Category Archives: Money Management

The Importance of Financial Planning at Any Age

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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.

7 Financial Tips for Military Families

November is Military Family Month, and we are especially reminded of the many sacrifices service members and their families make to protect our nation. Stock Yards Bank & Trust has highlighted seven financial tips to help make the lives of military families a little easier.

  • Contribute to a Thrift Savings Plan. Military members have access to the Federal Thrift Savings Program, which offers the lowest-cost retirement-savings plan available. Have automatic contributions withdrawn from your paycheck.
  • Plan for deployment. Before deploying, have a conversation with your family about managing the household budget. Check with your bank to see if they have pre-printed forms you can use for bank accounts. Military personnel also receive additional funds while deployed. Decide on the best use for that extra cash, whether it be paying off debt or additional Thrift Savings Plan contributions.
  • Meet with your banker before active duty. The Service member Civil Relief Act offers all military personnel entering active duty a variety of financial protections. The SCRA covers issues ranging from interest rate reductions to limits on debt accrual. Ask your banker about the key provisions of this law and how they can help you.
  • Consider housing options. With mortgage rates at notably low levels, home ownership can seem like a no-brainer. However, service members should consider their options. Frequent relocations and deployments can make owning a home challenging and expensive. Renting may be a smart option for short-term assignments. Decide what’s best for your family and your finances.
  • Consult a financial advisor. Schedule a visit at a Personal Financial Management Program (PFMP) office, located in your military and family support centers. They offer free one-on-one counseling, as well as other financial education resources.
  • Budget for a single-income household. Frequent moves are an inevitable part of military life and can make it difficult for spouses to establish stable careers. As a precaution, make plans to operate on a single-income household budget. That way, should your spouse’s employment status change; your family will be prepared.
  • Set up automatic bill pay. Whether you’re stationed state-side or overseas, automatic bill pay will give you and your family one less thing to worry about each month. It can be particularly helpful during deployments in regions where internet access is unreliable and mobile banking isn’t an option.

Resource information provided by the American Bankers Association

3 Fall Activities That Won’t Break The Bank

With the first day of fall officially behind us, it’s time to start taking advantage of all the things offered during this season. As the leaves begin to change, take some time to get outside and appreciate the cooler temperatures and scenery. We’ve listed a few fall favorites that won’t put a dent in your bank account.

  • Take an extended bike ride. Autumn is the perfect season to enjoy the cooler weather with a bike ride. Get the whole family together and take in some of fall’s beautiful landscapes through your local park. Bring along a picnic and enjoy the sights and sounds. Leave the car at home and bike to your favorite farmer’s market. To get some ideas on where to go, check out this article on family friendly bike paths in Louisville.
  • Visit a pumpkin patch. A fall tradition, visiting your local pumpkin patch is a must do for you and your family. Spend one day picking out pumpkins to decorate your home or carve later in the season. Make sure to pick a few extra pumpkins to try out these great recipes for fall.
  • Get crafty. Even if you don’t consider yourself the “crafty” type, take some time this season to take part in some easy and inexpensive crafts. It’s a great activity to do as a family, and you can create a number of things such as decorations for your home and homemade Halloween costumes. This article includes great crafts to get you ready for fall.

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.