4 Money Skills You Should’ve Had Yesterday

Everyone’s life is different and we all learn life skills in a different order, at a different age, and at a different place. No matter where you’re at, here are 4 money skills you should have.

Negotiating purchases: When you were shopping for your first new car you probably didn’t have a clue about how much you should spend or how much the car was really worth. It’s time to do your homework. Negotiation is a battle and you need to show up to the dealership prepared with knowledge as your ammo. Don’t just accept the price of the first car you like. Make a counter-offer that’s reasonable and don’t be afraid to say no and walk away. Stick to your gameplan and you’ll end up with a good deal.

Here’s how to buy a car in 5 easy steps!

Budgeting your paycheck: Your first job put more money in your pocket than you’d ever made in your life and you probably spent like crazy. Now that you’re older, you need to be seriously thinking about your spending habits and saving for retirement. If you haven’t used a budget before, find one and stick to it. If you’ve been living paycheck to paycheck, it’s time to stop.

Check out our budgeting guide for some helpful hints on creating a budget.

Maximizing your credit score: When you’re young, you don’t care about your credit score. But it’s never too early to start paying attention to it. Anything you purchase that requires making payments will be affected by your credit score. The higher your score, the better your interest rate, which will save you a lot of money over the life of the loan.

Using your credit cards: Credit cards are a valuable tool when used correctly. When used irresponsibly, they can turn on you in a heartbeat. When you get that first credit card, use it periodically to build credit. DON’T overspend. If you want to use your credit card more often, make sure you pay it off every month. EVERY SINGLE MONTH. Don’t miss payments and don’t leave a balance. If you stick to those rules, you’ll be in good shape.

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

4 Items You Should Never Carry in Your Wallet

When it comes to your wallet – there are some things you should surely throw away, and there are others you should take out and file away immediately to prevent identity theft.

Social Security Card

It may seem obvious to not carry this with you, but many people have long kept their SS card in their wallet. But think about it, if you have your number memorized, which most of us do, when do you actually need your card? Have you ever had to present your card to someone? Carrying this information around with you is a bad idea. If the wrong person gets ahold of your social security number, you could end up with loans opened up in your name and new credit card accounts.

Passwords

It seems every website we visit now requires a password. How are we ever supposed to keep up with them all? It’s a great idea to have a cheat sheet where all your passwords are kept, but do not be tempted to keep this information in your wallet. Instead, keep your notes at your desk, locked in your phone, or filed away somewhere at home with other sensitive information.

Credit Cards

Many of us are way past the point of having a credit card just for “emergencies.”  It’s hard to check out at any retail store without being asked if we’d like to “save 10% by opening up a store credit card.” No matter how many cards you have, it’s wise not to carry all of them in your wallet at once. Think about it: if your wallet is stolen or lost, would you want someone to have access to every account you have? Instead, keep one card with you for those emergencies and leave the others at home in a safe place – unless you are specifically going to that particular store. This can also keep you from making spur of the moment purchases you’ll likely regret.

Receipts

Once you get home from a store after making a purchase, decide right then if you need to hold on to the receipt. Is there a chance you’re going to return the item? If not, then toss the receipt right away. If it is a larger purchase or some type of home technology, you may want to keep the receipt until after the purchase shows on your next credit card statement, to ensure you were charged the correct amount and that the item functions properly.

Don’t wait until it’s too late! Be sure to enroll in First Financial’s Identity Theft Protection Program from Sherpa today. The best part? You can enroll right online, 24/7. You can trust in First Financial and Sherpa to help keep your personal information protected. Packages begin at just $5.99 per month – so click here to enroll today!

Article Source: Wendy Bignon for CUInsight.com

How to Eliminate Debt Using the Snowball Method

The snowball method is a simple debt elimination strategy that can be employed by anyone of any income level to quickly pay off debt.

Begin by making a chart of all outstanding debt and list your monthly payment.

Then, organize your debt in order of highest monthly payment to lowest monthly payment.

Each month, pay the minimum payment on all debt except the lowest.

For the lowest debt, pay the minimum plus any extra you can. Ideally, pay double (or more if possible) to quickly pay off this loan.

After the lowest debt is paid off, roll what you were paying on it into the next lowest debt. It will be the next loan you pay off.

This accumulation method, like a snowball effect, works because it’s clear and concise.

By tackling the smallest debt first, it’s easier not to be overwhelmed. Once it’s paid off, you’ll feel more empowered to tackle debt after debt till there’s none left!

Article Source: Jennifer Reynolds for CUInsight.com

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