improve your finances this year, visit us here or call 1-877-866-0202. We can’t wait to talk to you about what we can do to help you make this your best financial year yet.

5 Life Events That Benefit From Financial Planning

Kathy Diedrick, First Vice President—Retail diedrick

As you write your life story, there are likely to be chapters that completely change the direction of your narrative. Coincidently, these plot twists often come with financial implications. Getting advice at these points isn’t just helpful, it may be rewarding.

A 2010 study found that people who get advice regularly before making major decisions related to money end up with more financial assets than those who go it alone. So, when would seeking financial advice help?

Here are some of the bigger turning points in life, when some guidance can make all the difference.

Your first full-time job. For many, the thrill of a regular paycheck comes from knowing you don’t have to ask permission—it’s your money to spend as you please. But, before you do, it’s a good idea to take a breath, step back and add up what you need to spend each month. Then, think about what you want to spend on the things you do or buy for enjoyment.

It’s also a good idea to get in the habit of shaving off a little bit from each paycheck to start saving for the things you are going to want, like an annual vacation, getting an advanced degree, upgrading your car, owning your own home and, ultimately, retiring.

Talking to an advisor about the best options for living today while saving for tomorrow can help you get off to a good start. Making use of spending tools also helps.

You found the ONE! Making a commitment to share your life is huge, whether you find that person early in your adulthood or later on. It also means that when you start to live life as part of a couple, you should start spending, saving and planning as one. An advisor can help facilitate that transition by advising you on how to jointly own and hold title to your accounts and assets. They can also work with you to set up new savings goals. Calculators like this one can also help you keep track of things as your finances become more diverse.

Buying your first home. While you save for a down payment, you may want to work with an advisor—as well as a mortgage expert—to determine how much house you can afford and if there is a need to address your current debt and credit scores before applying for a mortgage.

Children change everything. From what you spend your money on to what you care about, when you start adding family members, it’s time to reevaluate. For many new parents, saving for college becomes an important goal. While our college savings calculator can help you set a target, an advisor can help you choose the right goal and savings method for your budget, along with a mix of appropriate investments.

Preretirement. The time to consider your plan for retirement is when you’re still working. This way you can make necessary adjustments before locking into any decisions. This tends to be the point in most people’s lives where they really want to meet more regularly with an advisor to make sure their savings are sufficient and their investment allocation makes sense.

No matter where you are in your life, we have the accounts, tools and individuals to support you on your financial journey. Contact us at 1-877-866-0202 to see how we can help. And, feel free to make use of our many financial tools along the way. We’re always happy to talk to you about what you want to do next.