A couple of years ago, we received a lot of money as a Christmas gift from our parents. That gift shocked us because we weren’t expecting that extra income. Adrenaline started running through my body as I thought of what we could do with this money. We were saving for a car, so that’s where we used it. Having a goal helped me calm down. It was great to know where to spend the money so we didn’t regret how we spent it. Even though the timing of bonuses, gifts, or inheritances is often unexpected, you can plan how to spend the extra income when you receive it.
I think all of us would like extra income, but do you know how you would spent it? Would you save it for retirement? Would you spend it on a vacation or a purchase? Would you pay down debt? It’s good to think about this ahead of time so that you know how you would spend extra income.
When Ty changed jobs in November, all of his accrued vacation pay was paid out to him from his previous employer. We didn’t expect that he would change jobs and receive all that money at once. We hadn’t been able to save for Christmas throughout the year, and we were considering using some of our emergency fund for Christmas. When he received that extra income, we paid for Christmas. I was glad that we didn’t have to use emergency fund money because I don’t consider Christmas an emergency, but we weren’t sure how we were going to pay for it.
I have noticed that unexpected income is often followed by an expense. Have you noticed this? Maybe you received a gift and then the washer broke. I have seen this happen enough times in my life and in the lives of others to see a correlation. A few years ago, my friend and I discussed this and how it can feel discouraging. She had learned to appreciate that money comes when you need it. I decided that I wouldn’t let myself be discouraged anymore when this happened. She helped me to learn to be grateful for extra income even if it needs to be used for bills.
After my family had saved an emergency fund, the unexpected repair expenses didn’t use the extra income anymore. I really don’t like to spend our emergency fund - just ask my husband. He teases me about having an emergency fund that I "won’t use even for an emergency.” I reply, “If I spend it, I won’t have it for an emergency!” Anyway, I might still choose to use extra income for an unexpected expense, but having an emergency fund gives me options to pick which money to use.
The purpose of this blog is to help you reach your financial peak. Each week I’ll give you a financial exercise to do. This week’s exercise was fun for me. I hope you will do it! And, I hope you enjoy it. I want you to make a wish list. Prioritize from the most important or most urgent financial goal down to the least urgent goal.
Here is my Extra Income Wish-List:
I often say that we can’t buy everything that we want, but we can do anything. Staying focused is challenging for me. This exercise helped me define what I would do with extra income. Now, I’m ready for unexpected and extra income. It’s welcome anytime!
Because March is Women's History Month, we're taking a moment to reflect on many of the important contributions women have made to society. At Wasatch Peaks Credit Union, we're proud to be a part of the nationwide celebration of women.
As part of this effort, we'd like to take time to recognize a few important women in the history of finance and entrepreneurship. Here are five lesser-known and underappreciated women who are sometimes left out of the popular economics conversation. That, of course, does not diminish the importance of their trailblazing efforts and work.
Maggie Lena Walker was the first woman to charter a bank. The St. Luke's Penny Savings Bank was a community lending institution designed to promote savings and homeownership, especially among women and racial minorities. Founded in 1902, the bank served the Richmond, Virginia area for several years before it merged with two other banks. Walker went on to serve as chair of the board for the consolidated bank.
By 1920, St. Luke's had helped more than 600 people buy homes. Walker's vision and leadership set the standard for community lending institutions. Her bravery and trailblazing business spirit, at a time when women didn't yet have the right to vote, is truly commendable.
While few museums will showcase her work, nearly all of them have some modern iteration of the device Marie Van Brittan Brown pioneered. She was the original architect of the home security system. Her system was devised in response to the dangers she perceived in her own neighborhood.
Concerned about the length of time it would take police to respond to a call for help, Brown put a camera on a mobile swivel to enable it to view the front door through each of four peepholes. A motion sensor triggered a recording device, and the system also enabled the homeowner to view and listen to the cameras by using a television set. Brown's original home security system soon caught on in businesses around the country. She was given an award from the National Science Committee for her work.
These two pioneering sisters broke the gender barrier on Wall Street. They ran the first female-owned brokerage. Despite the blatant sexism they faced in their struggle, the two sisters made millions advising clients like Cornelius Vanderbilt. While enduring headlines like "Wall Street Aroused," the two sisters quietly made enough money to put their male counterparts to shame.
Woodhall would go on to be a polarizing figure in the suffrage movement. She made the first recorded run for president as a woman, doing so a full 50 years before women were legally allowed to vote! While her suffrage-based platform didn't carry the election, her intellect and force of persuasion were instrumental to the passage of the 19th Amendment.
Rosemary McFadden broke another gender barrier in finance. She was the first woman to serve as president of any American exchange. Starting her career as a staff attorney for the New York Mercantile Exchange, she climbed the career ladder to become the first female president of that organization or any other trading exchange in American history in 1984.
Despite the steep resistance she encountered as the first woman in a traditionally male position, McFadden was a strong and effective leader. When her term was up, she continued to climb towards greatness. She now serves as deputy mayor of Jersey City, New Jersey.
The wife of President John Adams is mostly noted for her documentation of the home front of the Revolutionary War and for her strident advocacy for women's rights in the early years of the country's founding. A little-known tidbit, though, is that she's also America's first documented female investor.
Adams managed the financial affairs for the household while her husband served in war and, later, in the White House. She was quite a shrewd woman, making a great deal of money investing in government bonds. In one exchange in 1783, her husband advised her to invest some money in farmland. She ignored the advice, buying bonds instead. The move made her family quite a bit more money in the long run!
What influential women in your life would you like to honor this month? Let us know in the comments about the women that have played a big part in shaping who you are!
My 4-year-old has been warning me, “If you don’t wear green, you’re going to get pinched on St. Patrick’s Day.” Similarly, if we don’t pay attention to our finances, we can experience stress and pain. I hope that we can all be successful financially. Very few people have a chance at winning a fortune, but we can all build one. Succeeding financially doesn’t depend on luck.
I’ve been thinking about being lucky. On Saturday, my daughter went with her grandma to see a friend’s new house. She came home and told me how lucky those kids were, “They had their own room, tablets, a movie theater, and a playroom.” I agreed that they were lucky and then asked my daughter, "Are you also lucky?" After thinking, she said, “Maybe.”
That same day I had walked through my friend’s beautiful brand new house, but I know it wasn’t due to luck. My friend and her husband have worked and continue to work very hard.
How do you define financial success? If we never define it, then we’ll never know when we’ve achieved it, and we can chase other people’s definitions of success. I think this is very important because financial success is individual. You don’t have to be a billionaire to be financially successful. What do you need? What’s your purpose? Money is a tool that helps you fulfill your purpose. It’s not the purpose.
Irecently watched Letters, which is a movie about Mother Teresa. In one of the scenes, she was offered a room that more than she needed. She asked the landlord to just leave the bed & desk and take out the rest of the furniture. She knew her purpose and was successful in my opinion. She didn’t need a million dollars to fulfill her purpose. In fact, money seemed to detract from her purpose.
Depending on your purpose, you might need a million dollars and that’s okay too, but it is individual.
It is super cool to me that you don’t have to make a lot of money in order to accumulate a lot of money and to obtain financial freedom. My grandparents told me a story about their neighbor. He was a mechanic who lived financial principles. He ended up saving a lot of money. He didn’t look like he had money - financially, some people look better than they are and others are better than they look. He went into a car dealership and wasn’t treated well because the salesman assumed that this man didn’t have much money. He left and went to a competing car dealership and paid cash for a new car. I have known people like this man who have inspired me to live financial principles.
What financial principles did they live?
The character that you build is part of the success. While swimming this weekend, I thought about dedicated Olympians. As I jumped into the pool at 5 am on Saturday morning, I admired the dedication that they show to practice every day. They work so hard and sacrifice so much to be able to achieve swimming success as an Olympian.
How many people do you know became successful by chance? I can’t think of one Olympian that did. How about financially speaking? I don’t know anyone that succeeded financially without working at it.
My husband has been swimming for the past few months and is feeling frustrated about not progressing faster. He told me that he has to rest so often. I suggested that he keep swimming. I haven’t seen daily progress in my swimming ability, but over the years I have become a much better swimmer than I was 8 years ago when I started. Finances are like swimming. It takes time and practice to see progress.
When it comes to finances, there are some factors that we can’t control, but there are also so many that we can. We don’t have to leave our finances up to luck!
It's spring break season! In a few weeks, college campuses will empty out and highways will fill up with students blowing off a semester's worth of steam while road tripping to great vacation destinations. For many students, this might be the first time they've taken a vacation without parents to help plan (and pay for) it. For a newbie, it can be quite a challenge.
Worry not, road warrior! Here are a few ways you can save some money on your next four-wheeled adventure. Try these three savings tips!
If there's one rule of financially savvy vacationing, it's this one: Make a budget before you hit the road. It can be easy to justify an ever-ballooning budget. A few dollars here and there can quickly turn into one big expense, and it's one you could be paying for long after the semester's over.
Instead, take control of your spending by giving yourself a realistic goal of how much you'll spend. If you end up a few dollars over, you can make up the difference much easier than if you were to later find out you massively overspent. Making a budget also gives you an idea of how much you need to save between now and the start of your grand adventure.
Gas station food might be an attractive option after you've spent all day on the road, but it's not always the best plan. In addition to the cost, such food is generally fried and unhealthy. You probably don't want to spend the first few days of a great vacation sweating off a pound of fried cheese! Beyond the food, spending money on bottled beverages can do some quick damage to your budget.
As much as possible, prepare your snacks before leaving. Even if that means just putting snack-sized bags of chips together out of a big bag and filling a cooler jug with water, the cost savings are well worth the time. If you're feeling more on top of things, consider packing bread and sandwich fixings to save on roadside lunches. If you plan on stopping at restaurants for dinner, consider shopping ahead of time at a gift card exchange site where you can grab other people's Christmas rejects for a fraction of the price, or check Groupon for good restaurant deals in most cities across the US.
Nothing will influence the road trip experience more than your choice of vehicle. This is where you'll be for several hours a day, so you'll want to make sure it's as comfortable as possible. Beyond a thorough cleaning, consider what maintenance tasks you've been putting off. Get a tire rotation and an oil change before you leave to avoid having to pay for expensive repairs on the road.
Finally, you'll also want to make sure all the legalities are covered. Make sure your insurance is current and you know where your card is located. Call your insurance company to make sure you're covered if someone else is driving your car. Confirm that your plates are current and that you know where all your important documents are. Taking these steps can prevent an expensive and time-consuming ticket!
What are your best road trip savings tips? Let us know in the comments about how you keep the costs down on your highway adventures!
Countless blog posts have been written about credit scores and credit reports. Not one post has been written about my personal experience with credit reports. So, I’m going to share my credit story. I would love to hear your experience with credit reports & scores too!
Here are my tips for healthy credit scores:
Credit scores determine your ability to borrow money from many lenders. In my early 20’s, I applied for a car loan from a credit union. Then, I shopped for my dream car. The lender told me that I qualified to borrow $10k. That wasn’t enough to buy my dream car. I felt surprised that I didn’t qualify for more. I had heard stories of others who made less than me and qualified for so much more. I didn’t understand how credit was used to grant loans.
Years later I worked for a nonprofit and taught financial education. As I taught about credit, I understood why I hadn’t qualified for more money years before - I even felt surprised that I had qualified for $10k. Since I had no credit at the time, I had no credit score. The credit union was looking at my credit score and my income.
If you are wondering about the end of the story, here it is: Well, that experience helped me realize the value of money. I realized that ten thousand dollars was a lot of money! I actually decided not to buy car at that time. Instead, I used a free bus pass offered through my college until I graduated.
Nine years ago, we refinanced our home. The refinancing process included a credit check. The loan officer noticed that another social security number was being reported on one of my credit reports. It was an easy fix. She sent a letter stating that the social security number reported was not mine, and it was corrected.
Checking your credit report is one way to catch identity theft as early as possible. Also, mistakes on your credit report can negatively affect your credit score. Millions of Americans have mistakes on their credit report at some point in their lives. If you notice the mistake and notify the Credit Reporting Bureau of that mistake, they are required to investigate it. If you need more information on how to do this, check here. Disputes can be done online.
Ever since that time, I’ve checked our reports regularly. How often is regularly? Well, it’s not as often as I should be exercising or eating, but it is as often as I should be getting a physical check up (which I haven’t done for a while). An annual credit checkup has worked well for me. I suggest you find a time that you can remember to check it. If you aren’t preparing to get a loan, it’s easy to forget about checking your credit - just like it has been easy for me to forget about getting a physical checkup because I’ve been healthy.
By checking your credit score once a year, you can ensure accuracy so that when you do need credit, your reports will be accurate and you will be prepared. One friend told me that she checks her credit reports on her birthday so that she can remember to do it. I check my reports when I do my taxes, because they are both financially related. You can check your credit report once a year from three credit reporting companies for free through this website. (It does cost to get your FICO (Fair Isaac Corporation) score.) Each company reports different information in different ways. You don’t have to get all three reports at the same time. If you want to check one report every four months, you could do that. Decide what works best for you.
Credit Reports are not the easiest documents to read and understand. I almost needed a magnifying glass to read Transunion’s small wording on its report. I remember feeling confused and overwhelmed the first time that I read my credit reports. The reports seemed too long for someone with such little credit history, but it listed every address where I had lived. It also listed everything I had done financially.
Credit history can be long. Our mortgage loan was sold several times, and we have refinanced twice. So, all of that information is listed. Be prepared to sift through a lot of information. Check to make sure that the information is accurate. There are three different agencies that report credit information: Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. Each report is different.
There are five basic components of a credit score. If you want more information about those five components of the credit score, read this blog post from Wasatch Peaks. I promise that checking your credit reports isn’t as painful as it may sound and is vital to keeping your credit score accurate and healthy.
To further understand your Credit Report, feel free to use the financial counseling services that Wasatch Peaks offers. The counselors are certified credit report reviewers and are there to give you guidance and support, whatever your financial situation.
Imagine skipping a day of class, then coming into the next session and seeing a test. You open the packet and see what appears to be gibberish staring back at you. Everyone else around you seems to have a perfect grasp of what’s going on, but you’re just stumbling in the dark.
That can be what the process of preparing your taxes can feel like the first time you do them. You’re given a big pile of paper and expected to sort it out yourself. It’s easy to get overwhelmed.
Before you start to panic, though, take a deep breath. There are a few questions that might make your life much easier. Grab that big stack of paper and ask yourself …
There’s an easy way to short circuit this whole process. If you didn’t make much money last year, you don’t have to file taxes. If your earned income (wages and tips) is less than $6,300 and your unearned income (interest and dividends) is less than $1,050, you probably don’t have to file taxes.
Of course, you might still want to do so. If you had a summer job, your employer took taxes out of your paycheck as though you’d been working all year. You might be able to get a little bit of a refund for your effort.
If your tax situation is relatively simple, you may be eligible to use a form called the 1040-EZ (as in easy). It’s a much more straightforward document. You just enter your wages, your filing status (married or single) and the taxes you’ve already paid. It’s all laid out on your W-2, the form you got in the mail or online from your employer.
The 1040-EZ lives up to its name. It’s one page long. Once you put your name, address and Social Security number on it, you’re about halfway done. You don’t get to claim any tax credits, but there aren’t a lot of tax credits available for college students in any case.
You don’t have to go it alone. If you’re feeling antisocial, you can (and should) use an e-filing service. The IRS has a tool to help you pick the best one. Remember, members of Wasatch Peaks can save up to $15 on TurboTax®!
There may also be tax help available. A program called the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) is available on many college campuses. Business students looking to bolster their resumes will frequently volunteer to help with taxes for free. This is especially important if your tax situation is more complicated, like if you’re paying for college on your own or have self-employment income from a side hustle.
Are you stressed about taxes? Tell us about it in the comments, or pop down and help your fellow students out!
According to a new report by a leading wedding magazine, The Knot, the average American wedding cost has eclipsed $35,000. That’s more than half of the yearly median income! Most of that spending isn’t on lavish luxuries for bride and groom – it comes from the guest list. Couples are inviting more people and doing more for them, trying to create an unforgettable experience for their loved ones.
If you’ve got an event planned for the coming year, read on. Your bill doesn’t need to be that extreme. Here are five ways to save on the cost of your big day!
Saturday is the most common day of the week for weddings. It’s automatically attractive, since everyone has the day off and most churches aren’t available on Sundays. Because of this popularity, venues are often more expensive on Saturday than on other days.
While the appeal of a weekend might not apply to a random Wednesday, you can pick a date that offers some of those same benefits without paying the Saturday premium. Try setting up your special day before a holiday, like July 3, or on the Sunday of a long weekend, like Labor Day. Your guests will still have time to enjoy themselves, and you can save as much as 15% on the cost of your venue.
When it comes to picking a venue, the first obligation should be to find a place that speaks to who you are as a couple. Practically, though, there are several important factors that should influence your decision. Most importantly, pick a venue that allows outside vendors for food, music and photography (or negotiate with the venue you already selected). Places that do a lot of business in weddings may have existing relationships with businesses that can charge more because they’re not competing.
If you can get this kind of flexibility, shop around for better prices on some of the more costly parts of the wedding. You also gain the flexibility to get exactly what you want out of these services. by contracting with an outside party.
From cake decorating to flower arranging, everyone has a “special” wedding price. Many vendors know they can get away with charging more for a service if it’s wedding-related than if it’s for another occasion. You can catch some savings if you keep the reason for the occasion to yourself.
For example, when shopping for a dress, buying a formal gown that’s not specifically labeled as a “wedding dress” can translate to savings. Getting a custom-decorated sheet cake (or buying a big cake and decorating it simply yourself) can save a few hundred dollars. By not mentioning the word “wedding,” you can easily save 30% at various vendors.
The biggest costs for most wedding-related items is in labor. When you pay for flower arrangements, you’re paying about 10% for the flowers and 90% for the florist’s time. The same is true for cake decorating and place setting. Instead of hiring professionals, consider putting your guests to work.
It may seem awkward, but many wedding guests would love the opportunity to feel like they contributed to your special day. They get the feeling of participating actively in making your event a success, and you get to save a few bucks on nearly every service. It’s a win-win!
One of the biggest challenges for newlyweds is coming up with that much money all at once. All the wedding bills come due at the same time. For many couples, that means using consumer debt to finance the whole cost of their wedding. Doing so can make your dream wedding all the more unaffordable, as interest and financing charges add up.
Instead, consider setting up a Club Account or Dedicated Savings Account to help defray costs. Set up an automatic withdrawal from your checking account into a dividend-bearing savings account. When the bills start coming in for the big day, you’ll have money set aside to defray the costs. Remember, a dollar you don’t have to finance is a dollar you don’t pay interest on. Even if you can’t absorb the whole cost of the event out of savings, why not borrow less?
What are your best cost-saving wedding hacks? Share your wisdom in the comments!
When you’re mulling over a major purchase, the right price can often tip the scales. If you’re patient, willing to research and time your buys just right, you can save quite a bit of money. Here are the best things to buy during each month for the rest of the year!
With the holidays over and winter setting in, department stores lure shoppers with "white sales," making this the best time to buy linens. Of course, just as with clothing, keep an eye out all year round, since retailers will put last season’s stuff on sale when new products come out.
Now’s a great time to take stock of your existing cold weather gear. If you’ve got a coat that’s seen its final winter, now’s a great time to replace it. Retailers are looking to clear out the last of the season’s merchandise to make room for spring clothes, so you can snag a deal on thermal clothes. You can also find a bargain on heaters and humidifiers to make your house more comfortable.
If you’re looking to reboot your New Year’s weight loss resolution, March is a great time to pick up exercise equipment at a discount. Treadmills and ellipticals are past their peak buying time, so retailers are looking to get rid of them. Sports equipment, like golf clubs and athletic wear, are also facing deep discounts.
Japanese manufacturers’ fiscal year ends in March, so they’re typically ready to roll out new product lines. If you’re OK with being a year behind the latest and greatest, you can pick up a fully functional digital camera, laptop computer or big-screen TV in April. Tax refund-themed sales may also make it cheaper to upgrade your technological goods.
Now that the weather’s getting nicer, many home improvement shops will begin running sales on tools and other supplies. It’s also graduation time, which means dorm-stocking essentials will get some discounts. Check out basic pots, pans and cooking appliances in May.
Everyone’s gotten a chance to get their spring cleaning done. That means thrift stores are stuffed with donated second-hand goods. Be on the lookout for bargains of all sorts, but especially for used furniture and clothes.
The end of July marks back-to-school time, which means this is the month retailers start to gear up for school shopping. Look for promotions, like tax-free days, if you’re in the market for a computer or peripheral. Otherwise, you can stock up on pens, paper and other standard office essentials.
If you’ve managed through the heat of the summer with a busted AC, August may provide some much-needed relief. Major appliance retailers are looking to shift their inventories from cooling to heating. Look for discounts on window AC units, dehumidifiers and other cool appliances.
The new models of most major appliances start to roll out in October and November, making September an excellent time to grab last year’s model. If you need a new dishwasher or refrigerator, try to hold out until September. Also, new Apple accessories, like iPads and iPhones, typically come out in November or December, so September can be a great chance to upgrade your device, too.
The new model year begins for cars toward the end of summer, so there are a lot of leftovers from the previous year that need to go. Dealers are desperate to move inventory, so you can get a good price on the current year’s models. October is also a quiet season for cruise lines, so many of them run specials and sales during the month.
Christmas season is in high gear, and major retailers are competing for gamer bucks. Expect to see the best bundles with the hottest games for the lowest prices in November. Whether you’re trying to surprise a gamer in your life or just get the newest games for yourself, November is the time to buy.
It may seem like eons away, but if you buy a pool now, you can get a great discount on next summer’s fun. There are a few smaller sales during the summer, but you’d have to keep a sharp eye out to catch them.
What’s your best deal-nabbing tip? How do you find the lowest prices for the best stuff? Share your bargain hunting wisdom with us in the comments!
Wasatch Peaks Credit Union is so excited to announce that we are now live with our new Peaks Money Manager™ product.
This is a data-driven money management tool that securely integrates into digital banking products and enables users to take control of their finances. Budgeting, account aggregation, auto-categorization, and debt management are just a few of the tools that this product offers.
It is easy to access – just login to your Wasatch Peaks account online and select Services, then select Peaks Money Manager.
There is also an app available for mobile devices. The apps can be found in the app stores! Follow this link to download for Androids or this link to download for Apple products. Once you download the app, it will ask for an access code. This is generated within the desktop version of Peaks Money Manager. Simply login to your account at your desktop or laptop and select Services and then Peaks Money Manager. From there go to Settings (top right-hand corner) and then select Mobile Devices and click on Generate Access Code.
This is a great way to see all of your accounts at Wasatch Peaks Credit Union as well as any other financial accounts you have elsewhere. You can look at your HSA, John Hancock Account, and many others in one place to help view your total financial picture. Download or access it on your desktop today and take control of your finances!
Did you ever wish there was some way to get your fashion-conscious 11-year-old to realize all those things she's asking you for actually cost money? Try this activity with your child this weekend, and your wish will be granted!
Take your child on a trip to the mall and give her a task: She can purchase a specific item she's been asking for (a new pair of boots, a gym bag, etc.) with a set amount of cash. She cannot spend a penny more than that amount, and cannot ask you for that item again this season. Tell your preteen that you're only going to accompany him around the mall - you will not tell him which store to choose for making the purchase, or which item to buy. As an added bonus, allow your child to keep any change left after buying the item. The freedom to spend as she pleases will thrill your child, and the offer to keep the change will motivate her to spend as little as possible.
On the way to the mall, give your preteen a quick briefing on what to look out for when choosing the item - things like quality, overpriced brand-name merchandise, hiked-up seasonal items, etc.
Then, as promised, keep your mouth closed as you accompany your child around the mall and watch in amazement as he learns invaluable lifetime skills such as comparison-shopping, saving, peer pressure and more. It all happens in one productive afternoon at the mall!
Have you given your child a budget for a specific item and then watched with pride as he or she carefully calculated every penny to make the perfect choice? Share your success (or your own lessons learned) with us!