Do you Know Your Banking Basics?

With all the banks and credit unions as well as a growing number of other banking options to choose from, how do you choose which is best for you?

Type of Bank

Benefits

Disadvantages

 Commercial Bank
  • Full range of services (including online)
  • Many branches with ATMs
  • High fees
  • Less personal service
 Credit Union
  • Low fees
  • You have a say in setting policy
  • Need to meet membership requirements
  • Limited access to ATMs
 Savings and Loan
  • Lower fees than commercial banks
  • Personal service
  • Some weekend hours
  • Fewer branches than commercial banks
  • Limited ATM access
 Virtual Bank
  • Higher interest on deposits
  • Banking at your own convenience
  • No personal contact
  • Mail non electronic deposits
  • Fees to use ATM
 Brokerage Firm, Mutual Fund, or Insurance Company
  • Low cost or free checking
  • May provide loans against investment balances
  • May require high minimum balances
  • High fees

Most of these institutions offer the same basic services; the key things to consider when you make your choice are the costs of banking, the hours and locations most convenient for you, and customer service.

Source: Morris, A Woman’s Guide to Personal Finance

Family saving money in a piggy bank

Have You Had the Money Talk With Your Kids?

Ask any child where money comes from, and the answer you’ll probably get is “From a machine!” Even though children don’t always understand where the money comes from, they understand at a young age that they can use money to purchase things they want. Start teaching your children how to handle it wisely as soon as they show interest in it. The lessons you teach your children about money will provide a solid premise for making their own financial decisions in the future.

There are four lessons that you can teach your children about money: learning to handle an allowance, opening a bank account, setting and saving for financial goals, and becoming a smart consumer.

Lesson 1: Handling an allowance

An allowance is usually a child’s first experience with financial independence. Your child can begin developing the skills to saving and budgeting for the things they want. It’s up to you to decide how much to give your child based on your values and family budget.

*A rule used by many parents is to give a child 50 cents or 1 dollar for every year of age.*

Here are some things to keep in mind when dealing with allowances:

  • Set some boundaries. Talk to your child about the types of purchases you expect, and how much of their money should go towards savings.
  • Stick to a consistent schedule. Your child’s allowance should be given on the same day each week with the same amount.
  • You may also consider giving an allowance “raise” to reward your child if they handle their allowance responsibly.

Lesson 2: Bank Accounts

Taking your child to open an account is an easy way to introduce the notion of saving money.
Many banks have programs that provide activities designed to help children learn financial basics. Here are some other ways you can help your child develop good savings habits:

  • Help your child understand how interest compounds by showing him or her how much “free money” has been earned on deposits.
  • Allow your child to take a few dollars out of the account occasionally.
    • Your child may lose interest in saving if they never see money coming out of their account.

Lesson 3: Financial Goals

Children don’t always see the value of putting money away for the future. How can you get your child excited about setting and saving for financial goals? Here are a few ideas:

  • Let your child set his or her own goals to give some incentive to save.
  • Write down each goal, and the amount that must be saved on a regular basis to reach that goal.
    • This will help your child learn the difference between short-term and long-term goals.
  • Put a picture of the item your child wants to an item that can represent their goals like a piggy bank.

Your child will learn to make the connection between setting a goal and saving for it.
Finally, don’t expect a young child to set long-term goals. Young children may lose interest in goals that take longer than one or two weeks reach. Over time, your child will learn to become more disciplined in their savings.

Lesson 4: Becoming a Smart Consumer

Children are constantly tempted to spend money, but not wisely. Your child needs guidance from you to make smart purchasing decisions.

  • Set aside one day every month to take your child shopping. This will encourage your child to save up for something he or she really wants rather than buying on impulse.
  • Just say no. Teach your child to thoroughly consider purchases by explaining that you will not buy them something every time you go shopping.
  • Show your child how to compare items based on price and quality. Take them grocery shopping and explain why you are purchasing a certain item over another.
  • Let your child make mistakes. Eventually, your child will learn to make good choices even when you’re not there to give advice.
Guiding Parents with Dignity

Your Parents are Aging, What Questions Should You Be Asking Them?

As you age, you may find your parents struggling with illness as they age as well. As their daughter, you may be responsible for their care. The emotional and financial strain can be exhausting and the commitment may compromise your career. It can be difficult know where to start when helping your aging parents. Here are some questions to ask yourself to get started:

  • What institutions hold your assets?
  • Ask your parents for a list of their bank, brokerage, and retirement accounts, including account numbers and online usernames and passwords, if applicable.
  • You should also know where to find their insurance policies (life, home, auto, disability, long-term care), Social Security cards, titles to their house and vehicles, outstanding loan documents, and past tax returns. If your parents have a safe-deposit box or home safe, make sure you can access the key or combination.
  • Do they currently work with any financial, legal, or tax advisors? If so, get a list of names with contact information.
  • Do they have a durable power of attorney? A durable power of attorney is a legal document that allows a named individual (such as an adult child) to manage all aspects of a parent’s financial life if he or she becomes disabled or incompetent.
  • Do they have a will? If so, find out where it’s located and who is named as executor. If it’s more than five years old, your parents may want to review it to make sure their current wishes are represented. Ask if they have any specific personal property disposition requests that they want to discuss now.
  • Are their beneficiary designations up-to-date? Designated beneficiaries on insurance policies, pensions, IRAs, and investments trump any instructions in your parents’ wills.
  • Do they have an overall estate plan? A trust? A living trust can help manage an estate while your parents are still living.

(Questions from 360 degrees of financial literacy)

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Women examining her finances

Your Financial Assets, Defined

An asset is a resource with economic value that an individual, corporation, or country owns or controls with the expectation that it will provide future benefit. Assets have four characteristics:

Maturity: Short-term or Long-term

Short-term assets are available for use within one year. One example of a short-term asset is a cash holding. A long-term asset is a stock, bond or other asset that an investor plans to hold for a long period of time. An example of a long-term asset is a retirement account.

Use: Personal, Investment, or Business

A personal use asset is a type of property that an individual does not use for business purposes or hold as an investment. An investment property is a real estate property that has been purchased with the intention of earning a return on the investment. A business asset is a piece of property or equipment purchased exclusively or primarily for business use.

Tax Treatment: Qualified or Nonqualified

A qualified asset refers to the special tax treatment given to investments held in employer-sponsored or individual retirement plans. Non-qualified holding is an investment that does not qualify for any level of tax-deferred or tax-exempt status. They are taxed on an ongoing basis as they earn income.

Security Type: Fixed Income or Equity

Fixed income assets or bonds are types of investing or budgeting styles. Real return rates or periodic incomes are received at regular intervals and at reasonably predictable levels. Equity is a stock or any other security representing ownership.

Source: Investopedia.com

Financially Savvy Women are educated about investments

3 Simple Steps to Becoming More Confident with Your Money

Women are notorious for putting off making important financial decision or even facing their financial life, why? The most common answer is “I don’t know enough” or “I don’t understand it all.”

As a result they hold off and procrastinate until a crisis forces change (not a great strategy).

So how much do you really have to know in order to make progress with your investment?  It really all starts with three simple steps:

  1. Know how to read your statements: Come to us and we will gladly coach you through these statements so that each month you are crystal clear as to what your money is doing for you.
  1. Know what returns you are trying to achieve:  We have determined a number of factors that can help you achieve financial independence, one of those factors is your “Average rate of return” If you can’t remember this number ask us.  This number should be your guide as to how well you are doing because it’s really all about you achieving your goals.
  1. Know the function of each of your investments: You don’t necessarily have to understand the inner workings of the investment but you should know whether the investment is designed to protect your principle, generate income, grow at a steady pace, reduce risk or provide tax deferred growth.
Building Wealth image

What are an Investor’s Best Friends’?

Meet diversification, patience and consistency.

Any investor would do well to call on three friends during the course of his or her financial life: diversification, patience and consistency. Regardless of how the markets perform, they should be a part of your investment philosophy.
Diversification. The saying “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” has real value when it comes to investing. In a bear market, certain asset classes may perform better than others. Ditto for a bull market. If your assets are mostly held in one kind of investment (say, mostly in mutual funds, or mostly in CDs or money market accounts), you could be hit hard by stock market losses, or alternately lose out on potential gains that other kinds of investments may be experiencing. So there is an opportunity cost as well as risk.

This is why asset allocation strategies are used in portfolio management. A financial advisor can ask you about your goals and tolerance for risk and assign percentages of your assets to different classes of investments. This diversification is designed to suit your preferred investment style and your objectives.
Patience. Impatient investors obsess on the day-to-day doings of the stock market. Have you ever heard of “stock picking” or “market timing”? How about “day trading”? These are all attempts to exploit short-term fluctuations in value. These investing methods might seem fun and exciting if you like to micromanage, but they will add stress and anxiety to your life, and they are a poor alternative to a long-range investment strategy built around your life goals.
Consistency. Most people invest a little at a time, within their budget, and with regularity. They invest $50 or $100 or more per month in their 401(k) and similar investments through payroll deduction or automatic withdrawal. In essence, they are investing on “autopilot” to help themselves build wealth for retirement and for long-range goals. Investing regularly (and earlier in life) helps you to take advantage of the power of compounding as well.
Are diversification, patience and consistency part of your investing approach? Make sure they are. If you don’t have a long-range investment strategy, talk to a qualified financial advisor today. Please let us know by posting your comments on our Financially Savvy Women Fanpage.

Do you have money questions

Delayed Gratification Today, For A Better Retirement Tomorrow

A little “delayed gratification” may help you retire more comfortably.

Baby boomers are known for wanting more out of life – and for living life on their own terms. They also get a bad rap as a generation weaned on instant gratification – wanting it all now, wanting to have it both ways.
It is neither wise nor truthful to paint a generation with a broad brush. What we do know in 2016 is that more Americans than ever are poised to retire. In fact, 10,000 Americans will turn 65 each day during the, last 6 years and for the next 12 years.1 Will their retirements match their expectations?
Are boomers in for a collective shock? Many boomers are used to affluence and expect creature comforts in retirement. Yet many may not understand how much money retirement will require. A 2010 study from the non-profit Employee Benefit Research Institute estimates that about half of “early” boomers (those aged 56-62) will face a retirement shortfall – someday, they will have inadequate income to pay medical costs and core retirement expenses. EBRI also estimates that 43.7% of “late” boomers (those aged 46-55) are likely to exhaust their retirement savings as well.2

Investing aside, what about the way we spend? EBRI research director Jack VanDerhei told TheStreet.com that beyond federal policy decisions, “[what is] even more important is to identify which of those households still have time to modify their behavior to achieve retirement security, and how they need to proceed.” 2

What is a need and what is a luxury? Now here is where it gets interesting. In a new survey of more than 1,000 boomers conducted by MainStay Investments, more than half the respondents identified “pet care” and “an internet connection” and “shopping for birthdays and special occasions” as basic needs. Almost half checked off “weekend getaways” and “professional hair cutting/coloring” as basic needs. Perhaps the definition of a “basic need” is expanding. Or perhaps we have gotten so used to these perks that we can’t imagine living without them (and not spending money on them).3
Boomers are necessarily growing more pragmatic. The MainStay survey results hint at a shift in their financial outlook. The survey found that 76% of boomers were willing to work longer and save more in pursuit of more retirement comfort.3
Additionally, 40% of those surveyed said they will have to delay retirement in order to afford their desired lifestyle – and 47% said they would be willing to live in a smaller house to have more of the above luxuries/needs. A whopping 84% of respondents indicated they would be willing to allocate a portion of their assets so that they might have consistent lifelong income. However, just 52% of them were in contact with a financial consultant.3
We can learn from our elders. Look at the sacrifices made by the “greatest generation”. World War II demanded so much from Americans, not only in the theatres of combat but at home. For several years, new cars weren’t manufactured, travel was discouraged, and food, clothing and gasoline were rationed. The entire economy was rearranged, and more than 40 million Americans had to start paying federal income tax.4
This generation certainly understood delayed gratification. Yet with all that economic and political upheaval, its members collectively enjoyed the most comfortable retirement in American history (and perhaps the history of the world).
Will we pay for today’s lifestyle tomorrow? Financially, that is a risk we face. Many of us have not saved enough for retirement, and the financial markets have been especially volatile of late. So it only figures that spending less and saving more today could help us out tomorrow. Who knows – if some extra effort is put in now, we may end up with enough money to “live it up” later.
Citations
1 – http://www.sacbee.com/2010/08/29/2990176/baby-boomers-signal-shift-in-what.html
2 – http://www.thestreet.com/story/10806795/even-wealthy-face-retirement-shortfall.html
3 – http://www.reeerisa.com/news/fe_daily.aspx?StoryId={66D70228-CEFE-4782-9058-F2F2DAB68DD1}
4 – http://www.nationalww2museum.org/education/for-students/america-goes-to-war.html

Family saving money in a piggy bank

Are your Kids Prone to Affluenza?

Children can become master manipulators finding ways to get you to pay for what they want. It starts as early kindergarten (sometimes sooner) barraging you for candy at the checkout counter (what mother hasn’t given in to that pressure), or perhaps it’s the latest and greatest toy (that typically keeps their interest for a week) or the latest fashion created by a rock star (that often has less material then most parents consider decent with 3x the price tag).
As a parent this constant pressure can become overwhelming creating a sort of entitlement syndrome or a state of affluenza in our children setting them up for financial failure. The key to helping kids learn how to manage their money effectively is helping them understand the difference between what they NEED and WANT and then managing their money accordingly. Here is a simple program that can simplify your life, reduce the constant pressure and teach your children a lifelong lesson:
Preventing Affluenza:

  1. Use school lunches as the basis to their monthly allowance, if it costs $4.00 a day for a hot lunch establish their monthly allowance at $80.00. $80.00 may seem like a lot but trust me we often spend more due to a lack of budget. They can choose to use this money on hot lunch, or bring a lunch and save the money for other things they WANT, like fun clothes, movies with friends, ice cream etc…. the choice is theirs.
  2. Open a checking account/savings account that gives them access to the ATM machine. Let them know that $40.00 will be deposited into the account on the 1st and 15th of each month and be consistent with the deposits if you want this to work.
  3. Clarify what is a NEED and what is a WANT. Food on the table, books and necessary school supplies, basic clothing are needs while designer clothing, a must have skate board or pizza parties is a WANT.
  4. Stay firm in your stance as to what they NEED and allow them to run out of money from time to time, even when it’s a special opportunity and they have no funds left you are NOT in the business of lending.

While you may hear a few complaints from time to time, like “John’s parent’s pay for everything!” Make sure to hold your ground, as your children will learn valuable management skills that will have a positive impact on the rest of their lives.

If you won the lottery would you…

We all talk about winning the lottery, some just talk about it while others consistently buy tickets in hopes of winning the “Big Pay Day”. Whether it’s the lottery, a substantial inheritance ,or sudden financial windfall, how would you use that money? Without thoughtful preparation, a windfall can become your downfall. Consider the following:

  • If you won the lottery tomorrow how would you spend the money?
  • What would your objective be or what would you hope to accomplish with this money?
  • How can I make this money last my lifetime and beyond?
  • In what ways can I use this money in meaningful ways?