3 Tips When You’re Living Paycheck to Paycheck

If you’re currently living paycheck to paycheck, when payday hits you think you have all the money in the world. But then, after bills are paid and groceries are bought, there is probably very little money for anything extra. Keep in mind, that even though it may seem stressful, if you follow these tips and save, you can make it work!

Trim the fat.

Take a closer look at things you pay for that you don’t actually NEED. For example, maybe you have over 200 television channels in addition to Netflix. Why would you pay for an abundance of channels you do not actually ever watch? If you cut your package down to the bare minimum; keeping only the basic channels it may lower your monthly bill by close to $100.

Cut those coupons.

Unfortunately going grocery shopping is not what it used to be. It is next to impossible to leave the store without spending at least $100. Therefore, it is important you do everything you can to cut food costs. One way to do this is to use every coupon you can. You don’t have to be an extreme coupon-cutter to take advantage of the savings because every little bit helps. Think about it- if you find a coupon for 75 cents off a bar of soap and you don’t use it, isn’t that like throwing money away?

Come up with a game plan.

When you get paid, do you sit down and make an actual budget? This is something many people struggle with – but when you actually do it, it does make a difference. Give yourself an allowance for the “extras,” even if it’s $15-$20. It takes willpower, but it’s important to not get ahead of yourself if you’re short on cash. The feeling of having less of a financial burden and therefore less stress will be worth it in the end, even if you have to pass on the occasional happy-hour or dinner out with friends.

Article Source: Wendy Bignon for CUInsight.com

 

3 Bad Habits to Break if You Want More Money in the Bank

Even if you’re doing a good job of saving money, you probably didn’t start as early as you wish you had. If you’re still overspending your budget, there are probably some bad habits you need to break. Here are a few things you should stop doing to save more money.

Waiting for a bigger paycheck before you start investing.

We’ve all probably thought about the things we would be able to do if we made more money. Some of these things make sense, but others are just plain wrong. Investing in your future is something you should never put on hold. Thanks to compound interest, you have a great way to prepare for retirement, and the earlier you start – the better.

Questions about retirement savings or investments? To set up a complimentary consultation with the Investment & Retirement Center located at First Financial Federal Credit Union to discuss your savings goals, contact us at 732.312.1564, email samantha.schertz@cunamutual.com or stop in to see us!*

Not paying attention to spending habits.

If you don’t know where your money is going, you definitely have a spending problem. You should keep track of every dime you spend, so you can find out ways to cut back on unnecessary items and save.

Dipping into savings.

Whether it’s a retirement account or an emergency fund, leave it alone. If you take money from your IRA, you’ll suffer penalties and taxes and it’ll damage the progress you’ve made with your compound interest. If you take from your emergency fund, you’ll be hurting when that emergency arises. Keep this in mind before you spend all that you’ve put away.

*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: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

5 Money Saving Travel Apps

You’ve arrived at your destination, now what? Take advantage of having a smartphone and download these helpful travel apps!

WhatsApp – More than 1 billion people around the world use this calling and messaging service. The app is free, secure, and it allows you to interact with family and friends through voice or text without having to pay additional fees or charges. The app will run off your internet access, so as long as you have service – you can stay in touch with the important people in your life at no cost, no matter where you are.

Free Wi-Fi Finder – This app will help you find free Wi-Fi access in more than 50 countries around the world. Traveling is already so expensive, so why waste your data when you can use this free app to locate Wi-Fi, and connect on the go?

OpenTable – Using this app, you can make restaurant reservations at more than 33,000 establishments worldwide and also earn points which can later be converted into gift cards.

Hopper – Downloading this app can potentially save you 40% on your next flight. Just enter your preferred itinerary and wait to be notified. The app will search for deals and immediately inform you of the best time to book your trip.

Roomer – What if you make hotel reservations and your plans change? What if you can’t cancel and you’re stuck paying for a room you don’t need? Enter the Roomer app that connects those who have an empty (and paid for) hotel room, with travelers on the lookout for the best hotel rates. Just enter details on the room you’re trying to sell and the app promotes the room to travelers at a discounted price.

Happy, easy, and safe travels!

Article Source: Wendy Bignon for CUInsight.com

Keep or Shred: Spring Cleaning for Financial Documents

Along with spring cleaning our closets and homes, it’s also important to take a look at that pile of papers gathering dust in the kitchen drawer or your home office. Are you holding onto financial documents that can be shredded, or should you continue to (carefully) keep those records on hand? Here are four types of financial documents and tips for whether to keep them or shred them.

Credit Card Statements: ATM or deposit receipts can be tossed after the transaction is recorded, but credit card statements should be kept until a payment is made and appears on the next statement. Receipts for anything purchased on your credit card should also be kept until the statement arrives so you can confirm you were charged the appropriate amount.

Student Loans: When you originally took out your student loan you were given a master promissory note. This document shows how you promised to pay your loan and any accrued interest and it should be kept securely until your loan is completely paid off.

Mortgage/Lease: Because many mortgage lenders now allow for electronic payments, most documents associated with your home will be available anytime on their webpage. However, if you have paper copies of your closing documents – you may want to file these away for safe keeping anyway, and to have a hard copy on hand. If you are leasing your residence, transaction histories may not be available online, so hold onto your lease and any record of rent payments made. That way if there is a dispute with your landlord, you will have the necessary detailed documents handy.

Car and Health Insurance: Many insurance companies will send policies via email or will allow you to create an account on their website and access your secure documents at your convenience. If this is the case, there is no need to keep any paper copies that are mailed to you. If there isn’t an electronic copy, file away your policy information until the next year when the new plan information arrives. Life insurance policies are an exception and should be filed away forever.

Article Source: Wendy Bignon for CUInsight.com

5 Ways to Budget Being a Wedding Guest

Wedding season is upon us! When it feels like everyone you know is getting married, it can be overwhelming on your budget. Whether you are invited to weddings of friends, family members, or co-workers, here’s how to stay on budget.

Make a Yearly Budget.

How much can you afford to spend on weddings, parties, and gifts this year? Set a budget and stick to it. If your entire budget for the whole year is $600, then realistically, you may only be able to attend one or two weddings for the year, while still having money left over for other events and birthdays.

It is wise to divide your yearly budget by 12 and save up a little each month. This way you will have money set aside for a future wedding and the expense won’t be an unpleasant surprise to your budget.

It’s Okay to Say No.

It is important to prioritize events in your life, especially if you are on a tight budget or schedule. As much as you might like your co-workers, you don’t need to attend every event they invite you to. This goes for friends you have grown apart from.

There is no need to explain that money is an issue. Instead, graciously decline, saying that you have another commitment that day but that you hope their day is an amazing one. It’s important to tell the couple no right away if you know you won’t be attending, so that they can plan accordingly.

Remember to Count All the Costs.

As a wedding guest, your costs aren’t just the gift you give to the couple. You also have to calculate associated costs like attire, travel expenses, babysitter costs, etc. You might spend $100 on a gift, but a wedding can end up costing you more than double the gift amount after you calculate all of the other costs.

If you are part of the wedding, your costs are multiplied, considering the costs of wedding party attire, alterations, make up, hair, and all of the wedding events you are required to attend, such as showers and bachelor/bachelorette parties. Only assume the financial responsibility for close friends and family members if money is a concern.

Contribute to Group Gifts.

Try to contribute to a group gift if you can’t afford to give a large gift by yourself. Not only will you save money, but you will help fund a gift the couple really wants. This is an especially good idea for co-workers, since many people will feel obliged to give a gift but will want to save money.

DIY Gifts – Please Don’t.

While DIY projects save a lot of money in other areas of your life, it is probably best to give even a small amount of money or gift card – rather than risking a handmade gift. Obviously there are exceptions to this rule, like if you are extremely talented or the couple requests a handmade gift.

If you plan ahead and save a little at a time, sticking to your wedding guest budget will be a no brainer!

Article Source: Ashley Eneriz for MoneyNing.com

Financial Milestones Everyone Needs to Achieve

Everyone has a different life plan and different expenses. No matter what that looks like, make sure you’re checking off these financial milestones.

Start saving for retirement.

It’s very important to start saving early for your retirement. You benefit more from saving early, and the longer you wait, you’ll have a lot less.

Pay off student loans.

Education is getting more and more expensive and the student debt crisis is consistently in the news as a serious problem. Some students have resigned to never paying their debt off and just perpetually rolling them over. Pay them off as soon as you can.

Establish a good credit history.

While you may have missed some payments when you were younger and made some mistakes with your finances, it is important to redeem them. Developing a solid credit history will help with big purchases and shows how responsible you can be with paying your bills.

Invest in more than a retirement plan.

Whether it’s something simple like mutual funds or something more advanced like stocks, it is important to have your money diversified in something beyond a basic savings account.

Maximize employer benefits.

If you work somewhere that provides you with perks, you should be using them to the fullest. Employer match accounts are effectively the closest thing to free money that exists, so the sooner you maximize your benefits, the better.

Have a positive net worth.

This is the moment that everything you earn becomes pure profit. There is nothing more exciting than when assets – liabilities = a positive number.

Buy your first home.

Buying a home is easily one of the largest financial obligations most people will experience, and it may determine your spending habits for the future.

Deciding when to retire.

There are quite a few things to consider when it comes to retirement, and they differ for everyone. Deciding when to collect social security, how much you need in savings, and how you plan to spend are just a few of the things you may need to think about.

If you need advice or help with putting any of these financial milestones in place for your lifestyle – contact First Financial! We can help you purchase a home, create and manage a budget, assist you with improving your credit score, consolidate your debt, and our Investment and Retirement Center can help you retire and invest with peace of mind.* Contact us today to get started.

*$5 in a base savings account is your membership deposit and is required to remain in your base savings account at all times to be a member in good standing. All credit unions require a membership deposit. Membership is open to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers or attends school in Monmouth and Ocean County.

Article Source: Tyler Atwell for CUInsight.com