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Ultimate Guide to Retirement - September 8, 2014 by admin

planning retirementHow much should I save?

“As much as you can” is the standard advice. Many financial planners recommend that you save 10% to 15% of your income for retirement, starting in your 20s.

But that’s just a general guideline. This is your retirement we’re talking about, so it pays to get a little more specific by doing your homework up front. It’s a good idea to establish a savings target – one that tells you roughly how much you should set aside over time to meet your retirement goals.

The best way to determine your savings target is to use an online calculator like this one. It will help you figure out how much you should accumulate and how much you must set aside in the meantime to reach that target. Be sure to update the calculation each year, so that you can see if you’re on track.

As a general rule, you’ll need at least $15 to $20 in savings to cover each dollar of the annual shortfall between your income and your expenses. So for example if your projected retirement expenses exceed Social Security and pensions by $20,000 a year, you might need a nest egg of $300,000 to $400,000 to bridge the gap.

What if I can’t save enough?

Try to divert as much of your earnings into savings as you can. If you don’t have a budget, create one. If you do have a budget, revise it to reflect your newly urgent commitment to saving, as well as any changes in your spending since your last outbreak of budget fever. Chip away at wasteful habits – that might mean ditching expensive dinners or unused gym memberships.

If you’re still young and you can’t save enough right now, don’t be discouraged. Your income will probably grow as you progress in your career, allowing you to save more. You might also have other opportunities to boost your savings rate; for example, a bonus or inheritance can make a big difference in your long-term prospects if you invest some of the money in retirement accounts.

How can I reduce the amount I’ll need?

The most obvious way is to rethink your standard of living in retirement. Swapping the around-the-world sailing trip for a Caribbean cruise may help you lower your retirement target to a more attainable goal.

You can also delay your planned retirement date from, say, 62 to 68 or so. Working past the traditional retirement age will let you postpone withdrawals from your retirement accounts. Your savings will have more time to grow, and you’ll reduce the number of years you’ll need to draw on them. Working longer may also let you delay taking Social Security until you reach at least full retirement age (66 if you’re 50 today), potentially increasing the size of your monthly benefit by 30% or more.

The great thing about online retirement savings calculators is that you can play with the numbers to see exactly how much more or less you’ll need to save based on when you plan to stop working, or how much you’ll spend in retirement, or any number of other factors.

Working part-time can help too. But the problem is that you don’t know if you’ll have the interest or energy to work at an advanced age – or if you’ll have health problems that prevent it. You also may have a tough time finding an employer who wants to hire you in your later years for the amount of money you want to earn. So pinning your entire retirement strategy to working in your 70s or beyond isn’t such a great idea.

What if I’m running out of time?

If you find yourself running short on time – say, you’re in your 40s or even your 50s, and you haven’t gotten started yet – there are still a few things you can do. The key is to do themnow.

You should first max out your contributions to tax-favored retirement accounts like IRAs and 401(k)s. For 2012, the IRS allows $17,000 for a 401(k) (though your employer may impose lower limits), and $5,000 for traditional and Roth IRAs. If you’re over 50, you can contribute additional catch-up contributions. Even the government understands that this is crunch time, and it has devised a few ways to help you out.

For example, workers age 50 and older can put more money into IRAs and workplace retirement plans than younger savers can. That means you can and should contribute an additional $5,500 to a 401(k) and $1,000 to traditional and Roth IRAs.

If you’re arriving late to retirement planning, a traditional IRA may be a better choice than a Roth.

I’m saving a lot but will still fall short – what now?

Consider other alternatives that can reduce how much you need to save. The most obvious one: Think about delaying retirement by a few years. That strategy will allow you make more contributions to your retirement accounts while postponing withdrawals – which could significantly increase the size of your nest egg even as it reduces the amount you need to accumulate to make it through retirement.

For example, if you retire today at age 65 with $500,000 in retirement savings and withdraw $43,000 a year, your savings likely would last until you reached age 90. But if you delay retirement for another five years and max out your IRA contributions during that period, you would retire at 70 with $772,680 saved. That nest egg would let you withdraw $72,000 a year until age 90. (Calculations assume an 8% annual return on your investments.) So by delaying your retirement just five years, you can increase your retirement income by nearly $30,000 a year.

Getting a part-time job after you retire also can make a big financial difference – and can provide mental, physical and emotional benefits as well. Other options include trading down to a less-expensive home (you can invest the profits toward retirement), reining in your spending or transforming the equity in your home into income by taking out a reverse mortgage – though high costs mean this last option is a good idea for only a small number of retirees.

When can I retire?

Trying to figure out whether you can afford to retire is like putting together pieces of a financial jigsaw puzzle. First, you need to estimate how much you’ll spend in retirement. Then you must consider the income you’ll collect in retirement frompensions and Social Security – as well as the amount you can afford to draw from your personal savings or other sources.

The idea is to assemble the various pieces, and then see whether the picture of retirement life that emerges is acceptable to you.

To help bring the retirement picture into better focus, try plugging all your pertinent financial information – including pensions, Social Security, retirement investment accounts and anticipated retirement expenses – into an online calculator. The calculator can crunch all the numbers and assess your odds of being able to retire on the schedule you envision.

Revisit the calculator and all the different pieces of the puzzle each year, in order to make sure you remain on track.

H/T Source: CNN Money

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How to Save Money on Auto Insurance - September 1, 2014 by admin

We all need car insurance these days and what is more everybody loves saving money. So if we speak about an insurance you should understand that there are tons of opportunities to save money on auto insurance, you should only read the following tips and follow them.



Compare: Feel free to visit as many insurers as you want, because prices really differs. Numerous companies offer really significant discounts and quotes. This industry is very competitive and you have a huge assortment of companies to choose from.



Reputation: Always find everything you can about reputation of the company you would like to deal with. Ask questions, read reviews and pay attention to ratings.

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Higher deductibles: Try your best to opt for the highest deductible possible. A deductible is an amount that you pay when you get into a wreck or crash.

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Package: Pay attention to a package of insurances. I mean, many insurers offer package discounts if you carry both policies with them.

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Discounts: There are periodical, seasonal or holidays discounts. Most insurers offer a wide variety of discounts.

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Telematics: There are a growing number of insurance firms that are offering a “telematics” or “black box” insurance policy. This basically requires the driver to have a GPS device installed in the car to track how the vehicle is being driven. This actually helps to reduce the cost of car insurance and will continue to do so as long as the motorist drives well and safely. Sat Nav technology has revolutionized car insurance.



  • Find out if you qualify for any group plans. For example, if you are an alumnus of a college or university, or a member of a professional organization, you may qualify for an affinity discount or a special group plan with one or more insurance companies.
  • In the long run, it often doesn’t pay to switch insurance companies, especially if you do it a lot. Insurance rates may go up and down—usually up—each year, and if you switch companies for a lower rate you may find that your rates increase even higher at the next policy renewal. In addition, if you stick with a company for several years, you may become eligible for a “long-term” discount. Additionally, you may earn “accident forgiveness” as a long-term customer, so that if you get into an accident, your premiums won’t rise.
  • Make your child earn driving privileges by getting good grades. If you do allow your son or daughter to get a drivers license, insist he or she get good grades in school. The “good student” discount can save you up to 20% or more off the rate you pay for a child. A “B” average (3.0 GPA) is usually required to qualify.
  • Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion. Not sure if you need the coverage your agent advises you to have? Check with another agent or your attorney for advice.
  • Review your policy at each renewal. Make sure that all your discounts still apply, and check to see if you may be eligible for additional discounts. Sometimes discounts need to be certified each year(“good student” discounts, for example) and sometimes a computer glitch will accidentally drop a discount from your policy.
  • Keep your insurance policy up-to-date. A lot of variables affect your insurance rates. So, if your situation changes, you’ll want to make sure your policy reflects that. If you get married, if you’ve moved, if your commute to work has changed, or if you’ve installed a car alarm, for example, your rates may be reduced. Keep in mind, however, that if your commute is longer, or if you’ve moved to a neighborhood with higher loss rates, your price could go up.


  • Don’t lie to your insurance agent. Insurance companies check your accidents, tickets and some other information on a national database, so if your rates go up because of an accident, you can’t just switch to another company for a lower rate. If you lie to your insurance company or omit to tell them about something that affects the rate (a young driver in your household, for example,) this could be considered a “material misrepresentation” and any claim you make may be denied.
  • Do not exclude a driver from your policy unless you can be absolutely certain that he or she will never drive your vehicle. If the excluded driver gets into an accident, you will have no coverage and will be responsible for paying for your own repairs and any liability to others.
  • Never drive without insurance. Driving without insurance is illegal in almost all jurisdictions, and the fines and increased insurance costs can be staggering. If you get into an accident while uninsured you will have to pay out of pocket for any injuries or property damage you are responsible for.
  • Make sure you are adequately covered. While lowering your liability coverage limits or declining injury protection may save you money, the decision might be unwise. Many people don’t carry enough liability coverage as it is. Remember, if you’re liable for injuring someone, the medical costs could reach hundreds of thousands of dollars, and if you can’t pay those costs, you could be sued and have your wages garnished or your assets (including your home) taken. Discuss your coverage with your insurance agent or attorney, especially if you’re thinking of making any changes.
  • When it comes to buying insurance, deal with a reputable auto insurance firm. You can always check their Insurance Bureau rating before purchasing insurance from them, and you can find out about complaints (and file one, if necessary) by contacting your state’s insurance commissioner.

H/T Source: wikiHow

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Buy a New Car or a Used Car? - August 31, 2014 by admin

carThere’s nothing like that new-car smell. Buying a new car has a lot of allure: It’s brand new and it’s all yours; nobody has abused it. You can get the vehicle equipped just the way you want, and you get the full factory warranty. But hold on. Your best deal could well be a late-model used car.

The used-car market has changed dramatically in the past few years. To start with, today’s new cars — and thus used cars — are simply made better. Overall quality and durability has increased as U.S. manufacturers pushed hard to catch up to imports. A second factor is the rise of leasing.

New used-car superstore chains are also making it easier than ever to buy with huge inventories and no-haggle shopping. The kicker is that if you opt for a 3-year-old model instead, you could save as much as 30% to 40% over new.

In the last few years, car dealers, backed by manufacturers, have introduced what they call “certified” used-car programs for newer used cars (usually up to 3 years old). Manufacturers insist that a used car must pass a series of inspections before it can become certified. And once a car passes, the manufacturer adds a fresh warranty, sometimes 12 months or more.

If you want a used car, start by checking prices of the vehicles that interest you. Among the best websites areEdmunds.com and Kelley Blue Book’s KBB.com. Both are free, and both will let you check the going prices for almost every make, model and year you could want. (Both sites list new-car prices as well.)

Sites like Autotrader.com and Cars.com list classified ads for used cars, mostly from dealers. Enter your zip code and you’ll get a selection of cars within 100 miles or so of your home. While ads for these same vehicles undoubtedly also are running in your local paper, you get more detail online.

For those willing to venture farther from home, eBay Motors, part of the eBay auction site, lists used cars for sale. You can restrict your search to cars in your area, but you’ll probably do better by looking at cars all around the country. eBay provides various protections, as well as partnerships with used-car inspection services, to take some of the worry out of buying a used car entirely online. Read the eBay Motors “How to buy” page and see if you feel comfortable with the process.

Once you zero in on some possibilities, you need to double-check them. Unless you are buying a certified used vehicle, spend a little extra to check any specific car, truck or van you are close to buying.

First make sure the odometer is honest and that the car has never been totaled. (The used car business may have become less sleazy than it used to be, but problems still do occur.)

Firms like Carfax and Autocheck will track down the history of your prospective vehicle by its Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), usually listed on a metal plate just inside the windshield. If, for instance, the car had 50,000 miles when its title last changed but now shows 30,000 miles, take a pass. If the car has ever been sent to a junkyard, a salvage title will show up on the report. About one in 10 cars in its database has some kind of problem, say Carfax officials.

Once a car has passed those big hurdles, you still need to get it checked by your own mechanic, if you have one. If you don’t, many cities have specialized mechanic services that will make on-the-spot inspection of used cars. If you are considering spending $15,000 for a used car, that $100 to double-check it may be well spent.

If you’re buying on eBay Motors, they’ve got an auto inspection agreement with SGS Automotive. Sellers can have their car inspected and a report posted for potential buyers to see.

The most important thing to remember: Anything’s negotiable except the right to inspect. If the seller won’t let you and your mechanic inspect the car, walk away, no matter how nicely it runs.

Often, this rule of thumb means you’ll be buying from an individual rather than a dealer, for many dealers don’t allow inspections. Those who do typically won’t let you take the car off the premises and won’t let you use their lift.

Unless you have an unusually close relationship with your mechanic, he’ll want you to bring the car to his shop. This isn’t unreasonable, a lift is essential for hunting out rust, worn brake drums and deteriorating exhaust systems. However, a good mechanic can tell a lot from sliding underneath the car, inspecting the exterior paint for repaired body damage, and checking the odometer reading against actual wear.

Confining your search to individuals usually means you’ll get a lower price — but it’s more time-consuming because there’s only one car at each location. Regardless of where you buy, there are some rules you can follow.

Jack Gillis, director of public affairs for the Consumer Federation of America, recommends what he calls the “touch and comment” technique often used by new-car dealers when they inspect trade-ins. “When you review the car, visibly point out the various problems that you note,” he says. “An exaggerated touch of some loose parts or running your hand along body damage can put the seller in a defensive position.”

This tactic can be used effectively when your mechanic is conducting an inspection within earshot of the seller. Have your mechanic mention each problem, allowing you to comment grimly.

Having your expert on hand can make all the difference, because even if you know a lot about cars, you need an expert witness to present the damning evidence. Like any expert witness,mechanics must be paid. Some shops offer a pre-purchase checkout for a set amount that can vary widely depending on the shop and the procedures performed. Others offer on-premises inspections for their hourly labor rate, which can range from $40 to $70 an hour, depending on the region and the type of shop.

While indispensable, your mechanic is your consultant, not your agent. To get the best possible deal on a used car, you must do some work yourself. Some pointers:

– Before going to look at cars, peruse the Official Used Car Guide of the National Automobile Dealers’ Association. It lists recent prices fetched by specific year models in your region. The range between the trade-in value and retail value is your room to maneuver. If you can buy a decent car from a dealer for less than its NADA book trade-in value, more power to you.

– If the seller touts the car as an immaculate jewel, be sure to negotiate an acceptable price before bringing in your mechanic. Failing to do so could leave you with no bargaining leverage if the car actually is in great shape. Make sure the seller understands that the agreed-on price is entirely contingent on the vehicle making Phi Beta Kappa. Once your technician determines the car’s shortcomings — and there are few used cars on the market without any — it’s your job to put a generous price on each repair needed. After all, you intone, the initial figure was based on perfection.

– Before buying, try to arrange a test drive at night and another on a rainy day. Nothing reveals a cheap windshield like oncoming headlights, and a replacement windshield may mean the car’s been wrecked and then given a convincing paint job. Also, it’s impossible to know if trunk and door seals are leaking except when it’s raining. Again, leaking seals may mean that the car’s been wrecked, especially on a car only a few years old.

There is a point at which too many glitches should eliminate the car from consideration. Says automotive author Mortz Schultz: “If you find a major problem, or if you rack up enough minor ones, forget the car.”

In return for your rigors, do you get an absolute assurance that you won’t regret the purchase? Of course not. It’s still a used car, after all. Buyers must accept the occasional ping, ding or rattle. But if your mechanic is competent, and you negotiate adroitly, you can get a great vehicle for a substantially lowered price.

If you decide, however, that you really want a new car, you have a different choice to make: Should you buy or lease?

H/T Source: CNN Money

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Identity Theft & Credit Card Fraud – How to Protect Yourself - August 25, 2014 by WWFCU

ID-TheftIdentity theft occurs when someone obtains your personal information, such as your credit card data or Social Security number, to commit fraud or other crimes. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that 9 million Americans suffer identity theft annually. It sounds like a big number, but it isn’t.

For one, the hysteria has been stoked by much-publicized data breaches. In reality, identity theft only touches a sliver of the U.S. population each year (about 3%). One-quarter of those cases are credit-card fraud and not full-blown identity theft, according to FTC figures. The credit-card fraud occurs when a thief uses your credit card to make purchases. More serious is when someone uses your information to open accounts or take loans in your name. That’s when you’ll have to fight to get your credit restored and your name cleared, an arduous process that can take months or years to complete.

In response to concerns over identity theft, numerous companies and financial institutions have stepped in with products that monitor your credit, reimburse you for lost wages or funds and guard your identity. Some employers also now offer ID theft insurance to help you reduce the amount of time and money spent resolving the crime, so check with your company’s benefits specialist about your eligibility.

Do You Need Identity Theft Protection? Before examining the services available, try these common-sense, no-cost measures to protect against identity theft and fraud:

Guard your information online. These days, many of us do most of our shopping and banking on the web. With all those account numbers and passwords floating around, it’s easy for someone to nab your information and go on a spree.

• Clear your logins and passwords. This is especially important if you’ve been working on a public computer. Change logins and passwords monthly.

• Pay for online purchases with your credit card, which has better guarantees under federal law than your online payment services or your debit card.

• Be alert for phishing, a trick in which spam or pop-ups mimic legitimate banks or businesses to obtain your personal information, which they use to access your accounts. Always verify that you’re on a familiar Web site with security controls before entering personal data.

Monitor your bank and credit card statements. Check your accounts regularly so you know when something’s awry. Purchases you didn’t make should be obvious—like a gas fill-up halfway across the country.

Verify your mailing address with the post office and financial institutions.Identity bandits may fill out change of address forms so that delinquent credit notices remain off your paper billing radar.

Monitor your credit report. By law, you’re entitled to a free report every year from each of the three bureaus (EquifaxExperian, and TransUnion). Request one every four months, changing bureaus each time. You can order the report directly through each agency, or at annualcreditreport.com. Use this URL—there are hordes of knockoff sites that will try to charge you for your report and other needless services. Scan it for abnormal activity, such as accounts or credit cards you didn’t open. (And don’t fall prey to faux free credit report advertisements.)

Shred sensitive documents. Buy a shredder and regularly shred outdated bank statements, credit card applications, bills, and anything with your personal information before tossing it into the trash or recycling. Junk mail often includes some of your personal details.

Does it make sense to pay for ID theft protection if you’ve taken all these precautions? It depends on your spending habits and overall level of caution. You might want to invest in an identity theft protection service if:

• You do lots of online banking or shopping. • You don’t have time to monitor your information on your own. • The thought of investing time and money into recovering from an identity theft sickens you.

Picking the Right Service Before you spring for identity theft protection, which, at a minimum, is likely to set you back at least $150 a year, consider the no-cost measures you can take to protect yourself. Remember, despite the hype, the odds of having your identity swiped are actually quite low. And no identity theft protection is bulletproof, so consider these factors before you buy.

First, decide whether you’d like to purchase the services of a dedicated identity theft protection firm or one of the products offered by your bank or insurer. Many banks now offer customers daily credit checks that alert them to fishy activity in their accounts. Some will also provide insurance to repay lost wages or legal fees incurred as a result of identity theft or fraud. Other plans assign you a caseworker to help restore your credit. You can also try to bundle identity theft insurance with your home or auto coverage. Be wary of this kind of insurance, however — these policies can be riddled with exclusions that may prevent you from ever collecting in the event of theft.

Then there are the specialty companies—LifeLock and TrustedID are two of the most prominent—that market themselves as identity theft protection experts. These companies offer a mix of preventive and reactive tools to maintain your identity and credit, the most common being fraud alerts and credit freezes.

Fraud alerts. Some identity-theft protectors will immediately place fraud alerts on your files with the three main credit bureaus, whether you’ve been victimized or not. In essence, it forces any bank or credit agency to balk before approving credit requests in your name. It’s not foolproof, though. The law only requires the creditor to take reasonable precautions before extending credit. This may only be a speed bump for a practiced thief, so don’t consider it a guarantee that your identity won’t be swiped.

Credit freezes. Freezes are far more effective than alerts. Icing your files prevents any company from accessing your credit unless you already do business with them, effectively sealing your records against any new creditor. Freezes can be a pain if you’re seeking a mortgage or student loan—or any form of credit. You’ll have to contact the bureaus to unfreeze your records, which can take up to three days. Plus, the credit bureaus normally charge a small fee whenever you freeze and unfreeze your files. Credit freeze rules vary by state.

Alerts and freezes are two measures you can take yourself, so consider whether you want to pay a company to do it for you.

If you’ve detected fraudulent activity, notify the financial institution where the fraudulent activity occurred first so they can freeze your account. Depending on the situation, you’ll need to file a complaint with the FTC and your local police department, as well as investigate all of your other accounts. And keep a vigilant eye on that credit report.

H/T Source: The Wall Street Journal

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Retirement Savings: No Excuses - August 18, 2014 by WWFCU

Retirement-ExcusesThe list of excuses for why it’s impossible to save for retirement is endless. Some people may be just getting started in their careers, making small starting salaries. Others may be stay-at-home parents with no earned income. Everyone is juggling a plethora of different financial goals, of which retirement is just one. And those who are midway through their careers and who have procrastinated signing up for their workplace retirement plans may be wondering if there’s any point at all to begin saving now.

The fact is, the best time to save for retirement is right now, no matter what your personality traits are or where you are in the continuum of your career. Bankrate consulted financial experts who offer some tips on how to make it happen. Their advice will help you get motivated, so one day you can make a seamless transition from the 9-to-5 workday world to a retirement where you can call the shots on how to spend your time and money.

RetirementDon’t ever think you’re too young to save for retirement. As a new worker, “entry-level Emily” has something far more valuable than her experienced superiors: time. A 25-year-old worker who saves $5,000 a year throughout her career will amass nearly $1.3 million by the time she’s 65, assuming 8 percent annual growth. If she waits until age 35 to save, she’ll accumulate less than half that amount — $566,416 — assuming the same return.

Bottom line: If you’re just starting your career, don’t walk to open a retirement account. RUN.

Grab free money. Have access to a 401(k)? Save enough to qualify for your employer’s matching funds. That’s typically 50 cents for every dollar you save, up to 6 percent of earnings.

Automate your savings. If you don’t have a 401(k) plan at work, set up direct deposits into an individual retirement account at a brokerage firm before you spend your whole paycheck.

Go for growth. “An entry-level worker should put 100 percent of their retirement fund in equities,” says CFP professional Drew Tignanelli, president of Financial Consulate in Hunt Valley, Md. The reason: Stocks grow more over time, and you’re young enough to ride out dips in the market.

Rough it. Saving early is potentially worth millions, so make sacrifices now. “Keep eating ramen noodles, and save like crazy until you’re 30,” says Rick Kahler, president of Kahler Financial Group in Rapid City, S.D. “Then you can look at upping your lifestyle.”

3-stay-at-homeEven if “stay-at-home Sally” has no earnings, she can still save for retirement. Meetings and commutes may be distant memories for her, but retirement planning shouldn’t be.

“Somebody at home is more preoccupied with the here and now — a child, an ailing parent and so forth,” says Eleanor Blayney, consumer advocate for the CFP Board. “At-home spouses have to make a concerted attempt to keep retirement front and center.”

Open a spousal IRA. Your working spouse can make yearly contributions on your behalf — up to $5,500 in 2014, or $6,500 if you’re older than 50 — as long as he or she earns enough to cover the contribution. That adds up: Save $5,500 for, say, 10 years. After another 20 years, you’ll have $294,059 if your money grows at 7 percent.

Keep saving. Spouses can gift unlimited amounts to each other. Save these gifts in an account that’s specifically dedicated to your retirement. “It’s harder to spend … if it’s labeled,” says Blayney.

Guard against mishaps. A workplace life insurance plan may not be enough in the event you’re suddenly widowed. Get extra coverage. Find a quote for term policies at Bankrate’s insurance center.

Stay employable. You’re home today, but keep ties to your profession. Network. Update skills. “Don’t go completely fallow,” says Blayney. “Prepare.”

juggling-financesPay yourself first.

“Juggling Jerry” has heard that before, but what about the credit cards, the children’s college education and those vacation plans?

When it comes to juggling finances, we often put our futures dead last. “I can tell you story after story of people who blew their chance to save for retirement,” says Tignanelli.

It’s time to reprioritize.

Set a goal. Just 46 percent of workers have attempted to calculate how much they will need for retirement, according to the latest Retirement Confidence Survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, or EBRI. But without a goal, it’s impossible to know how much to save — and what’s left over for other things. Set a target.

Kill the bills. Debts cost more than what you’re likely to earn with savings or investments. Experts generally agree it’s important to be debt-free before investing. The exception: If you have a 401(k) or 403(b), save enough to qualify for matching funds as you pay off bills. “You don’t want to leave free money,” says Philip Lee, a wealth manager at Modera Wealth Management in Boston.

Maximize savings. If you have catching up to do, fund up to the maximum allowable limits. In 2014, that’s up to $17,500 in a 401(k), plus another $5,500 if you’re 50 or older.

Now juggle. Once you’re on track for retirement, you can start saving for your kids’ college and that fun vacation.

procrastinate“Procrastinating Pete” is not alone. Nearly 3 out of 10 retirees say they didn’t start planning for retirement until they were within 10 to 19 years of retiring, according to EBRI’s 2013 Retirement Confidence Survey.

No matter how far behind you are, don’t give up. Instead, buckle down — pronto.

Increase savings. This year, you can save up to $17,500 in a 401(k), plus $5,500 more if you’re at least 50, for a total of $23,000. In addition, IRA contribution limits are $5,500 ($6,500 for those 50-plus). If you’re 50-plus and you maximize contributions for both the IRA and workplace plan, you can amass more than $1 million in 20 years, assuming a 6 percent annualized return.

Save smarter. A Roth IRA is often a great option for late starters because you can leave assets in them as long as you like. Plus, when you do withdraw new earnings after the account has been open five years and you’re 59 1/2, the money is tax- and penalty-free.

Consider converting. If you have an IRA, you can convert it into a Roth IRA, but you’ll pay taxes. Is it worth it? It may be if you have at least 20 years before retirement.

Delay Social Security. You can start collecting Social Security as early as 62, but it pays to wait. A monthly Social Security benefit worth $1,000 when you’re at full retirement age will be reduced to $750 if you collect at 62. Wait until you’re 70, however, and you’ll get $1,320.

super-organized“Super-organized Stan” worked hard and managed to save for retirement. What else is there for him to do?

Plenty. “People save without a plan,” says Bill Baldwin, president of Pillar Financial Advisors in Waltham, Mass. “They do helter-skelter planning.”

Calculate. Sure, you’ve amassed “a lot.” But is it enough? It’s great if you’re among those who have calculated their income needs in retirement. If you haven’t calculated your needs yet, try using a retirement calculator, for starters.

Get expert feedback. When you have $100,000 to $200,000, it’s probably time for some professional guidance. Opt for a fee-only planner who doesn’t earn a commission by selling financial products. A good resource is the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors at NAPFA.org.

Take stock. Excessive fees, lackluster returns or unbalanced portfolios can undermine your efforts. Do a financial review annually to make sure you’re saving smart. Tactical asset allocation funds, which are actively managed, or periodically rebalanced strategic asset allocation funds can get you the right mix without the hassle of micromanaging your investments.

Remember heirs and insurance. Your annual retirement review should include a look at all of your paperwork. Are beneficiary forms current? If not, you may end up leaving that annuity to your ex-husband. You should also consider getting long-term care insurance.

H/T Source: Bankrate, Inc.

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10 Ways to Save Money on Auto Insurance - August 12, 2014 by WWFCU

How to Lower Your Auto Insurance Rates without Sacrificing Coverage or Service in the Process

top-10-ways-to-save-on-car-insuranceLet’s face it. We all like to save money, especially when it comes to auto insurance. But does lowering your insurance premiums mean less-than-adequate coverage or working with a provider whose customer service leaves a lot to be desired? Not at all. We’ve put together a variety of suggestions to help you save money on auto insurance without sacrificing quality in the process.

Consider car insurance costs before you buy

When it comes to buying a new or used car, many people overlook insurance expense as part of the total cost of owning a vehicle. It’s better to consider the cost of insurance before you buy since auto insurance premiums vary widely depending on a vehicle’s specific characteristics, including its price, average repair costs, safety record and whether or not it’s a target among thieves.

Combine insurance policies with one carrier

Many insurance companies offer multi-policy discounts, such as buying a homeowners policy and auto coverage from the same carrier. You might also be able to save money if you insure all of the vehicles in your household on one policy or if you insure all of your driving-age family members on the same plan. Be sure to do your homework though, since there’s a chance you could save more money buying policies from multiple carriers.

Compare auto insurance carriers

Because auto insurance companies and rates vary widely, it helps to shop around when selecting an insurer. As a general rule, it’s wise to obtain auto insurance quotes and information from at least three separate companies. Calling insurance carriers directly, asking family and friends about their insurance providers and getting an auto insurance quote online are just some of the steps you can take in helping to ensure you choose the right auto insurance company.

Another helpful resource is your state’s department of insurance, which typically offers information such as rate comparisons, customer ratings and complaint ratios, as well as contact information for a variety of major carriers.

Don’t forget you’ll be dealing with your auto insurer in the event of an accident or emergency, so be sure to select a company that’s committed to customer service. Do your homework ahead of time by comparing ratings and researching complaints to ensure a company handles claims — and answers questions — honestly and promptly.

Drive less, save more

The more you drive, the higher the likelihood of an accident or emergency. That’s why many auto insurance companies offer low mileage discounts for people who drive less than the average number of miles per year, or for people who carpool on a regular basis. Be sure to ask your carrier if you qualify.

Drive safer, save more

The better you are as a driver, the more money you stand to save in coverage costs. People with clean driving records who haven’t had any accidents or moving violations for a certain number of years can qualify for safe driver discounts. What’s more, you may be able to take advantage of additional savings if you’ve recently taken a defensive driving course.

Increase your deductible

Sure, you’ll have to pay more out of pocket if you have an accident, but if you increase your deductible by just several hundred dollars, for example, you could save anywhere from 15 to 40 percent or more in collision and comprehensive coverage costs. It’s always good practice to set aside a portion of your monthly car insurance premium savings to ensure you can actually afford a higher deductible in the event of a claim. Learn more about how much, and what kind, of auto insurance you need.

Inquire about other car insurance discounts

There are a variety of additional car insurance savings you might be able to take advantage of, including discounts for teens who have good grades or who have taken an approved drivers’ education course, for college-age drivers who go to school more than 100 miles away, for people who are over the age of 50/55 or those who are retired, or for people who belong to business groups, alumni groups or other professional associations. You can also save money on auto insurance if a group plan is offered at your place of employment. When it comes to discounts, be careful. An insurance company that offers huge discounts might charge the highest rates to begin with, so be sure to do your homework thoroughly before signing on the dotted line.

Maintain good credit

In the eyes of auto insurance carriers, drivers with established and stable credit records have fewer accidents. That’s why an increasing number of auto insurance companies consider credit scores when calculating rates. Since your credit score can impact the amount of money you pay in auto insurance, be sure to maintain a good credit rating and check your credit report periodically to ensure the items in your history actually belong to you. There are a variety of online services that allow you to check your credit as well as those that offer advice about how to improve it.

Opt for safety features

You can qualify for a car insurance discount from many carriers if your vehicle is equipped with safety equipment designed to reduce the risk of injury or theft, such as antilock brakes, automatic seatbelts, running lights or an alarm system.

Reduce insurance coverage on older cars

If you own an older vehicle, check its Kelley Blue Book value. If your annual comprehensive/collision insurance premiums are more than 10 percent of the current value of your car, consider dropping the coverage. Claims only occur an average of every 11 years, so there’s a good chance any claim payment you might receive down the road could be less than the comprehensive/collision premiums you’d paid.

While not exhaustive, this list gives you a good start in saving money on auto insurance. Keep in mind that the key to saving on auto insurance is about finding the best final price, not the biggest discounts. You may find that a company offering the least amount of discounts still offers the lowest auto insurance rates.

H/T Source: Kelley Blue Book Co.

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Nine Tips for Protecting the Identity of Your Child at Back-to-School Time - August 5, 2014 by WWFCU

As you’ve prepared to send your child back to school this fall, you’ve likely been hit with a mountain of paperwork for class enrollment, youth sports, and other after-school activities. But as you share your child’s personal information with teachers and administrators, carefully consider how and why the information will be used in order to protect against identity theft.

Because children have a blank slate with no debt or credit history, their personal information is especially valuable to identity thieves.

According to the 2012 Child Identity Fraud Survey conducted by Javelin Strategy & Research and sponsored by the Identity Theft Assistance Center, one in 40 households with children under the age of 18 had at least one child whose personal information was compromised by identity theft.

Even though the number of reported child identity theft cases has increased significantly in recent years, more than 80 percent of parents with minor children say they are largely unfamiliar with child identity theft, according to a third-party study commissioned by Equifax.

  1. Before you start filling out forms for your child during the back-to-school rush, consider these nine identity theft protection tips:
  2. If you are asked to provide your child’s Social Security number, ask why the number is needed, if there is another way to identify your child, and how your child’s information will be protected.
  3. Only carry your child’s Social Security card, birth certificate, or passport when absolutely necessary.
  4. Do not provide your child’s Social Security number—or any part of it, like the last four digits—over the phone, online, or in person unless you have initiated the contact.
  5. Lock birth certificates and other documents with your child’s Social Security number in a secure location.
  6. Dispose of any trash containing your child’s personal information with a crosscut shredder. If old documents with sensitive information have piled up, consider attending a local shredding event, where residents can bring their documents to shred in bulk.
  7. Talk with your child about identity theft at the earliest possible opportunity, and create a safe environment with open dialogue so your child feels comfortable asking questions and sharing concerns.
  8. Never use your child’s Social Security number to open accounts for yourself. Opening an account with your child’s information and then not paying bills on time could prevent your child from getting credit cards, student loans, an apartment, or a job once he or she turns 18.
  9. Back-to-school time could also put you at risk of identity theft if you are sharing your own information. If your child’s school asks for your personally identifiable information as proof of residency, consider asking if the requirement is optional. You may also want to ask if it’s acceptable to provide a utility bill instead of tax information or mortgage documents, as these documents may contain sensitive personal details.
  10. Consider a credit monitoring and identity theft protection product that covers your entire family.

Child identity theft can be difficult to detect, and it may go undiscovered until your child goes to rent his or her first apartment or apply for student loans or a credit card. Because it can take years for a child’s identity to be restored once it has been compromised, it’s important to protect your children and family now. Remember to keep personal information safe during the hustle and bustle this fall.

Article Written By: Ilyce Glink

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Tips on Getting a Used Auto Loan with Bad Credit - June 2, 2014 by admin

used-carMore and more people are coming to realize the benefits of buying a used car. If you’ve decided the same, you have definitely made a smart decision. The fact of the matter is you can purchase a car that is almost as good as a brand-new one and save up to 50% off the original price. Even cars less than two years old can be up to 30% cheaper than new cars.

Obviously, there are other reasons to buy a used car: save money on insurance, certified used cars are available, traceable history, and typically a less stressful negotiation process. In order to buy used cars, many drivers choose to apply for a used auto loan. However, there is one thing that might prevent them from buying the car of their dreams – bad credit. With a bad credit, your options as a potential buyer are greatly limited, as most banks and traditional finance companies prefer to help out only those with a good credit score.

The good news is that Wayne Westland Federal Credit Union can help you finance your next car purchase. Here, you can easily apply for a loan and get the best deals. If you also get pre-approved, you have even more chances to find a great deal. In order to buy a used car with bad credit and save as much as possible, there are some things you can do.

Optimize your Credit Score

First of all, you can take some practical steps to improve your credit score. Order your credit reports from all three credit bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. Next, verify that all information is accurate. It is not unusual for these credit agencies to make mistakes that could hurt your credit rating. Additionally, make sure to pay off small judgments and past-due accounts. Nothing can impact your credit score more than nominal reports. Lastly, ensure that you wait at least 6 months after cleaning up your credit report before applying for your loan.

Prepare a Budget

Another practical step you can do to get the best deal on a used auto loan is to set up a budget. List all your expenses and revenues and then compare these two. This way, you will know whether you can afford a loan. Otherwise, you might endanger yourself and your credit.

Save For a Down Payment

If you have bad credit, it is quite difficult to get a loan approved. However, if you can put down at least 10% of the car’s value, you might get a much better deal.

Negotiate the Price

Once you find a nice used car that meets your needs, sit down with the manager or with the salesperson and negotiate the price. If you are good at negotiating, you just might save up to 10% of the original price.

The Bottom Line

Used auto loans are becoming increasingly popular nowadays. If you live, work, or worhsip in Westland or Wayne, MI, and you need a used auto loan for your next purchase, do not hesitate to contact Wayne Westland Federal Credit Union.

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Auto Loan Financing - May 21, 2014 by admin

New-CarThe decision to buy a new car will probably be one of the most important financial milestones in your life. In addition to the investment of money, you will spend a great deal of time looking for the right vehicle that caters to your needs. Similarly, you also need to spend time when looking for auto loans. You need to choose the right auto financing option in order to get the peace of mind that your investment is being cared for in a professional manner.

Some of the benefits of working with a professional& experienced auto loan organization that offers online auto loans are:

* All the Information you Need: a huge plus of shopping for an auto loan is the large amount of information posted on official websites. This information should be sufficient to help any member decide which option is the best for him or her. From household budget tools to credit score information and loan calculators, all of this online information can be a game-changer for many buyers.

* Easy Quotes: customers looking for automotive financing options in Westland and Wayne, Michigan can easily find the best deals online. Traditionally, it takes a lot of time to call each and every lender and ask for a quote. Thanks to technological advancements, you can easily enter Google and check for “financing options in Westland” or “car loans in Westland” and find the best deals for you.

You can start shopping having a particular price in mind. After you figure out what kind of payments you are able to make on a monthly basis and you research the cars available for you, you should be able to decide how much money you need to borrow. Next, you should look for a well-established Credit Union that offers reasonable monthly payments and interest rates. Most big lenders and major financial institutions have higher interest rates and strict rules, so try to stay away from them.

* More Bargaining Power with the Car Dealers: lastly, you have more control of the negotiation process. Armed with a pre-approval for your car loan, you have more bargaining chips at your disposal, so you can save even more money when looking for a new car. Of course, you will also save money on gas, because you won’t have to physically drive around town to find the best deal out there.

The Bottom Line

A professional, experienced and well-established Credit Union can offer you peace of mind and can help you save money when shopping for auto loans online. Wayne Westland Federal Credit Union offers reliable and affordable auto loans services in Westland and Wayne, MI. Do not hesitate to leverage our experience and expertise and let us give you the best possible deal on exactly what you want.

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First Impressions Count with a Used Car - April 28, 2014 by WWFCU

Car For SaleJust as with selling a house, first impressions count when selling your car. It can even make or break a deal. If you’re planning to sell your car, help it make a good first impression on potential buyers. Here’s how:

  • Clean it up. Going to the car wash may not be enough. Make sure the interior is immaculate as well, including the windows, dash, and floors. Keep the ashtray clean. Consider having the car detailed if necessary.
  • Lose the junk. Make sure all your personal items are removed before a prospective buyer hops in. Beyond the obvious removal of fast food bags, candy wrappers, and pop cans, take out your CDs, the umbrella tucked under the seat and the emergency change of clothes you keep in the back seat.
  • Take a whiff. Make sure your car doesn’t smell like a used car! Smoke, food and pet odors can quickly turn off a potential buyer.
  • Don’t forget the little things. Check the exterior carefully for dents and scratches. Many hardware stores sell products to quickly fix minor cosmetic imperfections. Check the lower half of the car and wash off dirt that accumulates on the tires or sides of the car. Make sure the chrome is shiny.
  • Keep it clean. Once you’ve made your car look great, don’t forget to keep it looking great. Wash it again as often as necessary and keep out the clutter.

While a great first impression of your car isn’t a guarantee of the sale, it is the first step in turning a casual looker into a serious buyer.

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