17 Feb

When is it ok to tap into your IRA?

Ninety six percent of the time, it is wise to adopt an out of sight out of mind mindset when it comes to your retirement accounts. But this article is about the other 4%. When is it ok to withdraw money from your IRA? When does it make more sense than borrowing? How can you avoid being penalized?

First, there are two types of IRAs. The first is a traditional IRA, where you are taxed when you take out the money in retirement. The second kind, a Roth IRA, taxes you on the front end but doesn’t hit you with any taxes when you make your withdraw the money in retirement.

The good news: withdrawals are fair game and penalty free after your 59 ½ birthday, no matter which IRA you choose.

Unfortunately, if you withdraw money from a traditional IRA or Roth IRA before you turn 59 ½, you must pay a 10% tax penalty.

There are exceptions to this rule:

Higher Education: If you pay educational expenses for

  • yourself
  • your spouse; or
  • you or your spouse’s child, foster child, adopted child, or descendant of any of them.

Educational expenses include: tuition, fees, books, supplies, and equipment required for enrollment. To get into the nitty-pic for 2.17 bloggritty, see the chart at the bottom of this link.

This is not limited to a 2 or 4 year degree program but includes any college, university, vocational school, or other post-secondary educational institution eligible to participate in a student aid program, essentially all accredited public, nonprofit, and proprietary (privately owned profit-making) post-secondary institutions.

Home:

You can withdraw up to $10,000 of IRA funds toward the purchase of your first home. If you’re married, and you and your spouse are first-time buyers, you each can pull from retirement accounts, giving you $20,000 in residential cash.

Better news: You qualify as a “first-time homebuyer” as long as you (or your spouse) didn’t own a principal residence at any time during the previous 2 years.

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09 Feb

Your Identity Has Been Stolen, Now What?

2.9.16 blog picOur January 13th blog post, “5 Ways to Avoid Having Your Identity Stolen” recommended pro-active steps with an emphasis on organization to stop identity theft from the earliest moment possible. In this blog post, let’s assume the worst has happened: your identity has been stolen.  Perhaps the thief has already used your information to open new credit card account? As soon as you are aware, what do you do to minimize the damage?

  1. Put a Fraud Alert on Your Credit Reports 

A fraud alert notifies lenders and creditors to take extra steps to verify your identity before extending credit. To place a 90-day fraud alert on all three of your credit reports, you only need to contact one of the three credit reporting agencies (ExperianEquifax, or TransUnion).

A fraud alert is great, but we recommend placing a security freeze on your credit reports. A freeze prevents creditors (except those with whom you already do business) from accessing your credit report(s)

  • Experia: https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html
  • Equifax: https://www.freeze.equifax.com/Freeze/jsp/SFF_PersonalIDInfo.jsp
  • TransUnion:https://freeze.transunion.com/sf/securityFreeze/landingPage.jsp

When you place a fraud alert on your credit reports, you’re entitled to a free copy of your credit report from each of the three agencies.

  1. Contact Any Institution Directly Affected

For example, if you know your credit card was stolen, report the theft to the credit card issuer. If your checkbook was stolen, contact your bank. Don’t waste your time calling any of the individual retailers where your card was used. That’s like complaining to your neighbors when your mail gets delivered to their house. Your best bet is to take it up with the postal carrier.

This step was also referenced in our prevention focused blog post as #1 “Photocopy the contents of your wallet.” However, your thief may have decided to branch out and open brand new accounts with companies that you’ve never heard of, so be prepared to seek out their phone numbers online.

  1. Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

File an Identity Theft Affidavit and create an Identity Theft Report. You can file your report online, by phone: 1-877-ID THEFT (877-438-4338);

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03 Feb

An Owner’s Manual to Picking the Right Used Car

autotrekRocky Mountain Law Enforcement Credit Union has partnered with AutoTrek to help first time car buyers. AutoTrek is an auto broker who works with you to find the car you want and helps you negotiate a price that works for your budget. AutoTrek carries an on-site inventory of 100 vehicles on average and has access to 40,000+ additional vehicles with their franchised dealer partners. As for new cars, AutoTrek represents 300,000 plus credit union members we are treated as a large “fleet buyer” and receive the lowest pricing available.

For members purchasing their first car, you’ll receive $100 cash back when you borrow up to $10,000 or $150 cash back when you borrow up to $15,000. On top of this, AutoTrek and RMLEFCU are offering a $100 gas card. With gas prices as low as $1.40 a gallon in the metro area, you can put plenty of miles on that new or “new to you” vehicle.

Get pre-approved by RMLEFCU and then call (303) 934-5600 to connect with AutoTrek’s experienced team.

Here are a few best practices before you make things official with the car, truck or SUV of your dreams.

  1. Take a test drive on both highway and city streets. Hitting the city streets will showcase how the car handles turns and bumps. On the highway, you’ll be able to see how fast it can accelerate and whether you notice any road noise. If you drive up any kind of incline (Lookout Mountain, anyone) you can quickly see whether it handles hills the way you were hoping.

 

  1. Look over the exterior with a fine tooth comb. If there has been repair work, how well was it done? Its always a good idea to check out the Car Fax. With an eye to the future, maybe those scratches and nicks are not important to you, but consider what happens when you try to resell the car to a dealer or private party.

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