28 Dec

3 Money Saving New Year’s Resolution Ideas

money-saving-ideas

As we get ready to kick-off the new year, here are a few simple ideas to help you save money throughout 2018.

Automate Savings to a Separate Account

One of the best ways to save money is to never make it available to spend in the first place. Set aside a target amount each month that you want to save, and set up automatic transfers to a dedicated savings account. How much should you set aside? It doesn’t really matter. The important thing is that you’ll be saving more than you did previously, and it will require little to no effort on your part to manage. Just set it and forget it – then let the savings begin!

Here are some common benefits you get with a dedicated savings account with automated transfers:

  • Low minimum deposit to get started
  • Flexibility to set your deposit schedule – once a month, twice a month, or on every paycheck

Bring Your Lunch to Work

brown-bag-lunch

According to one analysis of the United States Department of Agriculture’s food expenditure data from 2014 performed by The Food Institute, millennials spent 44% of their food dollars on eating out. The trend of fast-casual restaurants and increased take-out ordering options means it’s becoming more convenient for Americans to get food quickly on the go. It also makes it easy to quickly rack up expensive meals if you’re not carefully managing how much you spend.

Making a lunch at home and bringing it to work is a great way to buck this trend and deliver yourself savings throughout 2018 – with the added benefit it might give you some extra time on your lunch break to relax or socialize with your co-workers.

Open a Christmas Club Savings Account

Start setting aside cash year-round so that you’re ready when Santa Claus comes to town in 2018. The focus of Christmas should be on family fun – not worrying about your holiday shopping budget. Planning ahead and getting an early start on your holiday shopping can help alleviate some financial stress during the holiday season. A little planning and a little saving can go a long way to having a stress-free Christmas and finishing the year on track financially.

To learn more about how a Christmas savings account can help you start setting aside cash for next holiday season, check out our Christmas Club Savings Account. Some of the advantages of this account include:

  • No monthly service fees
  • No minimum balance
  • Earn competitive dividends in the months leading up to the holidays

2018 is your year to start saving!

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.

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.

22 Sep

Things Worth Saving Up for and Splurging On

Things Worth Saving up For

As much as we all like saving money wherever we can, there are a few things in life that people, for the most part, agree are worth spending the extra money on. Whether it’s an experience you’ll never forget or an item that you’ll use every day; some things are worth a bit of a splurge. While everyone’s priorities and opinions are different, this list of things worth saving up for and splurging on seems to be pretty consistent across the board.

Mattress

Fun fact, you spend about a third of your life sleeping, so the real question here is why wouldn’t you splurge on a great mattress? Not only will you get a better night’s sleep, but your productivity and energy will increase too.

Sheets

This goes hand in hand with the quality mattress point. Anyone who’s slept on scratchy sheets can attest that great bedding can make all the difference in getting a good night’s sleep. Now, we’re not saying to go out and buy 1,800 thread count, Egyptian cotton bedding, but spending a little extra money on better sheets can really impact the quality of your shut eye.

Phone and Computer

It’s 2017 and most of us use one, if not both, of these items all day, every day. Investing in a quality product, whichever brand you may be loyal to, will not only last longer, but have less technical issues in the long run than its cheap counterpart.

Running Shoes

Anyone who’s ever ran more than a mile in subpar shoes knows what we’re talking about. While paying $100+ every 200-500 miles may seem like a lot, the injuries that you’ll prevent in the long run make it completely worth it; especially if you consider yourself an avid runner.

Vacations

Are you going to remember that one week in May 2018 when you went to work every day like normal, or when you took a trip somewhere new and made unforgettable memories? People are always saying how they regret not having more experiences and making the most of life when they had the chance. Don’t let that be you.

Now, while you can plan a vacation on the cheap, there are some things you should not go for the cheapest option on. Generally speaking, hotels and sleeping accommodations are the best example of “you get what you pay for.” Depending on where you’re vacationing, paying a little more per night for a room in a safer and more comfortable place, could make or break your whole trip.

Quality Toilet Paper

Not that this one needs very much explaining, but you’ll end up spending the same amount, if not more, for more roles of the cheap, thin stuff than for the nicer brands. Give yourself a break and go for luxury here.

 

While not splurging on some of these items may be fine with some, a good rule of thumb is that if you use something every single day, it’s worth spending a little extra money on to ensure it is of great quality. While it may take some time to save up the money to splurge on these items, it is usually worth it in the long run.

Making a budget and investing in a good savings account are some great first steps to ensuring you have the money for things worth saving up for and splurging on. Lucky for you, RMLEFCU has the people and resources to help with both! Visit our website or give us a call at (303) 458-6660 to find out how we can help you start saving today.

Do you agree or disagree with anything on this list or have anything to add? Let us know in the comments!

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.

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