Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Start Saving Now, Thank Yourself Later!

For some of us, retirement might be next month, for others next year, and for others – it may seem a life time away.  Regardless of your age and retirement plan, it’s never too early to start saving.  No matter how old you are, where you work, or what your retirement goals are, there are ways you can start saving… today!

In Your 20’s:
  • Starting early is the best way to save for your Retirement.  Consider starting to save where you work by taking advantage of any programs offered to you, such as a 401(k).  If your budget allows, try to contribute so that your employer matches your contribution – it’ll give you a 100% return on your ‘matched’ investment, which you won’t find many places.  If you don’t have the option of saving through work, consider seeing a financial advisor or looking into a Roth IRA.
  • Create a do-able budget, and do your best to stick to it! At a young age, it can be hard to manage money with the stress of student loans, first time car purchases, and expenses of living on your own.  Finding a balance between being financially responsible and having fun.  Do your best to outline your expenses and determine how much you can save each month.

In Your 30’s:
  • Review your budgeting by reassessing wants and needs– do you still need all those cable options? Can you cut the land-line  Are you spending too much on eating out? Can you get a better rate by refinancing a loan?  Looking at where you’re spending can help you see where you can cut costs.
  • If your salary begins to increase, consider also gradually increasing the amount of each paycheck that you put away toward your retirement.  It may be a difficult adjustment at first, but if you ease into it, you’ll be glad you decided to start saving more of your income.

In Your 40’s:
  • Now is a good time to review what you have saved for retirement so far, and how much more you need to save to reach your goals.  Even if it seems disheartening, try to calculate of how much money you need to be comfortable in retirement.
  • Reassess any debts you have, and work toward getting them paid off as soon as possible! This will help with not only your finances, but your overall well-being.

In Your 50’s:
  • Review all of your accounts to learn ‘where you sit’ in savings and with your retirement fund.  If needed, make changes to plans to assure you’re on track with your retirement plan.
  • Consider ‘Catching Up’: After you turn 50, you can make “catch-up contributions” (an extra amount, beyond standard limits), or payments to tax-deferred retirement plans.  To learn more, click here.
  • Begin to look at how much you may receive from Social Security to determine what age you should apply for these benefits.

In Your 60’s:
  • Waiting to retire can sometimes add up to an increased Social Security payout.  Revisit your retirement plan and map out when you should start to receive social security benefits, and what your retirement goals are.
  • Look over spending habits, and find ways you can reduce spending if possible.  This will help assure that you will be ready to live within your means during retirement.

Saving and planning for your retirement now, can ease the stress and financial burden later in life, and can help with your overall Financial Fitness!  It may be hard to save now, but someday you’ll be glad you did.

Our mission is to educate, support, and encourage our Members to become Financially Fit.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

ID Theft: It Can Happen to Anyone!

Safety of our Members and our Community is always a priority at St. Cloud Federal Credit Union.  In the past, we’ve posted blog about how to stay safe online, and what we can do to help should any sort of identity theft occur. 

Over the past months, we’ve been focusing on the Financial Fitness of our Youth Members, in addition to our adult Members.  ID Theft criminals are using children’s social security numbers more frequently for anything from employment, apartment applications, open credit, checking, or phone accounts, and even access government benefits.  Mark Pribish, Merchant’s Info Group Vice President, and ID Theft Practice Leader covers a plethora of ID Theft safety tips for children on the internet, and even their personal information in schools.  We’ve highlighted a few of these below…

- Discuss the differences between a safe and secure website, and one that is not.
- Consider creating a list of which sites are OK to visit and which ones are definitely not.
- Talk with your children about letting you know when they come across a website they feel is suspicious. 
- Keep virus and malware software up to date and running properly.
- Remind youth of some basic online safety practice like: never give a phone number or address, don’t use full first and last names, don’t post photos without permission, and don’t download or open unknown files or programs.

At School:
 - Ask schools how your child’s information is collected, used, stored, and thrown away each school year.
- Make sure you know how school and extra curricular programs use your child’s date of birth, address, telephone number, and photo.
- If you feel as though information is requested that is not necessary, inquire why such details are needed.
- Thoroughly read privacy policies and make sure you are aware of how information is used and shared.

Some other basic safety tips are to always keep confidential documents (social security cards, passports, birth certificates, etc.) in a safe or locked file, and never give more information that you feel comfortable with.  Go with your gut feeling, and your child will thank you!

Our mission is to educate, support, and encourage our Members to become Financially Fit.

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