Tag Archives: Financial Planning

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 You can set it so that money is withdrawn from your checking account on the same day each month.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 

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.

6 Money Tips for Family Caregivers

According to the Caregiver Action Network, more than 90 million Americans care for a loved one living with a disability, disease or experiencing reduced financial capability as a result of aging. Financial caregivers, such as those with a power of attorney, trustee or a federal benefits fiduciary, play an important role in ensuring that all finances – from routine to complex – are managed wisely, helping their loved ones maintain the best quality of life possible. In recognition of National Family Caregiver Month, Stock Yards is helping financial caregivers better understand their role.

  • Learn the rights and restrictions that apply to your role. Financial caregivers, such as those with a power of attorney, trustees, and federal benefits fiduciaries, are fiduciaries with a duty to act and make decisions on their loved one’s behalf. Learn the legal responsibilities of your assigned authority in order to better execute your role.
  • Manage money and other assets wisely. Financial caregivers may be in charge of daily, unexpected and future expense their loved one may incur. Especially if the beneficiary has a fixed income or limited finances, it is extremely important that caregivers minimize unnecessary costs and budget accordingly to ensure that all money is properly allocated.
  • Recognize danger signs. Seniors have become major targets for financial abuse and fraud. Make sure to stay alert to signs of scams or identity theft that may put your loved one’s assets in peril.
  • Keep careful records. When acting as a financial agent, proper documentation is not only encouraged but required. Make sure you keep well-organized financial records, including up-to date lists of assets and debts and a streamline of all financial transactions.
  • Stay informed. Monitor changes in financial status of the beneficiary and take appropriate action, as needed. Also, be sure to stay up to date on changes in the laws affecting seniors.
  • Seek professional advice. Consult a banker or other professional advisors when you’re not sure what to do.

Stock Yards Bank is also providing an explanation of the various roles and responsibilities of three types of financial caregivers: power of attorney, trustee and federal fiduciary.

Understanding your role as a power of attorney.

POA is designated by your loved one and gives you the authority to act and make decisions on their behalf, including managing and having access to their bank and other financial accounts. Authority continues if loved one becomes incapacitated and ends when power is revoked or loved one dies.

Understanding your role as a trustee.
Authority is given once you are named as trustee or co-trustee of a revocable living trust. As a trustee your authority applies only to the property noted in the trust, authorizing you to protect, manage and distribute the trust’s assets as directed in the trust document. Authority continues after the death of the trust creator or grantor.

Understanding your role as a federal benefits fiduciary.
A federal benefits fiduciary is appointed to accept and delegate federal government benefit payments, such as Social Security and Veterans Affairs benefits, in the beneficiary’s best interest. Funds for the beneficiary are received through an account set up solely for this purpose. As a representative payee for Social Security benefits or a VA fiduciary for VA benefits, you are required to keep detailed records of all transactions related to the beneficiary and file annual reports detailing how benefits were used.

The Caregiver Action Network (the National Family Caregivers Association) began promoting national recognition of family caregivers in 1994. President Clinton signed the first NFC Month Presidential Proclamation in 1997 and every president since has followed suit by issuing an annual proclamation recognizing and honoring family caregivers each November.

To learn more information about National Family Caregiver Month and your role as a financial caregiver, visit www.caregiveraction.org. For tips and additional resources, visit aba.com/seniors.

Resource Information Provided by the American Bankers Association

6 Money Mistakes Newlyweds Should Avoid

With wedding season upon us, many newlyweds will soon be managing their finances as a pair. The American Bankers Association is encouraging couples to waste no time addressing how they will handle money issues as spouses and financial partners.

“Developing a financial plan can often take a backseat to the excitement of a wedding,” said ABA president and CEO. “But it’s important to remember that this is not only a marriage of hearts but also a marriage of finances.”

To help couples start their journey on strong financial footing, ABA warns consumers of these post-wedding money mistakes:

  1. Avoiding the money talk. Discussing your finances can be a bit uncomfortable for many couples, but those who tackle it head on will be better for it. Understand your partner’s financial goals and spending habits. While you may have different answers, this conversation can help you develop an approach to money management that works for both of you.
  2. Not setting a budget. A mistake many couples make is not establishing a budget early on. After assessing your finances as a pair, determine how you’ll spend your money each month. Are there certain expenses that you should be cutting back on and others you should be saving up for? Coming to an agreement on these things and setting a budget will be beneficial for the health of your bank accounts and your relationship.
  3. Not having a plan for your accounts. There is no ‘right’ way to manage your accounts. Couples can choose to have exclusively joint accounts, a joint account as well as separate accounts for saving or personal spending, or keep things entirely divided. Discuss your preferences together and decide what makes you both the most comfortable.
  4. Failing to set up an emergency fund. Life is full of surprises and unfortunately, some of these surprises can be expensive. Having an emergency fund will help you avoid precarious financial situations should something come up. It’s important that you decide together how you’ll set aside the money.
  5. Not establishing a minimum cost for discussing big expenses. While not all purchases demand a conversation, more expensive ones that impact the family budget should. Determine what that threshold is as a couple. For any expenses above that cost, you both should be in agreement on whether it’s a necessary purchase.
  6. Forgetting to update your beneficiaries. Now that you’ve officially tied the knot, you should likely identify your spouse as the person who will receive the benefits of your will, life insurance policy and financial accounts like your 401(k), checking and savings. Don’t make the mistake of waiting for an emergency to arise to handle this.

    Resource Information Provided by the American Bankers Association