4 Financial Tips for Those in Their 40s

No matter your age, you’ll likely encounter a variety of financial challenges throughout your life. But, the obstacles you faced in your 20s and 30s are far different from those you’ll deal with while in your 40s. Instead of paying off student loan debt, buying your first home, or starting a family, your 40s will likely include a far different set of issues and experiences that will test your financial stability. Below are four money tips for 40-somethings and ways to secure your financial future ahead of retirement.

Refrain from lending to loved ones.

Chances are now that you’re in your 40s you have built a solid financial foundation. If a family member or friend comes to you and asks for a loan, although your heart will tell you to dole out the dough, listen instead to your head. The net worth you’ve worked so hard to accumulate, could quickly be at risk the minute you begin loaning out money to those in your life. Remember, although retirement is still years away, the time is now to save and plan. If you really want to help others out, only loan them an amount you know you’re comfortable with, so you don’t get behind on your expenses.

Travel now, rest later.

Because you have more money (hopefully) now than you did when you were straight out of college, it’s time to treat yourself and take trips with family. You always said once you were in financial order you’d spend money on travel, so stop procrastinating and book your next vacation. The longer you wait, the older you’ll be and the less likely you’ll want to get out of town. Now is the perfect time to use your hard-earned cash on family travel experiences that you’ll remember for a lifetime.

Teach your children to be financially responsible.

Now that you’re in your 40s and your children are a little older, they probably have a better understanding of the value of money than they did when they were younger. This is the perfect time to instill in them the importance of financial literacy and responsibility. Teaching them to make smart money choices even from a young age, will help them to become more confident and independent. This is also a great time to encourage them to get a part-time job so they can learn to budget and save their own money for that brand new iPhone.

Set up an estate plan.

Estate planning is a critical part of planning for your financial future and it includes a variety of aspects, such as wills and trusts. It is always smart to make these arrangements while you are in good health and of sound mind. The first and very critical component of setting up an estate plan, is drafting a will. This detailed document ensures your finances are distributed how you see fit, and aims to curb any potential family disputes. For assistance with this process, find a trusted financial advisor to guide you toward safeguarding the income you’ve acquired over your lifetime.

To set up a complimentary consultation with the Investment & Retirement Center located at First Financial Federal Credit Union to discuss your savings plan goals, email mary.laferriere@cunamutual.com or stop in to see us!*

*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. 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 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.

Article Source: Wendy Moody for CUInsight.com

How to Get Married Financially

Getting married can be a whirlwind experience. Between venue searching, trying on dresses, renting tuxes, assembling the bridal party, booking a DJ, and cake tasting – it can be easy to forget all that getting married means. Underneath the ring exchange and sharing of vows, there is a potentially life-long financial contract which you should also be prepared for.

Before you marry the love of your life, you need to get financially engaged with one another. Right now, disagreements over money are a top reason for separation and divorce. You have already popped the big question, and now it is time to ask a few more.

Here is a list of financial questions you should ask before tying the knot:

  1. What does the ideal marriage look like and how does it fit into our career goals?
  2. What is our savings plan going to look like? Our budget?
  3. Should we keep our finances separate, or join them together?
  4. Who will be responsible for making sure which bills get paid?
  5. What types of insurance will we need and how will we pay it?
  6. Do you have any loans or debt that needs to be paid off?
  7. Do you want a family, and if so – how big do you want our family to be? When should we start saving for college?
  8. What does our ideal retirement look like and how do we get there?

There are many keys to a successful marriage, but together you can make sure you leave out the poorer in “for richer or poorer.” Openly discussing your finances can keep you happy, healthy, and wealthy in your marriage.

Article Source: Tyler Atwell for CUInsight.com

Changing Jobs? Check Your Finances First

Are you considering a job change? If so, it is important to approach your job change with careful consideration.

Not only will a new role involve learning new skills, working with new people, and establishing a new routine, it will also require significant financial planning — at least in the transition period.

So, how can you set yourself up for success while transitioning to a new endeavor? By making sure your finances are in order.

 

5 Financial Tips to Remember When Considering a Job Change

Check your savings. If you already have another job lined up, your savings may only need to tie you over until your new paychecks start coming in. This might sound like a minor concern, but depending on the payroll schedule for your former company and your new employer, it’s entirely possible you could go a month or more between paychecks. If you’re leaving your job without another already lined up, you’ll need enough savings to cover expenses until you accept your next job offer. If you have the luxury of transitioning on your own time frame, aim to have several months’ worth of expenses in a savings account.

Trim your expenses. Admittedly, cutting expenses is never a fun topic of conversation. However, operating on a leaner budget (at least for a little while), can make your career transition far less stressful. So, before accepting a new job offer, take time to review your monthly budget and see if there are any belt-tightening adjustments you can make. Cut back on morning lattes, meal prep at home instead of buying lunch at a restaurant every day, or binge a Netflix series instead of going to a movie at the theater. You’ll be surprised how quickly little savings add up — and those savings can help you bridge the financial gap between jobs.

Review the compensation package. It’s natural to look at a job’s salary when trying to determine whether it’s a better opportunity. This is a good place to start, but there’s more to it than that. Does the prospective employer pay an hourly wage, salary, or combination of base plus commission? Do they cover a portion of employee insurance costs? Is the new employer’s paid time off plan equivalent to the one you’d be giving up? What about holidays? Be sure to compare the entire compensation package instead of just comparing the annual salary.

Account for relocation costs. If your new job will require you to relocate, it’s always a smart idea to look at the cost of living in your new location. A $10,000 per year raise is nice, but if you’re going to spend an additional $15,000 in housing expenses each year, the new job could cause you to fall behind financially. If you need help comparing living expenses, cost of living calculators can be extremely helpful. State income tax rates can be another location-dependent variable worth considering.

Don’t leave money behind. If your current employer offers a 401K or other retirement savings accounts, be sure to make arrangements to take those funds with you. This might seem like a no-brainer, but the fact that orphaned 401K accounts total an estimated $1 trillion – indicates it’s easier to overlook than you might think. When it comes to these employer-sponsored retirement plans, employees have three options when changing jobs: 1. Roll over funds to a 401K plan with the new employer, 2. Roll over the funds into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), or 3. Withdraw the funds. It’s worth noting, however, that withdrawing the money usually incurs a steep penalty. To determine the best approach for your money, it’s always best to consult with a financial advisor. If you need a good place to start, check out the Investment and Retirement Center at First Financial.*

If you’re currently contemplating a job offer or thinking about what it would take for you to make a change, spend a little time crunching numbers. You can also contact your local credit union, and if you live, work, worship, attend school or volunteer in Monmouth or Ocean Counties in NJ – one of the financial representatives at First Financial FCU would be happy to help you make a financial plan. We can help you analyze your current finances, identify the best retirement rollover plans, and find ways to maximize your money in order to make your job change as smooth as possible.

*Securities sold, advisory services offered through CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI), member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker/dealer and investment advisor. CBSI is under contract with the financial institution to make securities available to members. Not NCUA/NCUSIF/FDIC insured, May Lose Value, No Financial Institution Guarantee. Not a deposit of any financial institution. CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc., is a registered broker/dealer in all fifty states of the United States of America.

How to Build Your Savings

Many Americans have little to nothing at all saved up. In the event of any emergency, most people just don’t have any resources to weather the blow. It can be difficult to understand how to build up your savings, but the key is to start little by little. Nothing is impossible once you get started. Here are five tips to help you:

1. Evaluate Your Priorities

To be successful at saving, you have to understand why you need to do it. We all have goals in life. What are yours? When you have a better understanding of what you want to achieve in the short and long term, you can then make plans to save for them. It’s very important to understand what your priorities are, because the reality is that you can’t spend on everything you want to. Be strategic with your budget and only spend where it can help push you further in life.

2. Make Small Changes

Your savings isn’t going to multiply overnight. Results will take time. Many people make the mistake of trying to save too much too soon. When you make too many drastic changes to your life at once, it’s difficult to sustain the effort. You’re likely just to go back to your old, bad spending habits. It’s best to start small and do little things that you barely notice, like making your own coffee in the morning or bringing lunch to work a few days a week. These small efforts sound minuscule, but the savings will start adding up.

3. Make It Automatic

Set it and forget it. That’s the name of the game. The easiest way to save is to make it automatic so that you don’t have the possibility of forgetting to make the deposit. Set automatic payment transfers from your checking to your savings account. You can do this for days you get paid. Start with small transfers and then increase them over time. Eventually, you probably won’t even notice anymore.

4. Get a Side Gig

If you’re just making ends meet and your budget is bare-bones already, it’s probably going to be difficult to start saving no matter how hard you try. In that case, it’s wise to find additional streams of revenue. Many people these days can make extra income right from the comfort of their own home, doing things like freelance writing or graphic design. If you prefer something more hands on, you can moonlight as a handyman, dog walker, or sell crafts on Etsy. There are plenty of options out there for people of any skill set. You just have to find it.

5. Plan Ahead

Lastly, the most important thing to do is to plan ahead. Most of the time, people can’t save because they are caught off guard by their own spending. Be proactive and plan out your weeks and even months ahead. Try your best to stick to a budget and if you find yourself having trouble, adjust the numbers as soon as possible. The more you plan ahead, the easier it will be for you to save any amount of money.

Start small, and work your way towards financial freedom. The effort will be worth it in the end.

Article Source: Connie Mei for Moneyning.com

6 Things to Do Before You Buy Your Next Car

1. Figure Out What You Need

It’s not always about what you want, but what you need. If it’s your first car, you may only need something that will get you from point A to point B and around town – and won’t need to spend a huge chunk of change.

2. Acknowledge What’s Practical

This is about tempering expectations. Before you buy, be realistic about your situation. Is your family growing? You may want to think about a larger vehicle like an SUV or mini van.

3. Check Into Your Credit

Do you know where you stand with your financial reputation? You’ll get better loan terms and be in a better position to negotiate if you have good credit. Look at your credit report to see if there are errors that could drag you down. Also, have a look at your consumer credit scores from free sites like Credit Karma and Credit Sesame. While they aren’t “official,” they can give you a good idea of where you stand.

4. Know Your Budget

You can use car loan calculators to figure out monthly payments versus total loan amounts ahead of time. Know your budget, and be prepared to stand firm. Once you get to the dealer, there’s a good chance they will try to nudge you a bit by focusing on a monthly payment and convincing you to get a 60-month or 72-month loan. Figure out a total price you want to pay for the car, and stick to that.

5. Research the Options

Do your homework.  Look into cost and vehicle reliability. Figure out what works best for you in terms of safety, fuel economy, and so on. Consider Certified Pre-Owned or a lease return if you’d like a newer “used” car. These are lower cost, but still come with warranties and other perks.

6. Look for Incentives and Sales

Look for deals like year-end clearance events and manufacturer incentives. Check to see what’s available before you get out there, then use that information to negotiate the best terms.

For more advice on buying a car – check out our guidebook: Buying a car in 5 easy steps and video. If you live, work, worship, volunteer, or attend school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties in New Jersey – we can help you finance your next vehicle.* Learn more and get started here!

*APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Not all applicants will qualify, subject to credit approval. Additional terms & conditions may apply. Actual rate may vary based on credit worthiness and term. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a First Financial auto loan and is available to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties. See credit union for details. A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account/loan. Federally insured by NCUA.

Article Source: Miranda Marquit for Moneyning.com 

Save Money By Taking Your Spring Cleaning to the Next Level

Springtime is here, and that means it’s time for that beloved annual tradition — spring cleaning. In surveys conducted by the American Cleaning Institute, responses indicate that as many as 91% of Americans and 96% of Millennials engage in spring cleaning, so it seems safe to say we’re all in this together.

As you open the windows and begin your routine of washing, sweeping, dusting, and decluttering, the goal is to spruce up your home’s interior while eliminating things you no longer need. When done correctly, spring cleaning can actually make you happier and healthier. So, it makes sense to be as thorough as possible. This year, while you’re busy cleaning your fixtures and furniture, it might be a good idea to update some common household items to more energy-efficient options. A more efficient home is an investment that can save you money all year long, and we’re pretty sure lower utility bills will boost your mood as well!

Simple Ways to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient This Spring

Energy Saving Power Switch: By completely cutting off all power when an electronic device isn’t in use, these plug-in adapters reduce the costly effects of “vampire energy.” While the term sounds scarier than it should, vampire energy refers to the power that still flows to a device even when it is turned off. These handy switches can be purchased online or in your local hardware store for $10 or less. And with prices that low, your return on investment can be quite substantial.

Low Flow Showerhead: According to a research project conducted by the Alliance for Water Efficiency, the average American shower lasts for just over 8 minutes and uses approximately 17 gallons of water. The average flow rate works out to be roughly 2.1 gallons per minute (gpm). By switching to a low flow shower head that reduces usage to 1.25 gpm, you can save an average of $32 per year per person. For a couple, that means about $64 in savings each year — especially impressive considering that most low flow showerheads can be purchased for $10-15.

Smart Thermostat: The Internet has revolutionized the way we communicate, shop, and even do our banking. Now, thanks to smart products like the Nest Thermostat, it appears that it has also changed the way we save on energy-related expenses. While the initial price of a Nest will set you back approximately $250, the average annual home energy savings of $150 per year means you’ll recoup your investment in less than two years. After that, the savings will continue to add up.

Energy Audits: Not sure where to begin? An energy audit can help! Depending on your location, energy audits can cost anywhere from $250 to $600. And while that might seem like a lot to pay up front, the potential savings can make it worth the investment. During a professional energy audit, efficiency experts utilize specialized tools to identify areas where your home may be using excessive energy, which in turn – can help you pinpoint which improvements will make the biggest difference. To find an energy auditor and prepare for an upcoming audit, check out these helpful tips.

Throughout this article, we’ve talked about a few relatively low cost ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency. But maybe you’re thinking a little bigger this spring. If you need a little more incentive to make big ticket improvements like installing new windows, updating your HVAC system, or adding solar panels, federal tax incentives may provide just the push you’re looking for. Usually available in the form of rebates, these incentives are designed to encourage homeowners to update their home systems to be more energy efficient and sustainable. If you’ve been thinking about making some major energy saving upgrades around your house, don’t forget to see if the upgrades qualify for valuable government incentives. When it comes to saving energy and saving money, every little bit helps!