5 Tips to Spring Clean Your Finances

For many Americans, spring is a time to clean, sort and tidy up around the house.  As you dust your shelves and rid your home of clutter, consider setting aside some time to organize your finances.

“The arrival of spring motivates people to renew their surroundings, and what better way to focus that momentum than to check off everything on your financial to-do list?” asked Corey Carlisle, executive director of the ABA Foundation. “Taking stock of your finances and planting the seeds of new saving habits today will go a long way toward alleviating pressures on your pocket throughout the year.”

The American Bankers Association recommends these five tips to help you refresh your finances:

  • Evaluate and pay down debt. Take a look at how much you owe and what you are paying in interest. If there are better rates available now, consider requesting a lower credit card interest rate or refinancing your mortgage. Begin paying off existing debt, whether that’s by chipping away at loans with the highest interest rates or eliminating smaller debt first.
  • Review your budget. A lot can change in a year. If you’ve been promoted, had a child, or become a new homeowner or renter, be sure to update your budget. Determine what expenses demand the most money and identify areas where you can realistically cut back. Develop a strategy for spending and saving and stick to it.
  • Check your credit report. Every year, you are guaranteed one free credit report from each of the three bureaus. Take advantage of these free reports and check them for any possible errors. Mistakes can drag down your score and prevent you from getting a loan, or cause you to pay a higher than necessary interest rate.
  • Sign up for e-statements, paperless billing and text alerts. Converting to paperless billing will help keep your house—physical and financial—more clean and organized, and will help protect you from fraud.
  • Set up automatic bill pay. By signing up for automatic bill pay, you’ll never have to worry about a missed payment impacting your credit score. You can set it so that money is withdrawn from your checking account on the same day each month.

 

Resource information provided by the American Bankers Association 

6 Financial Traps New College Graduates Should Avoid

This spring, college seniors across the nation will graduate and start their careers. Financial lifestyle should be top of mind, says the American Bankers Association. ABA has highlighted six traps new college graduates should avoid to fortify their finances as they transition from the dorm to the office.

“Now is the time for college grads to get their financial life started on the right foot,” said Corey Carlisle, executive director of the ABA Foundation. “When it comes to managing your finances in the real world, pulling an all-nighter isn’t the best strategy.  Forming positive financial habits today will set you up for lifelong success.”

According to ABA, new college graduates should avoid the following financial traps:

Not having a budget.  Don’t spend more than you make. Calculate the amount of money you’re taking home after taxes, then figure out how much money you can afford to spend each month while contributing to your savings. Be sure to factor in recurring expenses such as student loans, monthly rent, utilities, groceries, transportation expenses and car loans.

Forgoing an emergency fund.  Make it a priority to set aside the equivalent of three to six months’ worth of living expenses. Start putting some money away immediately, no matter how small the amount. A bank savings account is a smart place to stash your cash for a rainy day. Use your tax refund for this instead of an impulse buy.

Paying bills late – or not at all. Each missed payment can hurt your credit history for up to seven years, and can affect your ability to get loans, the interest rates you pay and your ability to get a job or rent an apartment. Consider setting up automatic payments for regular expenses like student loans, car payments and phone bills.

Racking up debt. Understand the responsibilities and benefits of credit.  Shop around for a card that best suits your needs, and spend only what you can afford to pay back. Credit is a great tool, but only if you use it responsibly.

Not thinking about the future.  It may seem odd since you’re just beginning your career, but now is the best time to start planning for your retirement. Contribute to your employer’s 401(k) or similar account, especially if there is a company match. Invest enough to qualify for your company’s full match – it’s free money that adds up to a significant chunk of change over the years.

Ignoring help from your bank. Most banks offer online, mobile and text banking tools to manage your account night and day.  Use these tools to check balances, pay bills, deposit checks, monitor transaction history and track budgets. To learn about the tools Stock Yards has to offer, visit our website at www.syb.com.

Resource information provided by the American Bankers Association

The Importance of Financial Planning at Any Age

DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN BY ADVICENT SOLUTIONS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. ©2013, 2016 ADVICENT SOLUTIONS, AN ENTITY UNRELATED TO STOCK YARDS BANK & TRUST. THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS ARTICLE IS NOT INTENDED TO BE TAX, INVESTMENT, OR LEGAL ADVICE, AND IT MAY NOT BE RELIED ON FOR THE PURPOSE OF AVOIDING ANY TAX PENALTIES. STOCK YARDS BANK & TRUST DOES NOT PROVIDE TAX OR LEGAL ADVICE. YOU ARE ENCOURAGED TO CONSULT WITH YOUR TAX ADVISOR OR ATTORNEY REGARDING SPECIFIC TAX ISSUES.

It’s easy to think that a financial plan is only necessary when you need to make a big purchase or rearrange your portfolio. However, financial planning affects much more than your bank account, and a successful plan should follow you through all the stages of your life. In a financial climate where more than half of Americans don’t have a budget and just over 40 percent of baby boomers don’t have a will, it seems that many could benefit from planning. Yet the fact remains that just one out of three household financial decision-makers say they have any kind of comprehensive financial plan. Prevalent among the reasons to avoid planning are “I’m too young to need a financial plan,” “I’m too old to get a financial plan,” or “I’ve made it this long without one, so why get one now?” When these doubts are raised, it’s important to consider that your financial plan isn’t something that can be made and then forgotten about, nor should it only be remembered when you find you’re low on funds; to succeed, it will need to be fluid and change as your situation changes. Read on to discover the importance of financial planning at any age.

ON YOUR MARK, GET SET, GO! PLANNING IN YOUR 20s

As a 20-something, you probably think that you’re too young and have too few resources to warrant a financial plan. Before you write off financial planning using this logic, consider that your 20s are when you establish the financial base for the rest of your life. You’re likely earning your first salary and dealing with your first large sources of debt in student loans and car payments. You may be faced with buying your own insurance and investing on your own for the first time. You also have the widest range of financial goals in your 20s, as most of your major life events are still ahead of you. Meeting with a financial planner during this time can improve your financial literacy, helping you learn things like how to set up an emergency fund, make a spending plan and establish good credit. It can also help you set up a basic estate plan, something that’s easy to overlook in your 20s. It can be overwhelming when you’re starting out to be bombarded with all of the things you could be putting money toward. A financial plan can help you prioritize where your money should go by determining your most significant money goals and how to reach them.

Not only are these years a crucial time for financial education, but disregarding a financial plan could cause you to unintentionally squander the biggest asset of your 20s—time. With the power of compound interest, the money you save or invest now can grow exponentially, but wait another 10 years and you may have to contribute a lot more to achieve the same end result. Bottom line? The earlier you start saving and the longer you give your money to grow, the better. There’s no better time to start establishing good money habits than in your 20s, and that all starts with a financial plan

TAKE IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL. PLANNING IN YOUR 30s

If your 20s are to build a foundation for your own financial literacy, your 30s teach you how to cope when that foundation shifts and you find yourself dealing with new and larger challenges. A financial plan at this age can help you deal with some of life’s biggest transitions, such as starting a family or becoming a homeowner. These can bring on newer and bigger sources of debt, so a crucial aspect of financial planning at this time is to eliminate non-mortgage debt, such as paying off your car and student loans and paying down credit card debt. These big life changes may also trigger a need for expanded insurance coverage on your home or extended life insurance, if you have a family depending on you. For the same reason, you should review your estate plan, making sure you have a will, living will and power of attorney. You set up the basics of a financial plan in your 20s, and it’s time to reevaluate now that your earnings power has likely increased. You should set a more definite plan for retirement and focus on contributing a set amount each month rather than just maintaining an account. A financial plan can help you review and understand your asset allocation among various types of investments, aligning your investment decisions with your lowered risk tolerance and time horizon. It’s also a good time to check on your emergency fund, and make sure you have three to six months’ worth of income saved should an unforeseen crisis affect your life. Finally, a financial plan can help you direct some of your increased earnings to charity, as you may be approaching a time in your life when you feel stable enough to give back.

MAKE IT OR BREAK IT. PLANNING IN YOUR 40s

Your 40s are a crucial decade for building up retirement savings, and a financial plan can help you make sure you’re on track. While many will start a retirement account on their own, it can be hard to budget for both retirement and non-retirement savings. In fact, roughly one out of three U.S. adults have no form of nonretirement savings. Without financial planning, it can be hard to focus on saving for multiple goals and prioritizing the importance of those goals at different times in your life. For example, although paying for your children’s education may be a factor during your 40s, remember that while there are loans and scholarships available for college, the same is not true for retirement. So, while it’s important to save for both goals, you may have to put your own savings first by allotting more money to a retirement fund than to your child’s education. This can be difficult, especially since most parents are used to putting their children’s needs before their own. Having the third-party perspective of a financial advisor can be especially on the best way to reach multiple financial goals. Your 40s are also a good time to do an overall review of your plan. You may need to increase your insurance coverage, as the insurance offered through your employer may no longer be enough to cover you and your family in the case of a crisis. You will also want to review your estate planning documents and make sure your beneficiaries are up to date. And, since your earnings are likely peaking and this is truly the “make it or break it” time for your retirement savings, your plan should help you determine how to allocate more money toward your IRA or 401(k).

IN THE HOME STRETCH. PLANNING IN YOUR 50s/60s (preretirement)

During this phase of your life, retirement stops being a far-off, abstract concept and becomes real. You should engage in retirement planning with your spouse, including choosing a retirement age and discussing the types of activities you’d like to pursue during retirement. You may want to evaluate your health, as health and insurance needs can factor heavily into your retirement budget. You should be estimating your Social Security benefits and maximizing contributions to your retirement account, including catch-up contributions that you are now eligible for. Since many large expenses, such as your mortgage payment, may soon be behind you, you can push to eliminate a lot of your debt so you can head into retirement debt-free. To stay on top of all of these tasks, you can think of your financial plan during this time as a preretirement checklist, ensuring you’ve covered all of your bases so that you can enjoy the relaxation you deserve during retirement. In addition to checking off your preretirement tasks, it’s likely that a large part of your financial planning will focus on protecting the retirement savings you already have and creating an income strategy for retirement. Because you now have a lower risk tolerance and less time to recover from a dip in the market, your investment strategy will probably need to be more conservative. Ultimately, your financial plan can help you cross-reference your retirement needs and goals with your retirement income, and your financial advisor can help you project whether this income can provide for you throughout your retirement.

KEEP ON KEEPIN’ ON. PLANNING DURING RETIREMENT

You may think that once you reach retirement, you no longer have to worry about financial planning. After all, you’ve made it this far, right? However, there are many unique financial considerations for retirees, not the least of which is how to effectively transfer your wealth to the next generation. You should review your estate plan to make sure that everything is up-to-date and correct, and determine how you want your wealth to be allocated upon your death. Depending on your situation, this may include providing for family and/or friends, setting up trusts or making arrangements for an after-death charitable donation.

As your health needs change during retirement, a financial plan can also help you consider the impact of different senior living options on your budget and evaluate what kind of health care and insurance you need and are eligible for. Similar to your younger years, you will likely have a lot of planning surrounding cash flow issues and how to make the most of your income. Far from being over, financial planning can play a large role in your retiree years, helping you live out the remainder of your life comfortably and with peace of mind.

Stock Yards Wealth Management & Trust wants to be your partner in your financial journey. Our team of Financial Planners provides a process that is complete, from start to finish. We provide a comprehensive set of solutions that are customized to fit your individual needs. No matter what phase of life you are in, we provide the plan and the guidance to help ensure that you are on track to achieve your financial goals.

 

All You Need Is Love — And Financial Intimacy

It’s the season of love, but before couples taking the next step in their relationship, they should shape their financial plan. Stock Yards Bank & Trust reminds customers that taking the next step is not only a marriage of hearts but also a marriage of finances.

Stock Yards Bank & Trust suggests couples use the following tips to achieve financial intimacy:

1. Be mine, or yours? Will you and your spouse-to-be keep finances separated or combine them? Consider individual money styles, having one joint savings account and then separate accounts that you can use how you’d like. Making these financial decisions together will help you find a system that works for you.

2. Love’s Cost. Couples that tackle money problems together, and take mutual responsibility for solving them, will inevitably find that their overall relationships are better for it, so calculate your monthly costs and discuss how bills will be paid. Both may contribute to the bill payment, but who will physically write the check to pay the bills, monitor the investments and take care of the taxes. Consider setting a date every month to review and discuss finances.

3. Sharing Credit. It’s important that spouses are aware of the others’ credit situation. Marrying a person with bad credit will not drag down your stellar record. However, your other half’s credit will be factored in when applying for joint financing. Knowing ahead of time will help you to plan more strategically.

4. Cupid’s Arrow. Couples should develop a plan to shoot down existing debt, starting with the balances that carry the highest interest rates. Whether or not the pair works as a team or alone, debt must be tackled. Think twice before every purchase and ask yourself if it’s worth not putting that money in your savings. You’ll be able to eliminating frivolous spending this way while keeping your priorities top of mind.

5. Sweet Savings. Saving as a couple fosters teamwork and is essential in times of financial hardship. Decide how much you want to save as a couple and do it automatically from your paychecks. It’s important to be realistic when budgeting your monthly savings goal.
Resource information provided by the American Bankers Association.

First-Time Homebuyers: 6 Tips to Save for the House of Your Dreams

According to a 2015 BMO Harris report, 52 percent of Americans plan to buy a home in the next five years.  Saving for a down payment, typically between 5 to 20 percent of the home’s value, is one of the biggest challenges for those aspiring homebuyers. The American Bankers Association Foundation is highlighting six tips to help consumers cut costs and start saving.

“A down payment is often the largest single payment a consumer makes in their lifetime and saving for it isn’t easy,” said Corey Carlisle, executive director of the ABA Foundation. “However, with a few changes, consumers can put themselves on track to make their homeownership dream a reality.”

The ABA Foundation offers prospective homebuyers these saving strategies:

Develop a budget & timeline. Start by determining how much you’ll need for a down payment. Create a budget and calculate how much you can realistically save each month – that will help you gauge when you’ll be ready to transition from renter to homeowner.

Establish a separate savings account. Set up a separate savings account exclusively for your down payment and make your monthly contributions automatic. By keeping this money separate, you’ll be less likely to tap into it when you’re tight on cash. If you received a tax refund, consider putting all or a portion into this account.

Shop around to reduce major monthly expenses. It’s a good idea to check rates for your car insurance, renter’s insurance, health insurance, cable, internet or cell phone plan. There may be deals or promotions available that allow you to save hundreds of dollars by adjusting your contracts.

Monitor your spending. With online banking, keeping an eye on your spending is easier than ever. Track where most of your discretionary income is going. Identify areas where you could cut back (e.g. nice meals out, vacations, etc.) and instead put that money into savings.

Celebrate savings milestones. Saving enough for a down payment can be daunting. To avoid getting discouraged, break it up into smaller goals and reward yourself when you reach each one. If you need to save $30,000 total, consider treating yourself to a nice meal every $5,000 saved. This will help you stay motivated throughout the process.

Look into state and local home-buying programs. Many states, counties and local governments operate programs for first-time homebuyers. Some programs offer housing discounts, while others provide down payment loans or grants. Stock Yard’s Mortgage Banking Group can help you determine what types of offers are available in your area.

Information provided by the American Bankers Association.

6 Banking Tips for Millennials

As millennials juggle a multitude of responsibilities – from school, to work, to planning for major life events – the American Bankers Association is highlighting eight banking tips to help them secure a financially sound future.

“Millennials are digital natives who understand the importance of staying connected socially, but staying connected to their bank can help their finances as they encounter life’s many milestones,” said Rob Nichols, ABA president and CEO. “From enhanced mobile resources to free budgeting tools, banks offer a variety of products and services to complement millennials’ unique lifestyles and ease their worries as they prepare to make some of life’s biggest financial decisions.”

With a recent report finding that more than 4 in 10 U.S. millennials say they are “chronically stressed” about money, ABA recommends these six tips to help them secure a strong financial footing:

  • Use bank tech to save without thinking about it. Consider automatic payroll deductions or automatic transfer from checking to savings. Arrange to have a specific amount transferred to your savings account every pay period. For more information on Stock Yard’s savings options, visit https://www.syb.com/personal/banking/savings.
  • Download your bank’s mobile app and make some smooth moves. Manage your finances from the palm of your hand. With the click of a button, you can easily make a deposit or access a record of all your recent transactions. Be sure to download the latest updates when they are available.
  • Use the personal finance tools your bank may offer. Banks offer an array of budgeting tools and resources to help you keep your finances in check. Access these via your bank’s mobile app and website. Check out Stock Yard’s calculator tools to help you organize financial goals.
  • Expect the unexpected – set up a rainy day fund. The last thing you want to be is stressed when life’s unexpected expenditures come knocking on your door. Set up a secondary checking or savings account for emergencies or link an existing account to your main account as an added layer of protection.
  • Get a head start. Banks play a major role in helping customers prepare for major life events such as buying a house and planning for retirement. Ask your banker how you can get a head start on your first major purchase by establishing credit or about starting a retirement account with a 401(k) from a previous employer.
  • Stay connected with social media. Interact with your bank via social media to get the latest news on products and services, ask bank-related questions and find links to exclusive bank content and resources. Visit Stock Yards on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

For more information on millennial bank customers, including ABA’s recent infographic on millennials compiling information from various sources, visit aba.com/Millennials.

Information provided by the American Bankers Association.

Holiday Giving: How to Become a Savvy Charitable Giver

It’s hard to believe there are only 8 days left until Christmas! For many people, it is important to take time during the holiday season to give to those who are in need.  Donating to your favorite cause can be fulfilling, but it’s important to ensure that your gift reaches the intended source. Follow these tips to become a savvy charitable giver this holiday season:

  • Give To an Established Charity
    Unfortunately, there are fraudulent charities that will take advantage of your goodwill.  To avoid this situation, ask for written information about the charity, including name, address and telephone number. A legitimate charity will give you information about their mission, how your donation will be used and proof that your contribution is tax deductible. Find a charity with a proven track record for providing aid.
  • Designate Your Gift
    Some charities allow you to specify exactly where your gift is headed, either to a specific orphanage, to purchase school supplies or to a geographic area in need of relief.  By designating or earmarking your gift, you control where your donation goes and whom it helps.
  • A Proactive Giver is a Smart Giver
    Wise givers don’t give on an impulse or to the first organization that comes along.  Smart givers take time to identify the causes important to them.  Contact a charitable organization, find out their mission and what type of aid and programs they offer.  Work with charities that have targeted outcomes for their giving.
  • Benefits to You
    A donor’s primary motivation may be altruism, but everyone knows there are great tax benefits for those who give. A donation to a qualified organization may entitle you to a charitable contribution deduction.  Remember a contribution to a qualified charity is deductible only in the year in which it is paid, and all charities do not qualify for a charitable contribution deduction.  Always ask for a receipt and save them for tax time.
  • Consider Giving Your Time
    Four out of five charities report using volunteers.  Volunteers are the foundation of many charitable organizations. If you can’t afford to donate money, consider donating your time.  Common volunteer duties include: stuffing envelopes, feeding animals, tutoring, building homes, serving as a museum docent, counseling those in crisis, selling tickets or answering phone calls.

Visit these other sites to find out more on charitable giving:

Resource information provided by the American Bankers Association