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

4 Healthy Money Moves to Teach Your Kids

Cute little girl is putting dollars in purse, isolated over white

Many parents underestimate just how many things they have to teach a child. From the early basics of manners and potty training to more advanced things, such as having empathy and how to deal with hard life situations, the list goes on and on. That’s why many people neglect areas like financial training.

What else should parents be teaching their kids in regard to finances? Here are four lessons everyone should learn and pass on to their children.

1. Give Every Dollar a Job

Kids need to learn that every dollar needs a purpose from early on. This can be taught when your children get an allowance and birthday money. A portion should go to savings, giving, and spending.

2. Say No to Impulse Buying

Saying “no” to kids when they want something in the store is hard, but it’s disastrous if a child gets used to impulsive buying. Instead, help children come up with a savings goal for a particular item. If they are saving $50 for a special toy, then they need to know that $2 impulse buys on candy or smaller toys will ultimately delay their saving goal and make them less happy.

3. Learn How to Comparison Shop

Teaching your child how to take the time to do research will help their money go further. A new tablet might cost $250, but if they shop eBay or Amazon, they can get a refurbished model for half the price.

Along with comparing prices, teach kids to look up reviews on items. It’s awful to pay a lot of money for an item that doesn’t work like it is advertised. Taking time to research the product beforehand can prevent wasted dollars.

4. Learn How to Bounce Back from Mistakes

Even though you want to equip your child with financial wisdom, there is a good chance they will still make silly money mistakes. That is okay. It’s especially important for kids to make money mistakes now, when only a few dollars are at stake, rather than later when much more money is at risk.

If your child is insistent on buying that low-quality toy or wasting their savings at the arcade, then let them try it. Hopefully they will learn that spending money in this manner doesn’t make them as happy as they thought it would.

The best way to teach your kids to be financially wise is to be an example for them. Don’t be afraid to talk to your children about your finances or about money mistakes you made when you were younger too. Your experience is extremely valuable, and not just to you.

Article Source: Ashley Eneriz for MoneyNing.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

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

 

5 Ways to Keep Your Credit Card from Sabotaging Your Finances

Understand the terms of the card.

You shouldn’t apply for a credit card without reading the terms. Evaluate the card based on the fees, interest rates, and possible rewards. The many cards available each fit different consumers. You have a lot of options and choosing the wrong card could threaten your financial health.

Pay in full.

Making only the minimum payment each month increases the amount of time it will take to pay off your debt. That increase in time allows the interest rate to add on to your debt. Always make sure to pay off as much of your balance as you can each month.

Don’t use your card on everyday purchases.

Using you credit card as a substitute for cash is a bad habit that can easily lead you down a path to debt. When you buy food, clothes, or gas, try to use cash or your debit card so you won’t overspend.

Don’t go over your limit.

If you’re getting close to your limit, clearly you are spending too much. The last thing you can afford to do is go over that limit and incur the additional fees that come with it. These situations are avoidable by responsibly monitoring your spending.

Understand how it effects your credit score.

Ideally you should be paying off your debt every month. If you are unable to do that, you have to make sure that you are paying off at least the minimum (but preferably more than the minimum). This will not damage your credit score, but it will not improve it either. If you miss a payment you can do major damage to your credit score. If you look untrustworthy to creditors it’s not beyond reason that the credit card company would lower your limit. It is a vicious cycle that can be easily avoided by paying in full each month.

First Financial’s Visa Credit Cards come fully loaded with higher credit lines, lower APRs, no annual fees, no balance transfer fees, a 10 day grace period, rewards, and so much more!* Click here to learn about our cards and apply online today.

*APR varies from 11.40% to 18% for the Visa Platinum Card and from 13.40% to 18% for the Visa Signature and Secured Cards when you open your account based on your credit worthiness. These APRs are for purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances and will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate. Subject to credit approval. Rates quoted assume excellent borrower credit history. Your actual APR may vary based on your state of residence, approved loan amount, applicable discounts and your credit history. No Annual Fees. Other fees that apply: Cash advance fee of 1% of advance ($5 minimum and $25 maximum), Late Payment Fee of up to $25, Foreign Transaction Fee of 1% plus foreign exchange rate of transaction amount, $5 Card Replacement Fee, and Returned Payment Fee of up to $25. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a VISA Credit Card and is available to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers, or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties.

Article Source: Tyler Atwell for CUInsight.com