How to Encourage Kids to Save

If you have kids, chances are that they spend any money that is given to them without a thought for saving towards their future. However, the earlier good savings habits are taught to them, the better their futures will be with regards to finances. Below are some tips to help encourage your kids to save a portion of any money they receive.

 

Teach them to Set Goals

These days, there are costly items and tech gadgets that most kids would love to own. If this is the case, this could provide you with the ideal opportunity to get your children interested in saving some of their money. 

For instance, if your child is keen to get the latest phone or gaming console, you can sit down with them and calculate how much money they will need to save and how long it will take them to obtain the desired amount of cash. 

 

Offer Incentives for Achieving Savings Goals

Although many parents may view this as a form of bribery, providing incentives is one of the easiest ways to encourage kids to save more of their money. An example would be to offer your child a monetary reward that can be put towards what they are already saving. If you cannot afford to match dollar for dollar, you can provide them with an amount that will not destroy your budget in the process. 

 

Establish an Allowance System

When kids don’t receive money regularly, they aren’t provided with much of an opportunity to save anything. As such, it’s a good idea to implement an allowance system in your home that suits your budget and is age-appropriate for your kids. 

When introducing your allowance system, it’s essential to reinforce the fact that your child will need to earn his or her money. This can be done by providing them with various chores to complete that are over and above those that they usually do. 

 

Help them Open a Savings Account

Although it’s possible to open a savings account for kids of all ages, those who are eight years and older will probably benefit the most from them. 

It’s a good idea to have your child accompany you to the bank when their account is being opened. This will not only allow them to see how the process works; you may find that they’ll be more enthusiastic than ever to put some of their earnings into their very own savings account. Some banks offer a range of incentives for kids who save beyond a specified amount of money as well. 

Children who are taught the importance of saving money from a young age tend to be more financially responsible after becoming adults. This is why it’s crucial to teach them about the benefits of saving money as early as possible in life. If you would like to obtain advice regarding teaching your children to save a portion of the money they receive, contact our team today. 

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Keeping a Good Credit Score during Retirement

Keeping a good credit score requires a lot of effort and commitment, especially as your time to retire draws closer. While it may not be wise to make large purchases after retiring, keeping a good credit score will ensure that you’ll still qualify to use your accounts if the need arises. Below are a few tips that will help you keep your credit score as high as possible throughout retirement.

 

Use or Risk Losing Old Accounts

It’s not enough to simply keep old accounts open; they need to be used from time to time to prevent the creditor from closing them without warning. If you’re fortunate enough to be debt-free, it’s even more important for you to use your older accounts every so often – otherwise credit bureaus will not have any information to base your credit score on. Several older folk have been taken by surprise after being denied loans because they had been debt-free for a number of years. 

It’s not necessary to incur large amounts of debt to ensure that your credit score remains active. Even making a single, smaller purchase occasionally and paying for it the following month will normally work well.

 

Don’t Close Accounts you’ve had for Many Years

Several individuals don’t know that keeping a good credit score on an account over many years will have a positive impact on their credit ratings. 

If you’re going to retire soon, you might have various accounts that you opened many years ago that you’re tempted to close off. However, closing all of these will unfortunately have a negative effect on your credit history. 

Another way in which your credit rating can be affected is if you decrease the amount of credit that is available for you to use. Quite a large part of an individual’s credit score depends on the amount of credit that has been granted to them versus the amount of credit that they are using. As such, reducing your amount of available credit can have a negative effect on your overall score. 

 

Don’t Co-sign for any Loans

If you have children that have left home, it can be tempting to lend a helping hand by co-signing on a student loan or car note for them. However, this is not recommended because it will significantly increase the amount of debt that is reflecting on your credit history. Although this might not always have an effect on your credit rating, it could affect your ability to qualify for a loan if your debt-credit ratio is overly high.

 

Take your Debt into Consideration before Retiring

Another aspect that affects your credit score is your ability to repay debt installments on time each month. This could be problematic if you’re going to be living on less income after you retire or if you experience unexpected medical bills that eliminate your savings. It’s normally recommended that you eliminate as much consumer debt as possible before retiring. 

After retiring, unexpected expenses can arise that will require you to apply for a loan. Protecting your credit score now will help ensure that you’ll be prepared to do so with ease in the future.

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Being Smart with your Savings and Retirement Funds during this Difficult Time

At present, large parts of the world are on lockdown status due to the rapid spread of Coronavirus. While it may be little more than an inconvenience for some individuals in that they cannot leave their homes as often as they like at the moment, for others, it spells financial disaster because of the fact that a number of them are unable to go to work to earn a living. 

As such, it has become more crucial now than ever before to ensure that you work as wisely as possible with any money you may have available to you at the moment. Below are a few ways in which you can stretch each dollar as much as possible.

 

Consider Filing for Unemployment

Although the rules to qualify for receiving unemployment benefits tend to vary from one state to another, many have become somewhat more lenient with regards to providing financial assistance to families where breadwinners have been laid off or had their hours cut substantially as a result of Coronavirus. 

In many cases, applications to file for unemployment can now be completed online, which can save a lot of time and effort. 

 

Avoid Dipping into Retirement Accounts

When times get tough, many individuals turn to their retirement accounts as a convenient way of borrowing money. However, this is not recommended because you will be penalized in two ways. Firstly, you will lose out on any interest that would have accumulated on the amount of money you’ve borrowed, and secondly, you will highly likely be taxed on the amount of money that has been borrowed from a retirement fund as well. 

In fact, many financial experts only recommend dipping into your retirement funds if you are facing immediate foreclosure on your primary residence. 

 

Only Purchase Essentials

When funds are as tight as they are because of shortened working hours or layoffs, it’s not the time to consider purchasing a new flat screen TV or another pair of fashion shoes. Instead, restrict all purchases at this time to genuine essential items such as food, rent or mortgage, transport and utility bills.

In situations where you’ve been granted a reprieve for paying any of the above-mentioned bills, keep in mind that once the lockdown period has ended, all outstanding amounts may become due with immediate effect. As such, it’s strongly recommended that you continue paying as much as you possibly can on rent, mortgage, utilities and car notes. 

With regards to groceries, you can save up to 30% on your bill if you’re willing to opt for store brand items, plan weekly meals around sale items and reduce the amount of non-essentials that you put in your cart such as crisps, soda and other luxury items. 

Although the next few months may be extremely tight financially for several families, keeping the above-mentioned tips in mind can go a long way to help get the most out of every dollar wherever possible. 

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Various Stages of Retirement to Consider

While you’re formally employed, there would have been various steps of the career ladder that you navigated along the way. Your retirement years will work in much the say way, with various stages to take into consideration. Below is a simple breakdown of what you could expect to encounter during each of them with regards to finances.

 

Stage One – the Beginning of Retirement

Otherwise known as the honeymoon phase, this is when a lot of retirees tend to be the most active. The initial excitement of now being able to engage in activities that they couldn’t partake in before due to time constraints is experienced during this time. In addition, younger retirees are usually in better health, meaning that they will want to do as much as possible during this time. 

As a result of being more active during these first few years, you could find yourself spending more money – especially if you’re traveling more than you did before. However, it’s crucial that your retirement funds be carefully managed during this time. Failure to do so could result in you struggling to make ends meet later on.

 

Stage Two – Slowing Down

This stage starts taking place approximately ten years after you’ve retired, and you find that you’ve grown tired of traveling and any other leisure-related activities that you were enjoying at first. You may find that you’re also ‘starting to feel your age’ at this point, causing you to slow down a bit. 

Age-related health conditions may also start making their appearance during this time, resulting in you having to spend a bit more money on medication and other required treatments. During this time, you could notice an increase of between 3% and 5% on your cost of living each year. 

 

Stage Three – Nearing the End of your Life

This stage of retirement takes place when you’re reaching the end of your life. Although it’s difficult to determine exactly when this stage will arrive, it normally tends to be when individuals become frail and more inactive. During this stage, you might find that you’re no longer interested in activities that you once enjoyed and you may even find yourself staying home a lot more than before.

During this final stage of your retirement years, you will most likely also see a decrease in your regular monthly expenses. However, increasing healthcare expenses or even the cost of relocating into an assisted living facility could cause your living expenses to skyrocket. As a result, you can expect an average cost of living increase of as much as 5% per year if you intend keeping up with your current lifestyle. 

It’s important to keep in mind that the information above is merely a basic guideline because no one ever knows how your living conditions or circumstances could change after retiring. As such, now is the right time to start putting a retirement plan into place. If you would like to learn more about compiling an effective financial plan for retirement, speak to our team today. 

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How much does that Second Job really Pay?

Many families are finding it more and more difficult to make ends meet each day, which has resulted in a number of individuals taking on second (or even third) jobs to ensure that they can keep meeting their monthly obligations. While it can seem like a good idea to have more than one job at a time, there are some aspects to consider beforehand.

 

Increased Mental and Physical Fatigue

Taking on a second job could result in you wearing yourself down mentally, emotionally and physically – far quicker than if you were only working at one job. While it may sometimes be possible to overcome these feelings after a while, it’s essential to evaluate your position every few months to determine whether the additional fatigue is worth what you’re being paid at the second job or not. 

 

Less Focus on your Main JobMain

Another issues you may encounter when taking on a second job is that you won’t be able to give as much focus to your main job as you did before. Over time, this could become problematic, especially if the lack of focus prevents you from being able to perform, as you should.

 

Less Family Time

When taking on a second job, it not only means that you’ll be spending more hours working; you will unfortunately also be spending less valuable time with your family. While this may not seem important initially, young children can often become upset when they aren’t able to spend as much time with a parent as they did previously. 

 

Take Additional Expenses into Consideration

Many individuals only see the initial amount of money they’ll be earning after taking on a second job. However, it’s essential to take additional expenses that will be incurred into consideration. 

For instance, your gas bill will more than likely increase as a result of driving to and from your second job. You may be required to purchase uniform or other items that can only be used while working or even cover the cost of additional meals out while on the job. 

Another expense that many parents forget to take into consideration when looking at taking on an additional job is that of childcare – especially if the second position is going to require night shift hours. Many sitters will charge higher than average rates for taking care of children during evening hours. 

Before agreeing to take on that additional job, it’s essential to calculate how much of your extra earnings will be going towards job-related expenses. If you’re only going to be netting a dollar or two per hour after deductions, it will probably not be worth your while to take the position.

Another point to consider before taking on additional employment is taxes on the earnings from it. As such, it may be a good idea to chat to a professional financial advisor beforehand. They may be able to help you trim your existing budget in such a way that you won’t need to take on additional employment in order to make ends meet. 

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Why a Budget is Essential for Financial Success

While virtually everyone wants to accumulate as much wealth as possible, few are actually doing anything to achieve their goals and dreams in this regard. However, the fact remains that the only way to become truly successful with your finances is to compile a realistic budget and stick to it as religiously as possible.

 

Enjoy a More Fulfilled Retirement

While you may already be a responsible spender who follows a strict budget, this may not be enough on its own to ensure a retirement that you’ll be able to enjoy. Saving a portion of everything you earn is a crucial step for ensuring a decent retirement. 

Compiling a budget can help you see how much money you have left over after monthly expenses such as rent or mortgage, groceries, transport and other essentials have been paid for. If you’re overspending, you’ll either have to cut back somewhere or find a better paying position so that you can start contributing to various retirement accounts. Having enough funds saved for retirement will make all the difference between being able to enjoy your golden years or having to work one or more jobs just to pay the rent and put food on the table.

 

It Prepare for the Unexpected

No one ever knows when or if any type of emergency situation will occur, such as a vehicle breakdown, a burst water heater or a damaged sewer line that floods your property. In most cases, instances like these will happen at the worst possible time – which is why it’s crucial that you prepare for them as much as possible beforehand.

Your budget should include an emergency fund that amounts to between three and six months’ living expenses. This will help ensure that you don’t incur any debt if a financial crisis occurs. The easiest way to build your emergency fund is to set aside an amount from each paycheck you receive in a dedicated account. 

 

It can Reveal Bad Spending Patterns

Compiling a budget will not only enable you to see where your money goes; it will help reveal whether you’re overspending on any item in particular. For example, are you spending a few hundred dollars a month on takeout? Do you ever watch all 150 channels that are aired by your cable provider?

Seeing everything on paper will help you re-evaluate where you could be overspending. Once financial drains have been identified and stopped, those funds can then be allocated towards retirement saving or towards building a decently sized emergency fund. 

While many individuals prefer to use a good old-fashioned pen and paper for compiling their budgets, various apps and budgeting software programs are now available than can assist with this process as well. If you would like to start managing your finances in a more responsible manner but you’re unsure of how or where to get started, speak to one of our team members today. We look forward to assisting you in any way possible. 

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Avoid Making these Retirement Mistakes

Retirement is something that many people look forward to while they’re still working. As such, it’s important to ensure that you have planned correctly along the way for this time in your life. Below are a few mistakes you should do everything possible to avoid making.

1.  Filing for Social Security benefits at the Right Time

 

Many retirees will rely almost entirely on Social Security benefits to make up the bulk of their income once they’re no longer working. This means that you’ll have to ensure that you’ll be able to obtain the maximum allowable benefits possible from this source. 

One of the best ways to ensure that you can obtain as large a payout as possible from Social Security is to only file after you have reached full retirement age (FRA) and not as soon as you’re eligible to apply. Keep in mind that some other aspects such as spousal and disability benefits can also play a role in the amount of Social Security income you eventually receive.

 

2.  Continuing to Accumulate Wealth after Retiring

Very few retirees will have sufficient liquid assets or cash savings to last them through their golden years. As such, many of them will have to continue generating some form of income after officially retiring. This could mean continuing to work part-time for some individuals, while others may be able to rely on CDs, stocks and bonds to keep afloat financially.

While you may not need to generate as much income as you did prior to retirement, it’s strongly recommended that you generate enough to cover basic living expenses such as groceries, gas and entertainment costs. 

 

3.  Not Correctly Strategizing 401(k) or IRA Withdrawals

Although several individuals work extremely hard and save a good amount of money towards their retirement, too many of them still see large chunks of it disappearing because of tax penalties that are charged when they withdraw their money. 

If you want to avoid being penalized (and who doesn’t, especially after working so hard to save that money in the first place?), it’s crucial to establish a withdrawal system that will minimize tax penalties as much as possible. This can be done by taking your Require Minimum Distributions (RMDs) into consideration. It’s also essential to confirm that your existing withdrawal strategy takes life changes into account, such as potentially increased healthcare expenses or a reduction in income after you’re no longer employed full time. 

 

4.  Not Curbing Living Expenses – Even after Downsizing

The main goal of downsizing is to help keep your monthly expenses as low as possible after retiring. However, several retirees find themselves paying higher transportation, tax, food and utility related costs because they fail to take the cost of living in their new location into consideration. 

It’s crucial to take all of these expenses into account before relocating – especially if you’re moving out of state. This will prevent you from having to relocate again at a later stage just that you can remain afloat financially. 

 

Every retiree’s personal and financial circumstances will be unique. If you would like to chat with a professional about restructuring your financial plans, contact us today. 

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Why it’s Essential to Set Financial Goals

If you want to be financially successful, it’s essential for you to set money-related goals at the beginning of your journey. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be able to chart your progress along the way and see whether any adjustments may be needed along the way. 

 

Goals Enable you to Set Up a Realistic Financial Plan

Determining what your financial goals are will give you the opportunity to compile a realistic plan to help achieve it. Simply receiving your paycheck and paying recurring bills without realizing where all of your money is going will not allow you to make the most of your finances over time. For instance, if you would like to retire with a balance of $1 million, you’ll need to know how much will have to be saved and/or invested each month and how long you still have to get to that amount.

 

You’ll be Able to Track your Progress

Being able to track your progress will not only allow you to see if you’ll be able to realistically achieve your financial goals; if one of your goals is to eliminate all of your consumer debt within a specified timeframe, seeing the amount of money owing shrink each month will be an excellent motivator over time as well. 

 

Goals Help Keep you Focused

Another reason why it’s essential to set financial goals is that they help keep you focused. In other words, it will make it easier for you to ‘keep your mind on the prize’ so to speak. 

Regardless of whether you’re saving to buy a car, house or even an overseas vacation, it’s a good idea to take pictures of the items you’re saving for and place them in a spot where they can be seen regularly. This has been proven to be one of the best motivators around that will help prevent you from overspending on impulse purchases.

 

Enjoy a Sense of Achievement

Although it may seem like it’s taking forever to achieve some of your larger financial goals, there’s little else that feels as good as that sense of achievement you experience once one has been reached. 

Once you’ve achieved your first financial goal, you’ll be even keener to see how quickly you can reach any others you’ve set. Consider giving yourself a small reward for each goal you achieve – maybe treat yourself to a coffee that you don’t usually purchase, for instance. 

 

Enjoy Peace of Mind

Once you start achieving your financial goals, you’ll be rewarded in another way that you may not even realize initially – being able to enjoy peace of mind in knowing that your financial future will be more secure than it was before. 

If you’re unsure of how to go about setting realistic financial goals, you may need to enlist the help of an experienced financial adviser. They will be able to let you know whether you’ll need to reduce current expenses or increase your income in order to achieve your financial goals. Contact our team today to learn more about planning ahead for a financially secure future. 

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When does it make Financial Sense to Dig into your 401(k)?

Your 401(k) allows you to set aside a predetermined amount of money each month that can then be used to live on after you’ve retired. Although you do have the option to dig into these funds before you reach retirement age, it’s usually not recommended that you do this. However, there may be one instance where it would make sense for you to do this. 

 

When it’s Possible to Repay it Quickly

In most cases, the only time you should ever consider accessing the funds in your 401(k) account early is if you’re in a very tight financial situation and you know that it will be able to be repaid within a few months at the most. 

While you will still lose out on potential interest that could be earned on the amount you’ve withdrawn, you won’t be jeopardizing your final payout amount as much as if you took longer than a few months to repay your loan. For instance, if you’re faced with sudden unexpected medical expenses that you don’t have the money to pay for or your home is in danger of being foreclosed upon, but you’re assured of obtaining additional funds within the next month or two that will cover the full cost of the loan you’ve taken out, it may be a good idea to borrow against your 401(k).

 

A Serious Disadvantage

While you may plan to rely extensively on social security payouts each month after retiring, more and more information is being revealed stating that these amounts will not be nearly enough for seniors to live on – especially if they suffer from serious health conditions or you live in a high cost of living area. 

If you borrow funds from your 401(k), you lose out more than once. The first time is when you miss out on the potential interest you could have earned on that loan amount and the second will be because the amount of money you’ll have left to live on after retiring will be reduced quite substantially. 

 

Start Preparing for Retirement Now

If you’re still in your 20s, you may think that there is still a lot of time left to start planning for your retirement. However, this is not the case. The sooner you start making contributions to your 401(k) in your 20s, you’ll be able to contribute smaller amounts each month than if you wait to start making payments once you reach your 30s. Over time, this could amount to a difference of $100,000 or more that you’ll have to live on during your retirement years. 

Many employers still offer to match employees’ 401(k) contributions up to predetermined amounts or percentages, which is why it makes even more sense to start contributing to this account as soon as possible. If you are seeking further financial advice regarding how to prepare for retirement, get in touch with our team today. We look forward to working with you and helping you plan for your future. 

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Dealing with Unexpected Medical Costs during Retirement

While you should be able to relax and enjoy your retirement years as much as possible, a possibility always exists that could result in you having to cover the cost of large and unexpected medical bills. If you’re unfortunate enough to land in this financial position, there are some steps you can take to try and reduce the effect that it will have on your retirement funds as much as possible. 

 

Never Rely Entirely on Medicare

Several older individuals are under the impression that Medicare will be able to handle all of their health-related costs after they reach the age of 65. However, this doesn’t always work according to plan, which is why it’s important to think about purchasing a Medigap policy from a private insurer and/or a Part D prescription medicine plan. 

Keep in mind that it will only be possible to purchase Medigap cover if you already have Medicare Part A (hospital services) and Medicare Part B (standard doctor services) sorted out. This alone will help you cover as many potential medical emergencies as possible that could occur after you’ve retired. 

 

Find out if there are any Alternative Options

If you’ve had the same prescription for more than a few years, you may have just been having it refilled – often without thinking about the out of pocket costs it incurs. However, once you’re no longer working, you’ll need to do everything you can to keep your out of pocket medical expenses as affordable as possible. One of the easiest ways to do this is to inquire about the possibility of generic medications

Using generic medications can help reduce your monthly prescription expenses by as much as 75%. Another way that you could reduce these costs is by changing to preferred healthcare providers or asking whether any prescription discount cards are available for your medicines. 

 

Find out about Potential Assistance Programs

When it comes to being able to obtain your prescription medicines at affordable prices each month during retirement, you should never be too shy or afraid to inquire about the possibility of there being any assistance available that could help shoulder the cost. 

Several organizations are available that can provide you with assistance if you’re struggling to cover the cost of your medications. For instance, if you require new prescription glasses, associations such as the Rotarians will often be able to assist you – along with providing an eye exam. The AARP will also be able to provide you with a host of information in this regard as well.

When it comes to keeping your medical expenses as low as possible during your golden years, the saying, “prevention is better than cure,” certainly applies. As such, you should do your part as much as possible by remaining active and consuming a healthy diet. This will help ensure that you’re able to make the most of these precious years without having to worry about trying to cover a multitude of health-related expenses. 

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