Tidying Up Your Finances

You’ve probably seen or at least heard about the show “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” which aims to help people clear the clutter from their homes.

Marie asks participants to assess each item and determine whether it “sparks joy” for them anymore. If it doesn’t, it goes to a charity shop or to the trash. By clearing the clutter in one’s life, Marie says it not only creates a better home environment, but it has beneficial effects on one’s mood, thought processes, and abilities.

The same exercise can be applied to your finances. Is your spending out of control? Do you have little to no idea how much you spend on food, clothes, or entertainment per year? Do you hate looking at your account balance because you’re afraid of what you’ll see? Then you may want to tidy up your finances. Here are a few ways to help you get started:

• Create a budget. Start by adding up all the monthly expenses you MUST pay for – rent/mortgage, utilities, gas/transportation, groceries, credit card bills, out-of-pocket health expenses, insurance. Deduct that from your monthly take-home pay. What’s left is what you can either save or spend on non-essentials. Nerdwallet has an online budget sheet https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/finance/budget-worksheet/  you can use to make these calculations. There are also many free apps, like Everydollar.com and Mint.com, to help you stay on budget.

• Get rid of credit cards with high interest rates. Their huge interest charges make them harder to pay off. For instance, say you bought a coat for $400 (on sale!) on a credit card with 16.99% interest. If you only pay $25 each month, that coat will end up costing you $456 because of the interest. The more expenses you put on that card, the higher your interest charges will go. Apply for credit cards with low interest and transfer the balances on these high-interest cards to the low-interest cards. Pay more than the minimum or the entire amount whenever possible.

• Control impulsive shopping. Yes, that new [fill in your latest obsession] may “spark joy” at this moment, but is it really worth the financial stress it may create? Postpone the purchase for 24 hours and see if you still must have it.

• Save for big-ticket items. Instead of using credit cards for expensive items, plan ahead and save for them. Getting into a savings habit will help you live within your means and avoid the stress of deepening debt.

Copyright 2019 Credit Union National Association Inc. Information subject to change without notice. For use with members of a single credit union. All other rights reserved.

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Happy Camping: Scout How Your Kids Will Spend Their Summer

After more than nine highly structured months with kids in school, summer can seem long and unwieldy. Camp is the answer for many parents.

Traditional sleep-away camps can give urban children a chance to relax and play in idyllic environments. Specialty camps can hone skills in sports, music, drama, religion, or other activities. Others just offer a variety of experiences day to day to allow kids to follow and cultivate their curiosity and imagination.

Here’s how to find the right camp for your child and ensure that he or she will have the best possible experience:
* Visit campparents.org. The American Camp Association’s parent-focused site offers a find-a-camp search tool, allowing parents to narrow choices by cost, camper age, location, length of stay, activities, and more. All of the camps in the database are accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA), Martinsville, Ind., which ensures that they meet minimum standards for health, safety, and program quality.

* Call camp directors. “As a parent, be prepared to articulate what you hope your children will gain from the camp experience,” says Dayna Hardin, owner of Lake of the Woods camp for girls and Greenwoods camp for boys in Decatur, Mich. “When we as camp directors know what parent expectations are, we do a good job of meeting or exceeding them.”

* Don’t offer to rescue. Hardin discourages parents from having some kind of pick-up deal. “Kids are going to feel a little homesick,” she says. “They’re supposed to miss their families, not forget about them. But one of the things about camp is that kids learn coping skills.”

* Visit if you can. Hardin notes that many camps—both overnight and day—welcome parents for visits while camp is in session. It requires planning; parents would have to tour camp the year before they want to enroll their children, but nothing beats that first-hand impression.

* Ask about financial assistance. Many camps offer early enrollment or sibling discounts, and some will arrange payment plans with parents. Every year, 90% of ACA camps offer some kind of financial assistance, often called “camperships,” totaling more than $39 million.

Hopewell Federal can help you save for camp and other family activities by helping create a spending plan. Call us today at 740.522.8311 or stop by for assistance in creating a plan.

Credit Union Blogs – NerdWallet’s Picks

We were thrilled to read, NerdWallet selected our Blog as a top pick among Credit Union blogs.  Nerdwallet.com is a great website loaded with information.  Take a moment to review the article featuring Hopewell Federal Credit Union and be sure and sign up for their mailing list.

Credit Union Blogs – NerdWallet’s Picks.

How to keep your New Year’s financial resolutions

ByJill Schlesinger /MoneyWatch/ December 28, 2012, 6:55 AM

(MoneyWatch) When you think about it, New Year’s financial resolutions may be easier to keep than losing weight or quitting that smoking habit. According to a study by Fidelity Investments, 62 percent of consumers say they stuck with their financial resolutions in the past year, compared with only 40 percent who kept their other resolutions.

View the entire cbs.com article.

 

Make SMART New Year’s Resolutions

Everyone–regardless of age–can take steps to shape up their finances.

As you decide on your New Year’s resolutions, think SMART–financial goals that are specific, measurable, adjustable, realistic, and time-oriented.

Here are some examples of financial goals for different generations:

Youth
* Collect your change. Each time you buy something, save the change you get back. Deposit the change in a container at the end of every day. Over time it could add up to a significant amount of money.

* Save your allowance. Whether you want to buy something you’ve been eyeing for months or you want to start saving for college, the only way you are going to do it is by putting your allowance away. Deposit at least part of your allowance in a share savings account at the credit union.

Gen Y
* Open a Roth IRA (individual retirement account) and start saving. Make savings a habit and invest at least 10% of every paycheck for retirement. The longer you have to save with a Roth IRA, the more you save on taxes. Although contributions aren’t tax-deductible, your money grows tax-free and comes out tax-free as long as you meet certain requirements.

* Put your credit card away. Use credit cards only when you know you have the funds set aside to pay the bill in full when the bill comes. Don’t leave a balance on your credit card or you’ll be charged interest.

Baby boomers
* Put your debts in priority order. Make a list of all your liabilities and organize them by the annual interest rate. Pay off those with the highest rates first, while still making at least minimum payments on all the others. Set a specific, realistic date for when you plan to achieve your goal of paying off all debts.

* Determine your net worth. Calculate your assets minus liabilities each year–preferably on Dec. 31–so you quickly can see whether you’re gaining ground or falling behind. Your net worth should be increasing each year. If it’s not, make a plan to improve it, such as pay down a specific debt or put more money into a retirement account.

Seniors
* Evaluate your estate plan. Establish or review your will, advance directives, and powers of attorney, and make sure they reflect your preferences and current situation. Make sure all of your intended beneficiaries are on file for all your financial accounts.

* Check all insurance policies. For example, know what is covered in your homeowners policy and verify your liability coverage. Call your insurance agent if you have any questions.

A credit union could be your best source for a mortgage

Great article from HSH.com…

Financial institutions have pulled back on mortgage lending since the housing bubble burst, but credit unions have increased their mortgage lending substantially. According to CreditUnions.com, credit unions originated 60 percent more first mortgages during the first nine months of 2012 compared to the first nine months of 2011.

Click here to read the full article

Guidelines for Paperwork Storage

Many people struggle with knowing what paperwork to hang on to, how long to keep it, and what to shred. Follow these guidelines to help keep your files lean and organized.

Keep for less than one month
• Receipts for small purchases and ATM transactions—Keep until you reconcile against your checking account or credit card statements.

Keep short term (less than one year)
• Credit card, utility, cell phone, and other monthly statements until you’ve reviewed for accuracy.
• If you’ll need any of these bills for tax purposes (i.e., you write off part of your cell phone bill for a small business), keep them for tax documentation.
• Loan and mortgage statements—Get rid of monthly or quarterly statements when your end of year statements arrive.
• Copy of your driver’s license
• Comprehensive list of credit union and other financial institution account numbers; credit card account numbers (in case your wallet is stolen or for another emergency)
• Old insurance claims—If the claim has been paid.
• Social security statements—Shred last year’s when you receive a new one and have reviewed for accuracy.
• Pay stubs—Purge individual pay stubs once your annual W-2 form arrives and you’ve reviewed for accuracy.
• Vehicle paperwork—Keep for one year after you sell the vehicle.
• Receipts for major purchases (to use the warranty or prove value in the case of loss or damage or for items you may want to return).

Keep one year
• Hopewell Federal Credit Union checking or savings account statements. If you use Hopewell online, you might choose to not receive paper statements—account information is available 24/7 and statements are available monthly.
• Retirement plan statements: Keep quarterly statements of contributions and withdrawals for one year. Toss after matching figures with annual statement. Keep annual summaries until you retire.

Keep long term
• Tax documents to include proof of charitable contributions and tax-deductible medical expenses.
• Loan and mortgage annual statements
• Receipts and information relating to major home improvement
• If you buy or sell property, keep records of legal fees and your real estate agent’s commission for six years after you sell your house.
• Bills for major purchases

Keep indefinitely
• Birth, death, and marriage certificates
• Divorce, adoption, citizenship, military discharge, and veterans papers
• Social Security cards
• Wills and living wills
• Passports
• Diplomas
• Insurance beneficiaries
• Education records
• Immunization records
• Tax returns (1040)
• Tax forms related to retirement accounts
• Documents related to trusts or giving stock to beneficiaries
• Power of attorney
• Inheritance records
• Updated household inventory
• Proof of major debt repayment
• Legal correspondence
• Bankruptcy paperwork
• Retirement account documentation that shows contributions and withdrawals

Keep electronic data on an encrypted USB flash drive or encrypted external hard drive. You can cut down on a lot of paperwork by signing up for online statements and payments from Hopewell Federal. If you don’t have a safe deposit box, stop at Hopewell Federal Credit Union for details about this safe, affordable way to store your valuable documents.