Category Archives: Budgeting

INVESTMENT INSIGHTS

by Joan Schade

Stock Yards Bank Wealth Management & Trust


We all like to plan and dream about how we’ll spend our retirement years. What does your plan look like? Will you travel, play golf, garden, or visit with friends and family? Maybe you’re planning to move, or perhaps you’d simply like to spend some time relaxing and enjoying some well-earned rest. Sometimes, however, unplanned events arise that leave us stunned and thinking, “What just happened?” Fortunately, if we have the right type of insurance in place it can make dealing with the unexpected a whole lot easier.

When you start to plan for your retirement years it is always a good idea to review the insurance you already have in place. Consider if your needs or objectives have changed since you made the original purchase. For example, was your term policy to insure that your children’s education would be covered or that your house would be paid off should something happen to the main bread winner? If your children are grown and there are only a few payments left on the mortgage, your current policy may not be the right type of protection needed at this stage in your life.

Purchasing insurance to provide some income for a surviving spouse is common, but you may also want to look at a long-term care policy. Without the right kind of insurance, you could be forced to use all of your hard-earned savings, including your retirement savings to pay for care. The cost of such needs continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Long Term Care Insurance policy options have grown as well in the last decade. As opposed to the “use it or lose it” options in years past, many policies now offer a wide array of hybrid products that will allow you and/or your spouse to use what you need and pass any remaining dollars on to your beneficiaries tax-free.

Insuring for the right purpose today could protect the quality of your retirement years. Wouldn’t we all like our retirement dreams to come true?

For more information about Investment Plans, please contact our Wealth Management and Trust Department.

 

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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

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.

8 Money Tips Every College Freshman Should Know

With Labor Day behind us, most colleges are underway with the fall semester. The American Bankers Association encourages college students to get an early start on securing their financial future. Check out these eight tips on how to avoid expenses now and reduce financial burden upon graduation.

  • Create a budget.  You’re an adult now and are responsible for managing your own finances. The first step is to create a realistic budget or plan and stick to it.
  • Watch spending. Keep receipts and track spending in a notebook or a mobile app.  Pace spending and increase saving by cutting unnecessary expenses like eating out or shopping so that your money can last throughout the semester.
  • Use credit wisely. Understand the responsibilities and benefits of credit.  Use it, but don’t abuse it.  How you handle your credit in college could affect you well after graduation.  Shop around for a card that best suits your needs.
  • Lookout for money. There’s a lot of money available for students — you just have to look for it. Apply for scholarships, and look for student discounts or other deals. Many national retailers offer significant discounts for those with a valid student ID.
  • Buy used.  Consider buying used books or ordering them online.  Buying books can become expensive and often used books are in just as good of shape as new ones.  Dedicate some time and research to see what deals you can find.
  • Entertain on a budget. Limit your “hanging out” fund.  There are lots of fun activities to keep you busy in college and many are free for students. Use your meal plan or sample new recipes instead of eating out. If you do go out, take advantage of special offers that occur during the week, like discount movie ticket days or weekly restaurant specials.
  • Expect the unexpected.  Things happen, and it’s important that you are financially prepared when your car or computer breaks down or you have to buy an unexpected ticket home.  You should start putting some money away immediately, no matter how small the amount.
  • Ask. This is a learning experience, so if you need help, ask.  Your parents or your bank are a good place to start, and remember—the sooner the better.

For more tips and resources on a variety of personal finance topics such as mortgages, credit cards, protecting your identity and saving for college, visit aba.com/Consumers.

Budgeting 101

Rainy-day funds, savings for college, or just making your rent payment can all be made easier with a budget. Although a simple and oftentimes overlooked strategy, budgeting your finances will help make the difference in managing your money. Putting together a household budget requires time and effort. Stock Yards offers the following steps to create a budget:

• Be a Spending Sleuth. Track every penny you spend for a month. Keep receipts and write everything down. This will be an eye-opening experience and will help you see where you can cut back.

• Count Your Money. Determine the total amount of money coming in. Include only your take home pay (your salary minus taxes and deductions). Your income may also include tips, investment income, etc.

• Itemize, Categorize, and Organize. Review the records and receipts you’ve been collecting over the last month. Categorize your spending using a budget sheet. You can utilize the free templates in Microsoft Excel to create a budget sheet that is fit for you and your family.

• Achieve Your Goals. Set a realistic financial goal and develop your budget to achieve that goal. Subtract your monthly expenses from your monthly income. Find ways to cut spending and set limits on things like entertainment expenses.

• Save, Save, Save. Make one of your financial goals to save a certain dollar amount each month. Start an emergency fund if you don’t already have one. You never know when you may need it.

• Stick to it. Keep track of your spending every month. Update your budget as expenses or incomes change. Once you achieve your financial goal, set another.

Resource information provided by American Banker’s Association.