18 Oct

Planning for Retirement Now

Planning for Retirement Now

No matter what age you are, the time to start planning for retirement is now. If you have no idea where to start, or just want to review your current plan, we’re here to help. By following these few pieces of advice, you can take your retirement savings plan up a notch and start seeing the real difference that saving early can make.

Contribute to Your 401(k)

Contributing to your 401(k) is the simplest way to start planning for your retirement. Even if it seems impossible when you’re struggling to pay off student debt, pay rent, and just afford to eat, focusing on setting aside a small amount every paycheck and contributing it to your 401(k) can make a huge difference in the long run.

Another benefit, is that most employers offer contribution matches to your 401(k). Meaning the amount that you put in, they will match up to a certain percentage, usually 3%. This is essentially free retirement money, so take full advantage and contribute at least the maximum amount that they will match. You should start contributing to your 401(k) as soon as possible.

Open an Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA)

There are two types of IRAs, traditional and Roth – both with advantages depending on when you would like your contributions to be taxed. A traditional IRA allows you to contribute up to $5,500 per year and grows, tax-deferred, until retirement. With a Roth IRA, you can contribute the same amount per year, but the money is taxed now instead of when you remove it at retirement. RMLEFCU offers both types of IRAs, so you can pick the account that best suits your retirement savings needs. Learn more about our IRA options here.

Be Wise with Your Investments

The younger you are, the more aggressive you can be with your investments as you can handle the ups and downs of the long-term market. The older you get though, you likely want to start choosing more conservative investment options with less risk. If you know little to nothing about investing, instead of trying to decipher the world of stocks and mutual funds by yourself, it’s wise to enlist the help of a professional. Here at RMLEFCU, we have a great financial planning department that is ready to help you plan for retirement and long-term success.

Plan an Emergency Fund

Now that you’re contributing funds toward your retirement, you may think that you don’t need to save anything else. In the case of an emergency though, you’ll want to have a separate account set up with a decent amount of money that can be used for unexpected expenses instead of putting large expenses on a credit card or, even worse, using retirement savings. By setting up a separate savings account with an ideal amount of about 3 months living expenses saved up, you can maintain peace of mind that you will be able to handle any unfortunate emergency that might come up. Sometimes cars break down and dogs need to visit the vet. RMLEFCU offers both regular and custom savings accounts to help you with your specific savings goals. Check them out and see which is the better option for you.

Give yourself peace of mind by looking at the big picture and planning for retirement sooner rather than later. You’ll thank yourself in the long run and probably not even miss the simple expenses you might have to cut back on today. If you need help getting started planning for retirement and would like to speak with one of our financial advisors, give us a call at (303) 458-6660 or visit our website for more information.

 

 

12 Oct

Tips for Paying Off Debt

Tips for Paying Off Debt

Debt has become a dirty four-letter word of sorts. People don’t want to talk about it, and yet it consumes and frustrates so many of us. Fear not though! RMLEFCU is here to give you a few tips for paying off debt and help you along the way.

Plan and Budget

Even though it may be intimidating and seem impossible to dig yourself out of the debt hole, if you learn how to take control of your finances and come up with a game plan, it can be a lot simpler than you think. A simple way to start, is by gathering the balances and interest rates from your various credit cards and loans. Once you have a good idea of how much you owe in total, then you can begin to come up with a budget and plan of attack.

To create a budget, start out by making a spreadsheet that includes your monthly income and expenses. Then, go through the expenses and see what costs are truly non-negotiable and which you can live without – at least until you are debt free. This will loosen up some extra cash that you can put directly towards paying off your debt, getting you one step closer to financial freedom. Check out the new budgeting tool in the RMLEFCU online banking portal. This handy feature integrates with your spending to help you plan a budget and stay on track.

Tackle the Most Expensive Debt First

Now that you have decided how much you owe in total, it’s time to take a closer look at the different interest rates on various loans and cards. Sort them from highest to lowest interest rate and focus on paying off the higher ones first, by putting more than the minimum payment down on them each month. By doing this while continuing to pay at least the minimum on all others, you will lower the amount of interest costing you the most money every month.

Another option is to consolidate your high interest debt into a lower interest option. If you have credit card debt, consider transferring the balances on your higher interest credit cards to a lower interest RMLEFCU credit card for no additional fee. If you have high interest loans such as student loans or an auto loan, talk with a loan advisor about paying them off with a lower interest RMLEFCU option such as a HELOC, personal loan, or by refinancing.

Pay More Than the Minimum

The minimum monthly payments on credit cards and loans are usually 2-3% of your total outstanding balance. In order to make a dent in your debt, you must pay more than just the minimums. Otherwise you are just dragging out the repayment period causing yourself more stress and costing yourself more money. The longer it takes you to repay charges, the more interest banks charge you. Don’t fall into this vicious cycle. Instead, try paying the minimum payment every other week or pay double the monthly minimum. For example, if your minimum payment due is $100, try paying $200 or more whether it’s all at once or sporadically throughout the month. This will allow you to avoid interest charges and improve your credit score. Win-win!

Increase your Assets

If you’re following all of the above steps and still don’t feel like you’re getting un-buried as fast as you would like, it might be time to consider other options to increase your cash flow. This can be anything from selling unnecessary items you may have accumulated over the years, or even getting a second job. Depending on how much money you need and how much time you are willing to invest, each of these options has its pros and cons that should be taken into consideration with your unique situation.

Paying off debt doesn’t have to be intimidating and frustrating. If you develop a solid plan and stick to it, becoming debt free is completely possible for anyone. If you want more tips for paying off debt or would like to speak with one of our expert representatives, give us a call at (303) 458-6660 or visit our website.

09 Aug

Banking for Students

Banking for Students

As a student, your schedule can vary widely from day to day, along with your financial needs. It’s important that your credit union be flexible and grow with you as your needs change. RMLEFCU offers a number of convenient features for students, such as mobile banking, person-2-person transfers, and shared branching. Rocky Mountain Law Enforcement Federal Credit Union also has a first time Visa credit card for students without any credit history. Banking for students is not just limited to whatever institution has an ATM near campus – use RMLEFCU when you are away at school for both its convenience and unbeatably low rates.

Convenience

With RMLEFCU you can do most banking transactions from your phone or online, which is perfect for students that don’t have the time or transportation to get to a branch. This includes depositing checks, transferring money, checking your balance, and more.

If you are not near an RMLEFCU branch and do need to visit in person, RMLEFCU makes that possible by partnering with over 5,000 credit unions across the United States. Wherever you are going to school, RMLEFCU will go with you. Visit any partner credit union to perform your in-branch transactions.

Take advantage of free overdraft protection and courtesy pay for those students that are a little tight on cash. Your card will not be declined for insufficient funds and you do not need to worry about ATM fees either. With a Kasasa checking account, up to $25 in ATM fees are refundable each month.

Person-2-Person Transfers

As a student, there is a lot of splitting costs for meals and bills with roommates. RMLEFCU offers person-2-person transfers for those unpredictable times that you need to give someone money but don’t have (or want to pull out) any cash. Using either online banking or your mobile phone app, you can transfer funds from your bank account directly to someone else. Who carries cash these days anyways?

Build Credit Early

Most students don’t have much credit yet, but the time to build it is now. RMLEFCU can help you get your first credit card and establish length of account history with a checking account. RMLEFCU has reasonable interest rates for credit cards, even for first time card holders. By working on establishing credit as a student, after graduation you will be able to get great rates on everything from a car to your first house.

Pay for School

Another popular feature for students is using a HELOC to pay for schooling/living expenses. Having your parents take out a Home Equity Line of Credit, or a HELOC, to pay for schooling will help keep your interest rates low – saving both students and parents a lot of money. It can be drawn on when needed and paid back as you are able to.

RMLEFCU – Banking for Students

With shared branching, online banking, and mobile banking, you can get everything you need as a member of Rocky Mountain Law Enforcement Federal Credit Union even when you are away at school. Take advantage of our low rates for first time card holders and build credit now so you are in a good place after college to start making those large purchases.

27 Jun

Giving a Child a Credit Card: Why It’s Not as Crazy an Idea as It Sounds

Giving a Child a Credit Card

Do you remember when it first started to really sink in that you were going to have to repay all of those purchases you racked up on your credit card, plus interest? Many of us learn this lesson in early adulthood when we first become financially independent, but there is a way to help your children to this epiphany before it has to happen the hard way. By giving a child a credit card at an age as young as 12, you can keep the training wheels on while still helping them build credit and learn valuable financial lessons.

Builds Accountability

Skills like budgeting and money management come with practice, so why not start early?

Giving a cash allowance to a child is one step in building accountability, but giving them the capability to make credit purchases will take that budgeting training to the next level. Learning about delayed consequences for your spending decisions is something many adults have not even mastered yet. Start instilling the idea that choices you make today will always have consequences tomorrow while your children are still young.

Learn About How and When to Use Credit Cards

There is no harm in responsible use of credit cards. Using credit cards regularly will help lenders see that you are reliable to pay off debts, and when you are confident that you can afford to repay what you have borrowed, credit cards can be used to earn reward points and budget large purchases.

Giving a child practice making decisions of when to use credit versus cash will give them valuable financial practice for their adult life, and hopefully, avoid later falling into debt.

Online shopping is still growing and credit cards tend to be safer than debit for online purchases. By giving your child their own, they can make online purchases with their own money and not need to borrow a parent’s credit card.

Establish Credit Early

Many people begin building credit once they are adults. By allowing a child as young as 12 to have a credit card in their name, you can help them to build valuable credit gradually and be better prepared for larger purchases as young adults such as college loans, vehicles, and eventually their first home.

Parents Are Still in Control

With credit cards for children under 18, a parent or guardian can still be the responsible party and can track their child’s spending. These cards tend to have low, manageable limits and can be linked to a debt account for easy payments. You can kill two birds with one stone by giving a child a credit card; learn how to responsibly use a credit card while establishing a credit history.

Giving a Child a Credit Card

Open a credit card for your child in their name to help them learn valuable financial lessons early on in life. You will still retain control and the ability to track their spending, but with them being the primary holder, you can more closely give them the accountability a credit card of their own will one day require.

03 May

How to Fund Your Honeymoon with a Loan

Fund Your Honeymoon with a Loan

Figuring out how to pay for a honeymoon that lives up to your expectations, especially after planning and paying for a wedding, can just seem like one more daunting task to deal with.

A great option that not many know about is to fund your honeymoon with a loan. You can still go on the honeymoon you’ve always dreamed of while not racking up a mountain of credit card debt. Vacation loans have lower interest rates than your typical credit card (as low as 7.95% APR*) and you often have up to 12 months to repay.

You don’t want to start off your new life together without two pennies to rub together. Take out a loan for your honeymoon to eliminate the struggle of finding the cash to pay for it and make your vacation the way it should be: stress free!

Don’t Compromise on Your Dream Honeymoon

You probably have one or two vacation destinations you’ve always imagined for your honeymoon. Whether it’s something tropical or a mountain getaway, you don’t have to compromise on your honeymoon. This should be your one chance to truly take that romantic getaway to your dream destination. Celebrate your new marriage without stressing the financial details!

If you have a little bit of money set aside for the honeymoon but it just doesn’t seem like enough, pay for your honeymoon with a mix of both. Knock out the plane tickets and lodging with a loan, then use cash for dining out and spending money while on your honeymoon.

A Loan is Better than Credit Card Debt

Many new couples come out of their wedding and honeymoon with a mountain of credit card debt; probably not the ideal way to start your new life together. By opting for a loan rather than racking up your credit card to pay for a honeymoon, you can enjoy a lower interest rate and a structured re-payment plan.

A loan is gentler on your credit score as well. If you have other large purchases planned, like a house or a car, you will want your credit score looking as good as possible. Not only will a loan collect less interest but it is also “better” debt than consumer debt.

Start Your New Life Together in Good Financial Standing

A new marriage usually means new joint expenses and more serious planning for your future together. Do retirement-age you a favor and start things off on a good foot. Keep some cash for the unexpected, minimize your credit card debt, and prioritize low interest loans to higher interest alternatives.

With Rocky Mountain Law Enforcement Credit Union, you can borrow up to $2,500 with an APR as low as 7.95%.* To learn more, call 303-458-6660, go to rmlefcu.org, or visit one of our branches.

*Annual Percentage Rate. With approved credit. Some restrictions may apply. Offer valid through July 31, 2017

18 Jan

5 Financial Milestones to Hit in 2017

Financial milestones are goals we aim to achieve. Some should be stressed at certain milestones in our own life. In this vein, we picked five financial goals you may have depending on your current age.

Are you just entering workforce?

Start saving for retirement

If you can stand to, save 10% of your salary. The earlier you start doing this, the more you can take advantage of compound interest. If you’re a woman, chances are you will live longer (sorry boys), so try and factor that into your retirement savings. Although you may be receiving a pension if you joined the force, it might not be enough for you to live on entirely.

You’re in Your Mid-Twenties

Set up an emergency fund

Save to be able to cover all your expenses for 6 months if you’re single, three months if you’re married. Start by adding $100 a month to a separate account. You can set up an automatic withdrawal from your checking account to help build your emergency fund. Read More