27 Apr

Emergency Funds: Do I Really Need One and How Big Should It Be?

Emergency Fund

Did you know that according to recent survey, roughly 26% of adults in the U.S. have no savings set aside for emergencies*? What do you think is the percentage of adults that experience financial emergencies each year? It would be nice to think that it’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 26%, but it is surely higher.

You probably periodically consider starting an rainy day fund but then something comes up to pay or save for and you put it off to next year. No matter how small your first contribution is, now is the time to get serious about building (and keeping!) a healthy emergency fund.

Why Have an Emergency Fund?

Separate from your general savings account, every individual and family should have a designated emergency fund with a consistent balance. Anyone with children knows how common unexpected dental work or home repair can be, but even unattached adults need to be able to survive a lay-off or medical emergency.

Other than interest, another thing that can be gained from having an emergency fund is simple peace of mind. Anyone who has ever lived paycheck to paycheck can tell you that it is not a fun lifestyle; the smallest financial inconvenience can spell falling behind on important bills, not to mention sleepless nights. By having a designated emergency fund, you are buying yourself a sense of security just as much as you are paying for those unforeseen life events.

How Big Should My Emergency Fund Be?

The general rule of thumb for an emergency fund is three months’ worth of expenses. Obviously the more savings the better, but enough cash to get you through three months should be your minimum. This fund can be for anything from medical bills to home repair, but it should also be large enough to support you and your family in the event of losing steady income.

If you do not already have a good idea of how much you spend each month on everything from housing to groceries, figure out that amount first. Go back and take a good look at your spending habits. Guessing your total grocery bill won’t do you any favors if you have to live off of your emergency fund and realize half of it is being lost to food.

Once you have that monthly figure, multiply by three and then add a little cushion of maybe 10% more for good measure. Don’t stop there if you have the means to beef up your emergency fund even more, but three months should be your absolute minimum balance at all times.

If you don’t have an emergency fund, today is the perfect day to start one. Open a separate savings account, deposit just $100, and make the mental decision to never withdraw money unless it truly is an emergency. Your future self will thank you.

Check out this video to learn more about emergency funds!

*https://www.creditdonkey.com/average-american-savings-statistics.html

25 Apr

6 Money Draining Habits You Need to Quit Doing

Would you like to regain control of your financial health? Have some of your spending habits become so familiar you forgot what life was like when you didn’t make them?  We’ve identified six money draining habits and give advice on how to make them a thing of the past.

  • Stop rewarding yourself with sweets. Do you “treat” yourself with sugary sweets? Look for other ways to treat yourself that won’t affect your waistline, blood sugar, and pocketbook as much. A few suggestions include trying a new workout on YouTube, going for a hike, or letting everyone know you are taking “you time” and aren’t available for the next hour or so.
  • Curb your enthusiasm for wine, beer, and liquor. Try not to keep it in the house and be ready to turn down some social activities that require buying drinks. Look at how much you are spending at the liquor store, bars, and restaurants. Did you know the average consumer spends more than $1,200 a year on beer? That figure doesn’t include spending at bars or restaurants. Think about how often you usually order food with your drinks and the tally increases.

Read More

22 Mar

Credit Card Comparison Shopping

choose credit card

Don’t Get Suckered into High APR* Credit Cards with Enticing Rewards

Unless you’ve been living in Siberia, you’ve inevitably heard advertisements for credit cards. Maybe you’ve seen a smiling Jennifer Garner or a smooth talking Samuel L. Jackson chatting about cash back rewards. Regardless of the spokesperson, credit card companies try to entice you with travel reward bonuses or cash back bonuses and they always close with a catchy tagline like “What’s in Your Wallet?”

Our catchy tagline: Keep more of your money with the RMLEFCU Visa. (Maybe it’s not that catchy after all, but it is true.) Keep reading to learn more.

Credit Card Comparison:

It seems like a great deal right? Spend money that you would be spending regardless on your credit card to get rewarded with travel. The cold hard truth is that it takes so much spending to get you to the level of redemption, you would be better off checking Kayak or other travel websites to get a better deal on flights and hotels. Furthermore, miles are not really miles. They’re points that are redeemed at 1 cent per dollar spent.

Let’s use the simplest example: a one-point-to-one-cent ratio, which happens to be Capital One Venture Cards’ ratio. In such cases 100,000 points can buy you $1,000 worth of airline tickets. Do you spend $100,000 a year on your credit card? Yeah, us neither.

There is a tradeoff for those “perks.” Take advantage of them, but if you ever carry a balance, be prepared to pay 19-25% APR for your purchases. Yowza! That would easily and quickly negate any rewards. Thanks but we’ll keep our lower APR and buy our tickets through discount websites.

Here at Rocky Mountain Law Enforcement Federal Credit Union we offer a Classic Visa®, Platinum Visa® Select, and a Platinum Visa® with uChoose rewards. Read More

04 Nov

A Budget Savvy Holiday Gift Guide for Everyone on Your List

The holiday season is fraught with excess. Overeating, overdrinking and overspending can lead to headaches, regret and a depleted bank account. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Just because you are frugal doesn’t mean you have to forego giving altogether or buy gifts for your friends and family at dollar stores. You can choose meaningful, local gifts for every personality on your list. For this budget  savvy holiday gift guide we selected local experiences and handcrafted items that recipients will appreciate and cherish long after Christmas.

Budget Savvy Holiday Gift Guide for:

The Foodie 
  • Denver Dining Out Passbook – $34.99- This is a good deal since it was $99 when it was first issued. The recipient has until 7/31/16 to use 2 for 1 deals from restaurants like DiFranco’s and our personal favorite Gaetano’s.
  • Cooking Classes from the Kitchen Table in Greenwood Village. Classes are usually $80-$95 with many including 5 course meals and wine. Plus you gain practical knowledge and a memorable experience.
The Philanthropist with Style

Threads Worldwide – A Denver based company that partners with fair trade cooperatives in twelve countries to create beautiful jewelry and accessories. Shop online here.

The Practical Philanthropist

Oxfam – Browse their online catalog and pick out a unique, symbolic gift. The best part is that your selection will benefit an individual in need. Gifts include a goat, a school meal program for one child, mosquito nets, etc.

The Sports Fan

Get them Season tickets to the Mammoth! There are nine home games and prices start as low as $80 for season tickets. It’s fast paced, high scoring, and you’re cheering on a local team.

Outdoors Enthusiast

Buy an Annual State Parks Pass for only $70 per vehicle. The Annual Pass can now be purchased at any time of year and is valid for a full 12 months of use.

Up for Anything Types

Buy them a Class with Dabble. Offerings are in person in the Denver metro area and include classes like: holiday wreath making, glassblowing, screen printing, and even beginning blacksmithing.

Tech Guru

Further their knowledge or help them get a jump on a new career with a class from the Colorado Free University.

The Police Officer

A Swiss Army knife with add-ons like a light, seat belt cutters, and window punches. Here’s one choice that is bound to come in handy. Or a good electric travel mug so that no matter how busy they are their beverage will stay the same temperature.

A Stressed Out Parent

An offer to babysit coupled with a restaurant gift certificate would be very appreciated. Another idea is a certificate for house cleaning from a professional such as 5280 Housecleaning or Maid Complete.

Congratulations! You’ve covered a lot of ground with this budget savvy holiday gift guide.

You can’t drive on an empty tank and you can’t be your best self without a little reward, right? Remember that with our Holiday Loan Slideby you can skip loan payments in December. Complete the coupon in this month’s newsletter (Dispatch) and turn it in to a branch as soon as possible to free up more holiday cash!

05 Oct

Use these Apps to Save Money on Eating Out

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer expenditure surveys, the typical household spends $2,625 each year, or around $219 per month on food outside the home.

Do you know how much you’re spending on eating out? One way to find out is to download a month’s worth of spending into an excel format. You can sort the vendor name alphabetically and quickly add up any restaurant names.

Those in higher income groups spend more on restaurants — around $370 per month — and those in the lowest income groups spend less, at around $104 per month.

Here are a few signs that you’re spending TOO much. Also, don’t forget that all beverages consumed outside the home should also be included

  • You spend more at restaurants than you do on groceries.
  • Your restaurant tab rivals your housing costs.

We don’t want to take away all of the fun of going out to eat so we’re listing our two favorite apps to save you money at restaurants. We selected these since they have the largest amount of restaurants to choose from and for ease of use.

Restaurant.com

Their website states, “Save up to 50% at 62,000 restaurants.” so you can be assured they have plenty of matches in most cities and decent sized towns.

How it works: You purchase a $25 gift certificate for $10, but they often run promotions where you can buy the same $25 gift certificate for just $2 or $3. $25 worth of food for $2.

Ease of use: You can search by restaurant name, cuisine type, city, or zip code. Why so cheap? You are accepting their restrictions:

Each restaurant has their own set of restrictions. Some of the most common are:

  • Minimum purchase ($35 or $50)
  • Dine-in only
  • Not valid Friday or Saturday night
  • Alcohol does not count toward minimum purchase
  • Not valid toward tax or tip
  • Limit 1 per table
  • Not valid with any other offers

Based on a search of Denver, CO – there were 68 restaurants within 5 miles, and 88 within 10 miles.

We recommend asking around or looking up the restaurant on Yelp before you buy.

Groupon – Your first step is to click on Categories and select “Food and Drink”, then “Restaurants.” You can filter by category, distance, price, or click on “Map” to see what is close.

As of 10/4/16, there were 147 matches. Groupon also regularly does special “Today Only” or “3 day deals” where the discounts are even deeper. As of 10/4/16 there is a Groupon-a-thon where certain restaurants deals are even cheaper. One example of a deal is a voucher good for $20 at Jack-N-Grill that you can purchase for $13 or a $40 voucher for $25.

So, go ahead. Charge up that phone, download that app, put on a nice shirt and go out to eat. If you use these apps you may be able to eat out for less than a home cooked meal.

03 Oct

The Easy Way to Use Coupons

Admit it. Using coupons seems like a lot of work. You’re busy and question whether the effort is worth it. Should you spend your precious time chasing after deals, visiting multiple stores, and only buying things when you have a coupon for them? We get it. Buying something that you never intended to buy only because you have a coupon is counterproductive. But if you follow our guidelines, using coupons can be convenient and save you both money and time.

First, you need to gather your coupons. There are four main sources:

  • newspaper inserts – can be manufacturer or store coupons
  • store’s website – you must print
  • mobile apps
  • store coupons – emailed or snail mailed

Which ones you use depends on your comfort level with technology and whether you can remember your printed coupons.

Easy Way to Use Coupons at Grocery Stores in Colorado

King Soopers will double manufacturer coupons of $0.50 or less while those worth $0.51 – $1.00 in savings will be redeemed for $1.00, and manufacturer coupons over $1.00 will be redeemed at face value.

At Sprouts, the number of coupons per transaction is unlimited. Sprouts coupons can be combined with a manufacturer’s coupon, unless stated it cannot be used in conjunction with any other coupons or offers. When purchasing a single item, Sprouts accepts one manufacturer coupon. They do not double coupons. Bonus tip: Because their weekly prices run from Wednesday to Wednesday, you can save the most in the middle of the week when the ads overlap.

Safeway is store dependent regarding doubling of coupons, so it’s best to ask at your preferred store. “Double coupon” promotions do not apply to any internet or digital coupons except for applicable internet printed manufacturer coupons.

Trader Joe’s has great deals to begin with and does not offer an app or mobile coupons.

At Walmart, you can’t double coupons, but they will price match.

Easy Way to Use Coupons at Hardware/Home Improvement Stores in Colorado

Most Ace Hardware stores are independently owned. Many will price match but you’ll have to ask the manager. If they do, they most likely follow these guidelines:

If you find a lower price on an identical item, at your local Home Depot or Lowe’s, just bring in their current ad and Ace will match their price.

If Home Depot or Lowe’s is offering a percent off discount, Ace will match the final net price the competitor is offering.

Home Depot – If you find a current lower price on an identical, in-stock item from any retailer, they will match the price and beat it by 10%. Just bring the ad, printout or photo with you to the register.

Lowe’s – If you find a lower everyday price on an identical item at a local retail competitor, just bring in the competitor’s current ad, and they’ll beat their price by 10%. If a competitor is offering a percent off discount, they’ll match the final net price.

In future posts, we’ll discuss other types of online coupons and daily deal sites like Groupon and Living Social.

Save on!