Tag Archives: Debt

Remarriage: Altering Your Financial Plan to Meet Your Needs

Untitled-logo trustIn previous generations, husband’s traditionally handled the family finances. While this arrangement may have worked well during the husband’s lifetime, the consequences of the wife’s lack of involvement in the family’s finances often became clear after her spouse died. Today, more women are actively directing the outcome of their personal finances, and for good reason.

Women need to plan for a time when they may be on their own. Through divorce, widowhood, or personal choice, the odds are high that a woman will be independent at some point in her lifetime. Financial planning is essential for women throughout life, but it becomes especially important in the event of remarriage, as financial arrangements may need to be made for ex-spouses and children.

If you are in a second marriage or about to remarry, you may want to consider the following important points about managing your personal finances:

Bank Accounts. Should married couples combine their bank accounts or keep them separate? Or, perhaps combine certain accounts and keep others separate? There is no right or wrong choice—this is a personal decision. An open and honest discussion may reveal whether or not you and your spouse are financially compatible regarding spending habits, saving, investing, debt, etc. If there is a marked difference in the way you both handle money, then separating your finances may be a better plan.

Prior Debt. Will each spouse be responsible for the other’s prior debt, and if so, to what extent? Keeping the indebted spouse’s prior debt separate may help ensure that the other spouse’s property remains out of reach from creditors.

Property Acquired before Remarriage. Owning previously acquired property in your own name can prevent the risk of losing personal property to your spouse’s potential creditors. Also, doing so may have estate tax benefits. Keeping your property in your own name can help to minimize estate taxes while providing an inheritance for children from a previous marriage.

Home Ownership. Many married couples choose to title property jointly as tenants by entirety. When one spouse dies, the home passes to the surviving spouse tax-free. However, there may be estate tax consequences when the surviving spouse dies. Be sure to consult with a qualified tax professional beforehand.

Retirement. Saving for retirement is one of the major financial goals for married couples. Women, in particular, have unique concerns when planning for retirement. First, women typically live longer than men, so their retirement income needs to last longer. In addition, women often spend more time out of the workforce than men as a result of caregiving responsibilities, and therefore are less likely to have pensions and full Social Security benefits. According to the U.S. Department of Labor in 2013, when women work, they typically earn 82 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. Consequently, the gap between gender incomes makes it especially important for women to prepare for retirement.

Insurance. Disability income insurance can help replace a portion of your income in the event you are unable to work due to sustaining an injury or illness. This type of insurance provides funds that can be used for bills and expenses. Similarly, life insurance provides a death benefit that can be used by your family. Proceeds can help ensure that children from a prior or current marriage can attend college, the mortgage can be paid, and the surviving spouse has some replacement income.

Estate Planning. It is important for blended families to plan for the final disposition of assets. Trusts can be a valuable tool to minimize estate taxes and to help ensure that your assets are distributed to heirs according to your wishes. For example, at your death, your assets can pass to a trust, from which your surviving spouse will receive income without direct access to the assets. At the death of the surviving spouse, the assets can then pass to children from your current or previous marriage. This provides ongoing income for your surviving spouse and an inheritance for your children, as well. In addition, if the surviving spouse later remarries, the trust can be designed to preclude your assets from their marital or community property.

Every woman who remarries needs to balance her financial past with her financial future. By addressing the management of your personal finances as soon as possible, you can avoid disputes and build financial independence for your extended and blended families.

If you have questions about the financial implications of divorce, email our Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, Marcia.Henderson@syb.com, for help!

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Financial Considerations for Single Women

Untitled-logo trustIf you’re divorced or separated, money management will become an important part of your life. While it may be true that money can’t buy or ensure happiness, your ability to manage your finances can play a large role in your financial future, and to a large extent, your ability to live life on your terms.

A huge amount of time is not necessarily required to get your finances moving in the right direction. It is often simply a matter of attending to the “basics.” The following steps may help you stay on track:

1. Pay Yourself First. Transfer a set amount from your earnings to your savings each month. Even a small amount in the beginning helps.

2. Reduce Consumer Debt. Avoid high credit card finance charges by paying off the balances each month, or if you must carry a balance, use only cards offering low finance rates beyond the introductory period.

3. Maintain Good Credit. You can obtain one free annual credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Good credit is required for obtaining loans and low interest rates. Monitoring your credit can also help you guard against identity theft.

4. Diversify Your Savings. Develop a plan for your short- and long-term needs. Consider your liquidity needs, risk tolerance, and time horizon for retirement. Be sure to consult a qualified financial professional to determine an appropriate strategy for your financial future.

5. Take Advantage of Tax Benefits. If you qualify, contribute to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan, or another similar retirement plan. These plans offer tax benefits that may help enhance your retirement savings.

6. Update Your Estate Plan. Have your will and any trusts reviewed by a legal professional. Prepare advance directives, such as a durable power of attorney, living will, and health care proxy. This is important for everyone at any time, regardless of age.

7. Review Your Insurance Needs. Periodically review your risk management program. Your life, health, and disability income insurance needs will likely change as you progress through various life stages.

8. Plan for Future Care. Consider your possible long-term care needs. Have you ever thought about your future care needs, should you one day require help with activities of daily living, such as meal preparation, personal care, dressing, and housekeeping? Long-term care insurance increases your care options, should the need arise by helping to cover care at home, an assisted living facility or in a nursing home.

9. Build a College Fund. College tuition, at a public or private institution, continues to rise. So, relying on your children to receive scholarships or financial aid may not be the most practical strategy. Look into opening a 529 college savings plan or other college planning account. As soon as possible, begin saving for your child’s education. Eighteen years can pass quickly.

10. Set Long-Term Financial Goals. Establish one-, three-, five- and10-year goals. Evaluate your progress yearly and make adjustments, as appropriate, to achieve long-term success.

Whether you’re divorced or separated, straightening out your finances can become a top priority. Make a commitment now to start this planning process. Attention to the basics may help you meet your financial goals and improve your emotional and financial well-being.

Visit https://www.syb.com/wealth-management-and-trust/how-we-serve-our-clients/ to see how Stock Yards Bank and Trust can help you.

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Resource information provided by Financial Media Exchange

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4 TIPS TO GET FINANCIALLY FIT

The New Year is an ideal time to set new goals, as many vow to become more physically fit or get organized.  The New Year is also a great time to assess your finances, gain control and stick to a new budget or saving plan. Taking control of your personal finances will allow you to save and prepare for unexpected expenses.

Get financially fit this January.  Follow the tips below to get started.

Get Organized Consider treating yourself to a post-holiday gift of a financial organization system.  Alphabetized file folders, or filing systems specifically for financial organization are available in January as people begin to prepare for tax season.  Take advantage and start the New Year with an organizational system.  While you’re getting organized, consider buying a shredder to keep your personal information safe from identity theft.

Create a Budget Track your income and expenses to see how much money you have coming in and how much you spend.  If you have debt, establishing a budget will help you to pay down your debt while saving. Use computer software programs or basic budgeting worksheets to help create your budget.  Include as much information as you can and review your budget regularly.  Print several copies of this budgeting worksheet to help you get started.

  • Identify how you spend your money.
  • Set realistic goals, especially if you plan to cut some of your expenses.
  • Track your spending and review your budget often.
  • Points to consider when cutting debt:

Lower Your Debt Debt from student loans, mortgages and credit cards is nearly unavoidable.  Most families carry about $10,000 in credit card debt.  Spending more money than you bring in can lead to financial stress.  Establish a budget to pay down debts while you save.

  • Pay more than the minimum due and pay on time.
  • Pay off debt with higher interest rates first.
  • Transfer high rate debt to credit cards with a lower interest rate.
  • Use credit cards and loans for purchases that will appreciate in value like a home.

Save for the Unexpected and Beyond Pay yourself first.  Saving is important; it ensures a comfortable future that can endure financial surprises.  No matter how old you are, it’s never too late to begin saving.

  • Save at least 10 percent of your income for retirement.  Enroll in a retirement plan or consider optimizing an established retirement plan.  Contribute at least the maximum amount that your employer will match.  Contributions made to these types of plans are tax deductible.  If your employer does not offer a retirement savings plan, many banks offer Individual Retirement Accounts.  IRAs offer tax-deferred growth, meaning you pay taxes on your investment gains when you make withdrawals.
  • Financial advisors often recommend keeping about three months’ salary in a savings account in case of financial emergencies like hospital bills or loss of job.
  • Increase your contribution as your income increases.
  • If you receive direct deposit at work, ask your employer to send a specific amount to your savings account.  Because the money is put into an account before you have a chance to spend it, automatic savings plans are an easy and convenient way to save.  If your employer doesn’t offer direct deposit, many banks allow for automatic transfers from checking to savings accounts.

Resource information provided by the American Bankers Association

5 Important Questions When Choosing Your First Home

Moving into your own place can be exciting and frightening at the same time. Stock Yards Bank & Trust suggests considering the following questions when choosing your own home.

1. How much money do you have saved up?

Start with an evaluation of your financial health. Figure out how much money you have for a down payment or deposit on a rental. Down payments are typically 5 to 20 percent of the price of the home. Security deposits on rentals are usually about one month of rent and more if you have a pet. But be sure to keep enough in savings for an emergency fund. It’s a good idea to have three to six months of living expenses to cover unexpected costs.

2. How much debt do you have?

Consider all of your current and expected financial obligations like your car payment and insurance, credit card debt and student loans. Make sure you will be able to make all the payments in addition to the cost of your new home. Aim to keep total rent or mortgage payments plus utilities to less than 25 to 30 percent of your gross monthly income. Recent regulatory changes limit debt to income (DTI) ratio on most loans to 43 percent.

 3. What is your credit score?

A high credit score indicates strong creditworthiness. Both renters and homebuyers can expect to have their credit history examined. A low credit score can keep you from qualifying for the rental you want or a low interest rate on your mortgage loan. If your credit score is low, you may want to delay moving into a new home and take steps to raise your score. For tips on improving your credit score, visit aba.com/consumers.

4. Have you factored in all the costs? Create a hypothetical budget for your new home.

Find the average cost of utilities in your area, factor in gas, electricity, water and cable. Find out if you will have to pay for parking or trash pickup. Consider the cost of yard maintenance and other basic maintenance costs like replacing the air filter every three months. If you are planning to buy a home, factor in real estate taxes, mortgage insurance and possibly a home owner association fee. Renters should consider the cost of rental insurance.

 5. How long will you stay?

Generally, the longer you plan to live someplace, the more it makes sense to buy. Over time, you can build equity in your home. On the other hand, renters have greater flexibility to move and fewer maintenance costs. Carefully consider your current life and work situation and think about how long you want to stay in your new home.

Stock Yards Bank & Trust offers a wide variety of mortgage services for new and repeat home buyers. Visit our website for more information or contact us at (502) 582-2571. 

 

Resource Information Provided by the American Bankers Association

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

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.