Five Steps to Organizing Your Finances

Do you know your net worth? Or how much you spend each month, and on what? Or how much you can expect from your pension plan or Social Security in retirement?

A no to most of these questions puts you with the majority of the population who have been too busy with life to get a handle on their finances.

Fortunately, there’s a five-step action plan to help you take control of your money.

1. Set up a financial filing system. Create a personalized filing system by labeling accordion file pockets with broad financial categories. Then label regular file folders with subcategories that fit your situation and file them into the accordion pockets. For example, create a Property & Casualty Insurance accordion file and fill it with a Vehicle Insurance regular file folder.

2. Gather records. Look through your records to identify missing information. For example, you need an estimate of your Social Security retirement benefits. To request one, contact the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213. Gather copies of your health, disability, life, homeowners, and vehicle insurance policies, and get a copy of your credit report. Contact the three national credit bureaus for information about how to request a copy of your credit report and how to correct any errors you find (Experian 888-397-3742, Equifax 800-685-1111, Trans Union 877-322-8228).

3. Size up your situation. Add the estimated current value of all assets, including your home, car, personal property, savings, investments, and retirement accounts.

Next, add all liabilities, including mortgage, credit card balances, and any other outstanding debt. Then subtract liabilities from assets to figure net worth.

Then, make a list of income and expenses by reviewing paycheck stubs, checkbook register, and credit card statements from the past year. Finally, track spending for a month by saving all receipts or recording cash purchases in a notebook. A spending plan form or money management software program helps organize spending by category.

4. Chart a course. Set financial goals–long-term and short-term–and figure how much money you’ll need for each. Create a target saving and spending plan that meets needs using your list of income expenses. For a month or more, track actual spending to see how you’re doing, making changes as necessary

5. Brush up on money management basics. Contact or visit Hopewell Federal Credit Union for more information about how to save and spend finances wisely.

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Real Reasons to Hire a Financial Advisor

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Scott Webb
“Advice For Life”
Webb Financial Group LLC
“The Wealth Management Firm”

What is the biggest reason you hire a financial advisor? If you read and believe the media hype, you might think it is to outperform the stock market.  This is very difficult to do.  In fact, most fund managers can’t over a 10 year period.  I did a research paper back in 1988 and could not find any empirical evidence that a fund manager could outperform the indice they were trying to beat.

If a financial advisor can’t do this then why hire them?  Here are some compelling reasons from Sally Krawcheck(Former president of Smith Barney), Linked In, March 26, 2013.

1. Ask you questions you don’t want to talk about: How to take care of your aging parents? Do you have a will?  What would you do if you lost your job?  These are great questions you need to address by somebody that talks about this every day.

2. Put together a financial plan: When are you going to retire? How much life insurance is enough? Am I paying too much in taxes? How do all my investments work together?

3. Identify risks in your portfolio: You might own 5 investments all in one asset class.  You might have all your money in stocks at age 65 and not know how much risk you have.

4. Talk you through market volatility: Research has shown that historically the stock market has recovered over time.  It is important if you have long term goals to be patient on not sell at the bottom depending on your personal situation.

5. Identify your biases with objectiveness: This is a huge one.  In 1996 I met with a worker from Owens Corning with all his money in Owens Corning stock.  He would be a lot wealthier today if he would have diversified.  He had worked there for 30 years and told me the company wasn’t going anywhere…

These are some points that some people might not think about when they are planning their future.  My opinions are general in nature and not intended for any specific individual.  Hopefully you find a good advisor that addresses these concerns for you.

Webb Financial Group LLC and can be reached at scott.webb@lpl.com, (740)454-6113 or http://www.webbfinancialgroupllc.com.  Securities are offered through LPL Financial, member FINRA/SIPC. Insurance products offered through LPL Financial or its licensed affiliates.

Not NCUA Insured
Not Credit Union Guaranteed
May Lose Value

Give Your Debts a Financial Health Check

A debt-to-income ratio is a measure of financial stability calculated by dividing monthly minimum debt payments by monthly gross income. This calculation gives a straightforward depiction of your financial position. Typically, the lower your ratio, the better handle you have on debt.

Determining your debt

* Collect your most recent credit billing statements for current balances
* Outline your total monthly bills using two columns: bill type (such as car loan, mortgage/rent payments, and so on) and monthly payment. Do not include bills such as taxes and utilities in this list.

* Add up the total for all of the monthly payments listed.

* Calculate your monthly before-tax income. If you receive a paycheck every other week, as opposed to twice a month, your monthly gross income is your before-tax income from one paycheck times 2.17.

* Your monthly debt-to-income ratio is calculated by dividing your monthly debt payments by your monthly income. For example, someone with a monthly income of $2,000 who is making monthly payments of $500 on loans and credit cards has a debt-to-income ratio of 25% ($500 / $2,000 = .25 or 25%).

Staying aware of your ratio can help avoid debt reaching a problematic stage.
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IRAs and Hopewell Federal Credit Union: A winning formula

“Winning is never accidental. To win consistently, you must have a clear plan and intense motivation.” –Lou Holtz, legendary football coach

Great advice, especially when it comes to retirement. A retirement plan and determination will take you where you want to go–traveling, golfing, or relaxing by a lake.

Whatever you have in mind for your golden years, a Hopewell Federal Credit Union  individual retirement account (IRA) is a safe harbor for your retirement funds. There are more IRA types, and more maturity options than ever, so funds are available when you need them, now or later.

Financial institutions notify you when a certificate comes due, but keep track of due dates. Along with terms, such as grace period, due dates are spelled out in the contract and worth checking out. If you do nothing when an IRA certificate matures, it automatically will renew at the same terms but not necessarily the same rate.

Because you don’t have to keep your IRA in the same account forever, it pays to shop around. IRA rules permit you to transfer, tax-free, IRA assets to different financial institutions or brokers. And, if you leave an employer, you may be able to move accumulated pension benefits into an IRA. If you’re switching jobs, you also can use an IRA as a holding account for moving funds to your new employer’s plan.

And if you need some, but not all, of your IRA assets, it’s possible to move part of the withdrawal tax-free into another IRA and keep the rest of it. Of course, the amount you keep generally will be taxable and may be subject to the 10% early federal withdrawal penalty, and, in some states, an additional state penalty. Shifts are subject to certain rules to avoid penalties, so check with your tax adviser to be sure.

When you’re ready for a change, contact Hopewell Federal Credit Union about rolling over established IRA funds, adding funds to, or putting new money into an IRA. We have attractive savings rates and offer a safe place for your retirement funds.

Build Your First Budget

Congratulations! You’ve got your first place, a new job, and money coming in each month. There’s only one problem: It’s never quite as much money as you’d like, is it? Managing your own income and finances for the first time can seem overwhelming, but it’s essential to get off to a smart start. Creating a “plan to spend” instead of spending without thinking is the key to long-term happiness and short-term calm.

To build your first budget after graduation, list your income from all sources first. Next, record your monthly and yearly expenditures, starting with your biggest items, like rent, student loan payments, and car payments.

Be honest with yourself about the difference between needs and wants, and categorize them appropriately by listing your needs first when you budget. Elizabeth Warren, White House adviser and co-author of “All Your Worth,” advocates a 50-20-30 strategy to allocate income. Put 50% toward needs such as rent and transportation, 20% to savings for retirement and emergencies, and use 30% wants such as travel and entertainment.

While using resources like online websites Mint.com, Quicken, or a spreadsheet can be helpful, they aren’t necessary. It’s more important to keep the budget simple, to be realistic, and to adjust it regularly as needed. Allow for budget busters like car maintenance and fees that only need to be paid yearly instead of monthly.

Give your budget time to work. You might find it difficult to meet your saving goals immediately but, over time, you’ll make progress as you continue to track income and spending. Finally, keep your bigger financial goals in mind as you work to stick to your budget each month.

Come to Hopewell Federal Credit Union for help creating and sticking to your first budget.  Another great tool, visit http://anytime.cuna.org/25934/index.php to view the Anytime Advisor for a fantastic online credit advisor. 

Copyright 2011 Credit Union National Association Inc. Information subject to change without notice. For use with members of a single credit union. All other rights reserved.