28 Nov

How to Create a Budget

Have you ever felt like you consistently spend more than you earn in income each month? If so, a budget is a great solution. By creating a plan for your money and allocating spending limits, you can start having more control over where your income goes and how much of it you allow yourself to spend. Coming up with a plan is not always easy though, and that’s why RMLEFCU is here to show you how to create a budget, no matter what your income is.

Step 1: Determine Income

Determining income may be easier for some people than others. If you are on a salaried pay scale or get consistently similar paychecks, you can easily calculate your monthly income. For those who work hourly jobs where income is unpredictable or sporadic, this may be a bit more difficult. In this case, it is best to determine your average monthly income by calculating the average of the last 6 to 12 months of recurring income. This will give you the best estimate of what you earn, on average, per month and allow you to budget accordingly.

Step 2: Establish Wants vs. Needs

Establishing the difference between expenses that are a want and a need is a very important step. In total, these expenses should add up to about 80% of your monthly paycheck – 50% going toward essential costs, and 30% to “fun” costs.

A needed expense usually falls into one of four main categories: housing, utilities, groceries, and transportation. If you find yourself spending more that 50% of your monthly income here, then it might be time to scale back in one or more of the categories. For example, not buying all organic produce from Whole Foods every week, or trading in your luxury apartment for something a bit more affordable.

The “wants”, or fun expenses, include everything from eating out to buying concert tickets. These are the costs that can be easily reduced if you feel you’re cutting it too close to going over your budget near the end of the month and can ultimately help you realize what you truly can and cannot afford. For example, if you go completely over the allocated 30% of your income one month and realize you saw 4 movies in the theaters, that might be a good place to look at cutting costs for the future.

Step 3: Save Some Money

While it might be tempting to spend all of your excess money on entertainment, that is not how you set yourself up for future success. If you’re not sure how much you should be saving, a general rule of thumb is to allocate 20% of your monthly income to savings. This will give you an extra financial cushion should an emergency occur, or simply be a place for you to stash your money away for a much needed vacation. We know it can be difficult to transfer funds from your checking directly to a savings account, so to make it easier, we offer an automatic transfer system that will automatically deduct a certain amount from your direct paycheck deposits and put it right into your savings account. If you don’t see the money in the first place, you won’t even miss it!

Step 4: Make Adjustments and Track Your Progress

After tracking your spending for a few months, you’ll be able to easily see how much of your money goes where. If any areas seem to be off, it might be time to reevaluate your spending and see if you can cut some costs in order to save more. Priorities, income, and expenses will all change over time, and budgets have the flexibility to accommodate any and all of these changes. It is ultimately up to you to determine what you think you can reasonably afford and what is out of your means for the time being.

In the beginning, making a budget might seem like a difficult task, but in the end, it will not only make you more aware of your spending habits, but also help you understand the importance of saving. You can’t use the “not knowing how to create a budget” excuse anymore, so what are you waiting for? Visit our website and get started with a savings account today and utilize our online banking budgeting tool.

26 Nov

Kasasa Protect Video

With all the security and information breaches happening lately, it’s more important than ever to protect your identity and finances. In this video, Jon discusses Kasasa Protect and how its many benefits can prevent identity theft from happening to you. Whether you’ve recently had your identity or finances compromised, or if you just want to take a few precautionary measures, Kasasa Protect is for you. This comprehensive identity protection and restoration solution includes 24/7 credit monitoring, annual credit reports, lost wallet protection, and dark web monitoring services – just to name a few. Check out our past blog posts to learn more about Kasasa Protect and get some helpful tips to protecting your identity. If you think Kasasa Protect is for you, give us a call at (303) 458-6660 or visit our website to enroll.

16 Nov

HELOC vs Home Equity Loan Video

HELOCs and home equity loans may sound very similar, but in reality, they act very differently.  In this video, Cary discusses the differences between HELOCs and Home Equity Loans, their typical terms, and what they are commonly used for. For more information, check out past blog posts on what a HELOC is and how to use it to pay off debt. If you think you could benefit from a HELOC or home equity loan, give us a call at (303) 458-6660 or visit our website to learn more and apply today!

08 Nov

First-Time Homebuyer Mistakes to Avoid

First-Time Homebuyer Mistakes to Avoid

Buying your first home can be exciting and stressful. You are finally going to be able to call a home your own, but must also pay the price that comes with that ownership – the mortgage. While there are many things to consider before and during your home buying journey, RMLEFCU is here to make the whole process a bit easier with these first-time homebuyer mistakes to avoid.

Ignoring or Not Knowing Your Credit Score

Before you even begin planning to buy a home, you must first know if you are financially able to do so. Do you have enough money to pay for the house in cash? If not, how good of a loan will your credit score allow you to get? These are the hard, but important, questions to ask yourself when determining if you are ready to own your own home.

The first, and most basic, step to determine your financial ability, is knowing your credit score. This is the score that banks will look at when determining which home loans you qualify for and, ultimately, which houses you will be able to afford. By being aware of your credit score before meeting with a mortgage consultant, you will be able to more easily communicate your concerns and desires with them and are more likely to be happy with the result.

Looking for a Home Before a Loan

Being realistic about what you can afford is just one of the harsh truths that you must face while buying a home. By looking for houses before you know what kind of loan you qualify for, you may be setting unrealistic expectations for yourself. Instead, know where you stand before you start shopping. Visit our website or come into a RMLEFCU branch and have a financial discussion with one of our mortgage specialists to get pre-qualified for a home loan amount before you start looking.

Being Too Picky

Finding your dream house in your price range is really only a thing of fairytales. Make a list of what’s important to you in a home and decide what you need and what you can sacrifice on. For example, a great school district and large yard might be deal breakers if a home doesn’t have them, but you could maybe live without the dual master bathroom sinks and extra-large walk-in closet. It’s all about finding the happy medium between price and features.

Assuming Your Mortgage is the Only Expense

A common mistake some people make when budgeting for buying a home, is assuming that the mortgage payment will be their only expense. There are many other costs to take into account, such as property insurance, property taxes, maintenance costs, and homeowners association dues (if your residence has them). All these smaller, less significant costs can add up quickly when it comes to home budgeting and affordability. It’s best to over-budget and anticipate for more expenses early on so you’re not left blindsided and broke if anything changes in your financial situation.

The bottom line is that there more first-time home buying mistakes to avoid than you might have originally thought. It’s always better to be over-prepared, and that’s why we’re here! RMLEFCU is ready to help you finance your first home when the time comes and we have the experts here to get it done right. Visit our website or give us a call to get started and see how easy your first-time home buying process can be!