Don’t Eat the Marshmallow! 4 Tips for Financial Self-Control

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The “Marshmallow Theory,” based on a landmark Stanford University experiment, has been used countless times to demonstrate the power of self-control in your financial and personal life.

The experiment followed children who were left alone with a marshmallow and told that if they didn’t eat it they would get a second one 15 minutes later. Some of the kids waited the full 15 minutes, some ate the marshmallow immediately, and others waited for a short period of time before eating it.

Years later, researchers tracked down the children and found that those with the willpower to wait to eat the marshmallow — 1 in 3 of the test subjects — grew up to become more successful adults than those who ate the marshmallow immediately.

Temptation Never Goes Away

Joachim de Posada, an author, motivational speaker, and adjunct professor at the University of Miami, has gotten a lot of mileage out of the marshmallow experiment. He’s written three books based on the theory.

His latest — “Keep Your Eye on the Marshmallow” — teaches readers how to take responsibility for their own financial, career and personal success by keeping their attention focused on long-term goals rather than instant rewards.

“One of the lessons we can learn from the marshmallow experiment is that among the 1 out of 3 kids that didn’t eat the marshmallow, some already had willpower and some understood they needed to use different techniques to avoid eating it,” says de Posada. “Leadership, like willpower, can be inherited, but it can also be learned through emotional intelligence.”

While the children in the Stanford experiment resisted eating the marshmallow by turning their backs on it or distracting themselves by drawing on the walls, de Posada suggests that adults can use similar techniques (defacing property notwithstanding) to avoid the allure of instant gratification.

4 Ways to Artificially Boost Your Willpower

If you lack financial willpower (e.g., the wherewithal to save your paycheck instead of spending it right away), de Posada recommends the following workarounds to help you delay gratification:

1. Choose an accomplice. Let’s say you have a goal of saving 10 percent of your paycheck until you have enough to cover six months of living expenses to stash into an emergency fund. If you can’t do this on your own, de Posada suggests you identify someone whose willpower is stronger than yours either to keep your money for you or be the person to whom you are accountable.

“If you trust them, send them the money and tell them they can’t give it back until you’ve reached a certain goal,” says de Posada. “Or have your mother or your brother or a close friend call you every 15 days and ask you how much you saved or what you spent your money on during the previous two weeks.”

2. Have your boss hide away part of your paycheck. If you work for a larger company, de Posada says you should have at least 10 percent of your income transferred into a 401(k) or other financial instrument before you ever see it. Just like the kids who looked away from the marshmallow, your money will be out of sight and out of reach.

The Investment & Retirement Center located at First Financial can assist members with saving, investing, and planning for retirement. Set up an appointment with Financial Advisor, Louis Paolillo by calling 732.312.1565, email Louis.Paolillo@cunamutual.com, or stop into any branch and ask a representative to schedule an appointment for you.*

3. Use a money planner. “You schedule your time with your iPad or your calendar, so schedule your money in the same way,” says de Posada. “Give yourself orders that you need to follow in your planner, such as saving a specific amount each week.”

Committing these money appointments to your calendar makes them more concrete, as opposed to vague, far-off goals.

De Posada suggests establishing your financial priorities as you would other activities, with the “A” level urgent actions that must be done today, such as paying a bill on the due date; “B” level tasks that are important but can be accomplished by a future deadline, such as reducing your debt by a particular amount; and “C” level long-term goals such as funding your retirement. He recommends checking your money planner weekly rather than daily.

4. Take action now for future rewards. Overcoming a bit of discomfort in the short term often accompanies actions that pay off in the long term. Investing in the stock market requires weathering the inevitable short-term gyrations and reminding yourself that over the long term the market has steadily risen.

“You need to understand who you are and your appetite for risk, but be aware that when you’re younger you can be more aggressive in your investments,” says de Posada.

De Posada says the most important part of the marshmallow theory is to understand how you would react to the experiment.

“If you know intrinsically that you’re a marshmallow eater, then find a technique to overcome that character trait,” he says. “Recruit someone to help you or put systems in place that will force you to wait for that second marshmallow.”

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*Non-deposit investment and insurance products are not federally insured, involve investment risk, may lose value, and are not obligations of or guaranteed by the Credit Union.Representatives are registered, securities are sold, and investment advisory services offered through CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI), member FINRA/SIPC , a registered broker/dealer and investment advisor, 2000 Heritage Way, Waverly, Iowa 50677, toll-free 800-369-2862. CBSI is under contract with the financial institution, through the financial services program, to make securities available to members.

Financial Advice from Mothers and Grandmothers

mothers-day-subway-art-8x10We’d like to thank everyone who participated in our Mother’s Day Facebook Contest and posting the best financial advice their mother or grandmother ever gave them. Congratulations to our Facebook Contest winner, Susan Rubin, who earned a $50 Hand and Stone Massage Spa gift card for Mother’s Day. Here is what she shared:

“My mom taught me to embrace and live life to the fullest. Don’t skimp on your needs but you can live without all the ‘WANTS’.”

We received a number great financial tips and and we thought it would be nice to share them with everyone…

  • “My Mom is wonderful woman! She has always encouraged me to save my money and pay my bills on time. My Mom deserves praise and recognition for her efforts to raise good children with morals and scruples. I love my Mom with all of my heart and I am proud to be her daughter! Happy Mother’s Day Mom!” – Jeanie P.
  • “My mother told me to ‘always pay yourself first’. No matter how small a paycheck or how big the bills/debt, you need to put something away for that rainy day/emergency/retirement fund. You never know when you might need it!” – Michelle J.
  • “My Mother many years ago believed that a woman should always have her own account when married besides the household accounts.” – Claire D.
  • “My husband’s grandparents who were close to 100 when they passed away had a very simple way of life, Grandma always said to Grandpa even at 96 years old ‘You do not work you do not eat’.” – Yovone R.
  • “My mom taught me at a young age that all your change adds up quickly.”- Kimberly P.
  • “Mom taught me to live within my means — if you can’t afford it, don’t buy it.” – Susan H.
  • “My mom told me that the best and easiest way to save was to get the money removed directly from your paycheck. After two paydays you won’t even miss it! She was right!” – Michelle W.
  • “My mom taught me to explore new and different retirement options and savings plans to prepare for my future.” - Mike R. 
  • A dollar spent is a dollar gone; it doesn’t just recycle itself and it’s not some bottomless pit.” – Tina P.
  • “’When it comes down to it, the only person you can depend on… is yourself’ – helpful in regards to finances and life in general.” – Kori S.
  • “My single mom had been a member of the credit union all through my childhood. Although on a very tight budget, she used to have a separate Christmas account (Holiday Club) to save money all year long for the holidays so she could spoil my sister and I on her favorite holiday!” – Alison Z.
  • “Best advice is to strive to be independent, especially financially. Surround yourself with good people but at the end of the day, be able to rely on yourself!” – Margaret P.
  • “Make sure to think carefully about everything you spend. A dollar each day for coffee may not seem like much, but even the little things add up!” – Kelly B.
  • “Money doesn’t grow on trees!” – Kathleen G.
  • “Best financial advice my momma gave me was to spend wisely but also remember you only live once!” – Melissa D.
  • “Best advice from mom was to work hard, spend your money wisely, save and invest!” – Marina F.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and receive the most recent information about First Financial including monthly trivia, seminars, financial tips, event information, promotions, and so much more! Thank you again for participating and on behalf of everyone at First Financial we wish all Mothers and Grandmothers a wonderful and happy Mother’s Day!

When Was the Last Time You Had a Financial Checkup?

One of the best things you can do for your finances is to periodically check your financial health. As the first quarter of 2013 gets solidly underway, it’s a good idea to evaluate your finances, and recognize where you are in terms of financial health — and figure out where you want to go from here.

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Areas of Consideration for a Financial Checkup

As you prepare for your financial checkup, it’s a good idea to consider the following areas, and make adjustments as necessary:

  • Net Worth: It’s not a bad idea to start with your net worth. Your net worth offers a snapshot of where your finances are right at this moment. As a result, it can make a good starting point. Look at your current net worth, and compare it to your net worth from your last checkup. This can give you a general idea of what direction you are headed financially, and can give you a warning that you might need to make some changes.
  • Financial Plan: Next, review your financial plan, and your overall financial goals. Are you on track? Is your financial plan still helping you reach your goals? Or have things changed enough that you need to make tweaks to your financial plan? If you have moved off course from your financial plan, now is a good time to get back on track. Recognize what you need to do to bring your spending and saving back in line with your long-term financial goals.
  • Insurance Coverage: Review your insurance policies. Look at the coverages and the various plans that you have. It’s a good idea to consider what you need to protect your assets. Make sure you have adequate coverage. In some cases, it might make sense to drop some of your coverage, or take steps, like raising the deductible, to lower your premiums. First Financial members are now eligible to save money on home and auto insurance through Liberty Mutual. For information on Liberty Mutual’s Home and/or Auto Insurance* or if you would like a free, no-obligation quote, please contact Dan Ressegiue at Daniel.Ressegiue@LibertyMutual.com or at 732-308-3868 Ext. 50950.
  • Investments: Consider your investment accounts. Does your asset allocation still make sense? Has your allocation drifted away from what you want? Review the fees you are paying as well. If you have investments that are racking up the fees for you, consider switching things up. It might also make sense to consolidate your investment accounts in some cases. If you would like to set up a no-cost consultation with the Investment & Retirement Center** located at First Financial to discuss your brokerage, investments, and/or savings goals, contact Financial Advisor, Louis Paolillo at Louis.Paolillo@cunamutual.com or call 732.312.1565.
  • Spending and Saving Habits: Don’t forget to consider your spending and saving habits. Have you moved away from your savings goals? What about your spending? Have you stopped following your spending priorities? Re-establish your financial priorities, and make sure your spending is in line with what you prefer.

Now is also a good time to review your tax liability, and look for ways to reduce your taxes before the end of the year. Part of your financial checkup should also include a look at the deductions and credits you might be able to add in before the year ends, whether it’s buying business equipment or donating to charity.

An annual review of your financial situation is a good idea. You can catch problems — or even just see where you might have become lazy with your finances. A financial checkup can help you identify areas for improvement, and you can make a plan to boost your situation.

Here at First Financial, we encourage our members to come in at least once a year to sit down with a representative at any one of our branches to make sure you are currently placed in the correct Rewards First tier for you, and also that you are receiving the best value, products and services based on your financial situation. Give us a call or stop in to see us today!

Article Source: http://moneyning.com/money-management/when-was-the-last-time-you-had-a-financial-checkup/

*Liberty Mutual is an insurance service available to members and is not a product of this credit union.

**Representatives are registered, securities are sold, and investment advisory services offered through CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI), member FINRA/SIPC , a registered broker/dealer and investment advisor, 2000 Heritage Way, Waverly, Iowa 50677, toll-free 800-369-2862. Nondeposit investment and insurance products are not federally insured, involve investment risk, may lose value and are not obligations of or guaranteed by the financial institution. CBSI is under contract with the financial institution, through the financial services program, to make securities available to members. CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc., is a registered broker/dealer in all fifty states of the United States of America.

13 Money Tips for 2013

This year is going to be a long one if any of you suffer from triskaidekaphobia, fear of the number 13. To lessen the anxiety, consider these 13 money tips for 2013.

1. Track your expenses. Almost every financial plan starts with this most dreaded task. Unfortunately, without understanding where your money goes, it’s nearly impossible to make different choices about how to spend. The good news is that there are plenty of software programs to help you out, or you can use a plain old spreadsheet. You can also attend First Financial’s FREE budgeting seminar on 1/23 and take home a customizable budget worksheet to reuse over and over again!

2. Establish adequate emergency reserve funds. Perhaps the single best way to protect yourself from unforeseen circumstances is to hold 6 to 12 months of living expenses in cash or cash equivalent accounts. For those in retirement, consider carrying 12 to 24 months of expenses. Don’t forget to replenish cash reserves for any bills that are coming up over the next year.

3. Earn more on your safe money. Sure, interest  and dividend rates are low, but with a little work you can squeeze out some extra money. Shop around at a credit union like First Financial for a savings certificate*, and consider “I-bonds,” a kind of savings bond issued by the U.S. government, from treasurydirect.gov.

*First Financial FCU is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration. 

4. Get a handle on your risk tolerance. Before you make big changes to your investment accounts, take a risk assessment questionnaire, from our financial advisor. The results should help you re-balance your portfolio in a manner that is consistent with your needs and takes into account your emotions.

Also, we encourage all of our members to utilize our FREE debt management tool, Debt in Focus. With it’s upgraded features and benefits, in just minutes (quicker than ever before!) users will receive a thorough analysis of their financial situation by answering a few questions, including powerful tips by leading financial experts to help control debt, build a budget, and start living the way you would like to. So don’t forget about this great tool to help organize your finances!

5. Determine whether you should manage your money or hire someone to do it. Do you have the time, energy, acumen and temperament necessary to successfully manage all of the components of your financial life? If not, it could be time to interview a financial professional and you’re in luck! Here at First Financial we have our own financial advisor who is here to help you! If you would like to set up a no-cost consultation with the Investment & Retirement Center** to discuss your savings goals, contact Financial Advisor Louis Paolillo at Louis.Paolillo@cunamutual.com or call 732.312.1565.

**Non-deposit investment and insurance products are not federally insured, involve investement risk, may lose value, and are not obligations of or guaranteed by the Credit Union.

6. Stop trying to beat the market. “Most investors are not beating the market; the market is beating them,” says Charles D. Ellis, a consultant to large institutional investors. Ellis conducted research that found that only one in five mutual fund managers beats the index over the long run. With those odds, investors would be wise to replace actively individual stocks and managed mutual funds with index or exchange-traded funds.

7. Calculate your retirement number. Many people say they are worried about retirement, but most of them haven’t done any planning to help themselves. Any conversation about retirement must start with an easy step — calculating how much in savings people need to ensure a financially secure retirement. The Employee Benefit Research Institute’s “Choose to Save Ballpark E$timate” tool is easy to use, or check out your retirement plan/401(k) website for more retirement tools. We also encourage you to contact our financial advisor, Louis Paolillo for your retirement plans and investments.***

***Non-deposit investment and insurance products are not federally insured, involve investement risk, may lose value, and are not obligations of or guaranteed by the Credit Union.

8. Maximize retirement contributions. The federal government is helping on this front by increasing the 2013 limit for employees who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans and the government’s Thrift Savings Plan to $17,500 from $17,000. The catch-up contribution limit for employees aged 50 and over remains unchanged, at $5,500. The limit on annual contributions to traditional and Roth IRAs will rise by $500 to $5,500.

9. Consider buying a home. The real estate market is recovering, which means that those who have been sitting on the sidelines may want to take the plunge on a new home. Still, make sure you weigh whether you are better off renting or buying with this NY Times calculator and click here to use our home calculator on our webpage to help you find out how much home you can afford.

10. Refinance your mortgage. Mortgage rates are at historically low rates and appraisals are starting to rise, so even if you haven’t been able to refinance in the past couple of years, try again. Use this re-fi calculator to determine how much you may be able to save or how many years you could potentially shave off the term of your mortgage.

First Financial has just added a 10 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage**** to our mortgage options! If you thought you could never afford to pay your mortgage off in 10 years – think again! Shortening the term of your mortgage makes the single largest difference in the interest that you pay – even more than a lower rate. The new 10 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage from First Financial gives you the best of both worlds with a historically low rate and a short term that most lenders won’t offer. We’re even limiting the closing costs so that our members get the most savings possible. For more information on our new 10 year mortgage and other mortgage options, visit this blog post.

****First Financial FCU is an Equal Housing Lender.

11. Assess your property insurance, Superstorm Sandy was a painful lesson in the limits of homeowners insurance. The best time to review your policy is before an event occurs, not after. The three biggest mistakes people make with homeowners insurance are: 1) under-insuring; 2) shopping by price only and not comparing apples to apples; and 3) not reading policy details before a loss occurs.

12. Review life, disability and long-term care insurance coverage. This is the part of your financial life where an error can cause huge damage to your family. For life insurance, make sure you have enough with this online calculator. Nine times out of 10, term life insurance is the best bet. For disability insurance, enroll in your company’s plan, if offered. If you are self-employed, shop around and buy at least some coverage. If you’re over 50, time to shop around for long-term care insurance.

13. Create/review/update estate documents: Hire a lawyer to prepare a will, power of attorney and health care proxy/living will documents. If you prefer doing it yourself, you can use software like Quicken WillMaker. As part of the process, create a go-to list of documents, which can include key information about investment accounts, insurance policies, auto titles, income tax returns. Estate records and final instructions also should be stored in a safe place — don’t forget to provide copies to your executor or trustee.

Click here to view the article source.

*First Financial is not responsible for the content listed on external websites.

 

5 Splurges You Can & Should Allow Yourself

iStock_000017972218XSmallYou work really hard to save money and get out of debt. Every year, when making your New Year’s Resolutions, you vow that this will be the year you finally succeed and never look back.

You set your budget before December loses itself to January; you’ve planned how much you will put on each card, and you plan to say “no” to everything.

At first, you’re so proud of yourself for doing well, but by January 27th, you’re starting to regret and resent your plans.

Your coworkers are going out to dinner tonight and you really, really want to go. You wrestle with your conscience and your goals and off you go to eat with the gang.

You’re not thinking about the goals you established only a few weeks back; you’re thinking about how your debts aren’t going anywhere, no matter what you do. If you can’t change your future, then why not enjoy your present?

Your plans fly out the window before you’ve even given them a fair chance to work.

The unrelenting pressure of your iron-fisted budget is coming down on you hard, and you can’t stand the thought of never spending another dime on yourself. Your inner rebel is screaming to get out. So you surrender, and let the rebel win. This year can be different. No, really, it can be.

Let Go

Allowing yourself a few guilty pleasures that won’t break your budget or wreck your route to success will give you a budget that’s livable and easier to swallow. No one wants to live life feeling deprived.

1. A gym membership

Yes, there goes your excuse to not join the gym. Sorry! The fact is, the gym is a great place to be inspired to stay fit. With the low cost of many fitness centers, it’s easy to justify $19 a month to better your health. Though the biggest win is the excellent health habits you’ll develop, the relaxation that comes after a great workout is a massive bonus. This is one expenditure you should allow yourself — and feel good about!

2. A healthy diet

Buying whole fruits, veggies, and meats eliminates many middle men from the food preparation process. This means you’re getting nutrient-rich foods that will fill and fuel your body better than frozen, prepackaged, or processed foods. They may cost a little more, but YOU are well worth the investment.

3. A retirement fund

Allocate an amount that can be set aside each pay period for your retirement. Even if you already contribute to a 401K, you can increase the amount. The more you invest now, the closer you are to sitting on the front porch of life, rocking away and watching the sun set.

If you would like to set up a no-cost consultation with the Investment & Retirement Center** located at First Financial Federal Credit Union to discuss your savings and retirement goals, contact Financial Advisor Louis Paolillo at Louis.Paolillo@cunamutual.com or call 732.312.1565.

4. A weekend away

(Only do this if you can pay for it outright — no credit cards for this one!) Once in a while, you deserve a break. And though it may cost a bit more, a weekend away can really recharge your batteries, giving you a reason to continue on your journey of savings. Make sure to fully relax in your environment, so that when you return, you’re ready to work hard and roar towards your financial goals.

5. A special reward

Maybe you’ve had your eye on a gorgeous new suit, but you have a hard time justifying the purchase with your looming debt. You longingly stare every time you pass it by. Tuck away a little each week, so that you can get those dapper duds without breaking your budget. After all, you’ve been good and stuck to your goals, right?

By giving yourself permission to enjoy your money (within reason), you’ll be far more likely to stick with your budget and reach your goals.

What splurges do you allow yourself? Tell us! We’d love to hear it – comment below…

Click here to view the article source.

*First Financial is not responsible for any content listed on external websites. **Representatives are registered, securities are sold, and investment advisory services offered through CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI), member FINRA/SIPC , a registered broker/dealer and investment advisor, 2000 Heritage Way, Waverly, Iowa 50677, toll-free 800-369-2862. Nondeposit investment and insurance products are not federally insured, involve investment risk, may lose value and are not obligations of or guaranteed by the financial institution. CBSI is under contract with the financial institution, through the financial services program, to make securities available to members. CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc., is a registered broker/dealer in all fifty states of the United States of America. 

7 Steps to Creating Lasting Financial Resolutions

New-Years-Resolution-for-Finances-300x221We all have more than a few well-intentioned New Year’s Resolutions that never make it to February. We mean well, and we try hard to stick to our life-changing plans, but it seems inevitable that we’ll fail.

If you want to make lasting financial resolutions, you have to include a certain level of detail in your goals.

Try these 7 steps to help you create financial tips that will stick:

1. Make your goals specific.

In order to make realistic financial goalsyou have to be very specific about what you want to attain. “I will save more money this year,” gives you lots of wiggle room to shirk your new goals. A more specific goal like, “I will save 7% of my income each month,” is very specific and helps keep you on target.

2. Make your goals measurable.

In order to determine if you’re meeting your goals or if you need to step up your efforts, you have to create a goal that includes measurable outcomes. If you set a goal to spend your grocery money more wisely this month, you have to include examples of what smart grocery shopping looks like. Are you buying items in bulk? Do you only buy groceries when they’re on sale? Are you shopping at discount food stores? Are you spending less on higher-priced processed and ready-to-eat foods?

3. Set a time limit.

Who says New Year’s resolutions have to be set in stone as of January 1st? Make a goal for the first thirty days and include a reminder to set another goal for the next month. Can’t make it through thirty days consistently? No problem. Set your goals for smaller periods of time.

4. Reward yourself.

One of the best ways to create a lasting habit is to make the experience pleasurable. Forget the guilt trip over not keeping your resolutions; just give yourself a break and start anew as soon as you realize you’re failing. Reward yourself often for meeting even the smallest aspects of your financial resolutions.

5. Be realistic.

While we’d all love to become millionaires overnight, setting a goal to become “rich” in a short period of time isn’t very realistic. Don’t set yourself up for failure by including unrealistic details in your financial goals. It’s completely acceptable (and encouraged!) to dream, but not to set goals that are impossible to achieve.

6. Get help.

When setting financial goals for the new year, don’t forget to include an accountability partner to help keep you on track. This person can be a trusted friend, family member, or professional that will check in periodically to see how you’re doing with your goals. When you have to answer to someone else, you’re more likely to curb your undesirable behavior.

If you would like to set up a no-cost consultation with the Investment & Retirement Center** located at First Financial Federal Credit Union to discuss your savings and retirement goals, contact Financial Advisor Louis Paolillo at Louis.Paolillo@cunamutual.com or call 732.312.1565.

7. Change your attitude.

One way to reinforce your desire to make lasting changes is to change the way you perceive your finances. Set a goal to read one book a month about finances, take a financial management class, or spend time with people who have a solid grip on their finances. Talk to people who are where you want to be at the end of the year. Surround yourself with information and encouragement to help make this year’s financial resolutions a success.

Tell us what your tricks are for making resolutions that stick! Comment below…

Click here to view the article source.

*First Financial is not responsible for any content listed on external websites. **Representatives are registered, securities are sold, and investment advisory services offered through CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI), member FINRA/SIPC , a registered broker/dealer and investment advisor, 2000 Heritage Way, Waverly, Iowa 50677, toll-free 800-369-2862. Nondeposit investment and insurance products are not federally insured, involve investment risk, may lose value and are not obligations of or guaranteed by the financial institution. CBSI is under contract with the financial institution, through the financial services program, to make securities available to members. CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc., is a registered broker/dealer in all fifty states of the United States of America.