Preparing financially for retirement for many people is a shot in the dark: just save as much as you can and hope it’s enough. It’s understandable that people take that view. After all, it can feel like there are too many variables to even get a grip on. How do you know how much money you will need? How do you know how much income you will have each month? If you can start to get a better handle on these numbers by completing a retirement budget, you can take a big step toward creating a time that will be truly relaxing and low-stress. It’s best to do a retirement budget at least five years before retiring, but there is never a bad time to take a close look at the figures.
Here are some considerations to keep in mind when you are completing your projected budget:
Think about what your retirement will look like
One of the most important exercises of this entire process is to actually take the time to think about what your retirement will involve. Will there be a lot of lazy days in a hammock? Or do you see yourself on the go a lot, travelling to new destinations? Write down some of the goals you have for your retirement. Visualizing your future lifestyle will help a lot in creating a realistic forecast of which of your expenses will go up and which will go down in retirement.
Examine your current expenses first
Before you can estimate what you will be spending in retirement, you need to have a realistic assessment of what your costs are now. Track your expenses for a month to give yourself a baseline figure. A tip: Putting all your charges for a month on a debit card or credit cards gives you an automatic record of where your money has gone.
Determine your expenses in retirement
This is where that list of current expenses comes in handy. Not only does it give you a jumping off point for determining your future expenses, but it also helps you start to identify some of the expenses you can cut in retirement. A tip: Insurance needs and costs can change dramatically with the onset of retirement, so make a note to contact your agents to discuss your potential for future savings.
Remember to include all sources of income
There are many ways people earn income in retirement, including employer retirement plans, individual retirement plans, pensions, annuities, investments and part-time jobs. Be sure to include all of these in your budget figures. A tip: Call any former employers you believe may have put money in a retirement account or pension on your behalf.
Give the budget a test run
One way to see if your retirement budget will be livable is to try to stick to it for a month or two. Track all your expenses and see if you are able to stick to what you have projected.
Do multiple budgets if necessary
There may be events happening during retirement that will change your financial situation. For example, you may pay off your house. Or you might feel like you want to work part-time for five years and then fully retire after that. Or maybe you will receive a sizeable inheritance. Don’t be afraid to do two budgets, or even more if you think there will be multiple life-changing events.
Take advantage of free calculators
With factors like inflation and compound interest affecting your future numbers, it can feel nearly impossible to calculate what your money will be worth or what things will cost at the time of your retirement. Visit www.balancepro.net for financial calculators to help you get a clearer picture.
Decide when you will retire
One simplified way to determine when you have enough to retire is when the amount you will be able to have in monthly income meets what you project for monthly expenses. If you aren’t there yet, consider ways to amass more money for your retirement. A tip: If you are trying to max out your Social Security benefits, there is a calculator at www.ssa.gov that shows how much you will receive based on what year you retire. You can adjust the numbers to see what timeframe works best for you.
This is a big task to take on by yourself. Contacting a financial counselor, certified financial planner and/or tax professional can help you check your work and get fresh ideas for making the most out of your money.
10 Money Saving Tips for Retirees
Despite the popularity of credit card accounts, it’s easy to for holders to make mistakes that can cost them money. These are the top blunders to avoid:
1. Not having a payback plan -- Because it’s so easy to carry over a balance on a credit card and pay a minimum balance every month, people often pull out their credit cards assuming they’ll just figure out how to pay off the debt as income becomes available.
Instead, remember that credit card transactions are, in essence, loans. So if the loan were much more significant than that $20 shirt or car repair or fast food you just bought, how would you convince a loan officer that you’re not a liability? What do you have in writing to support your story? If you don’t have the details about where the payback will come from and how long you expect it to take, then you should be your own loan officer, deny your request, and put the card away.
2. Treating credit as “extra” money -- Credit is not extra money. In fact, it often costs money if you have to pay interest. Instead, credit is just the money you promise a lender you’ll have later. That means you are limited by your existing budget, regardless of what your credit limit on the card actually might be.
What a credit card should do for the average person going about daily life is assist with cash flow. For example, if most of your bills are due on the first of the month, you would pay them from your checking account and decide to use your credit card for groceries and commit to paying off the card on your next payday.
3. Not knowing which card to pay off first -- Some gurus advocate paying off cards with small balances first so you get the psychological boost of knowing the accounts are “finished.” But mathematically, you’ll save money and get out of debt faster if you push as much as you can toward the card with the highest interest rate first. Regardless of your method, remember that each time you eliminate a card, take the money you’d allocated for payment and put it toward the card with the next card.
4. Assuming you’ll remember every payment -- Even if you have just one card, life is busy. That’s normal. And pretty soon, it happens–you miss your credit card payment due date and get hit with a late fee. The more cards you have, the harder it is to remember when to pay, too. At the absolute minimum, set yourself a reminder on your smart phone or calendar to access your account and pay. Better yet, set up auto-pay or use e-billing through your financial institutions online banking system.
5. Handling opening and closing of accounts poorly -- Every time you open a new credit card account, you should ask yourself how it would affect your debt-to-income ratio if you maxed out your credit lines. The purpose of the account also should be much more significant than just a great APR or introductory offer–it should fit your vision and lifestyle, too.
Try not to open a bunch of new accounts in a short time frame, as creditors can wonder why you need so much credit all of a sudden. If you already have accounts, don’t let any sit idle; make occasional purchases to keep them active. If you must close an account, try to keep ones that have the longest history for you and would best show long-term evidence of spending and the ability to pay.
Credit cards can be wonderful financial tools if used correctly. As long as you run your numbers in advance, stay realistic, and understand that the funds aren’t a free license to spend, you’ll be ahead of the game.
What does social media have to do with spending habits? More than you think. Over decades, we have integrated it into our lives: it is how we connect with people and organizations.
Consequently, companies have taken advantage of this and turned what used to be a networking tool into an easy way to advertise. The average American will spend more than $2,100 a year on impulse purchases (this is up 18% from pre-pandemic times). In addition, 40% of Americans admit to purchasing something under the social media influence.
You may follow certain celebrities or influencers on social media. As you’re scrolling through their stories, they often mention products that made their lives easier or “casually” mention clothes that they can’t live without; appropriately, they’ll provide special links or codes. Therefore, it’s incredibly easy to plunk that item in your cart, use Apple Pay, and you can relax while your item is on its way.
This seamless shopping experience has made it convenient to give in to impulse shopping. Moreover, with data mining and data analytics, if you search for a product, there will be no doubt that particular item or similar items will make their way onto your feed as an ad.
So how do you combat social media spending?
Make a Budget and Allow Yourself to Spend. This is crucial. Creating a budget not only makes us prioritize where our money goes, but it pushes us to be more conscious of our spending. In this process, we can allow “fun money” that permits us to make these purchases. Most importantly though, we must stick to it.
Unsubscribe. Unsubscribe from email lists or influencers. When you see “FLASH SALE!” “TODAY ONLY!” the sense of urgency is intentionally there to speak to our FOMO. We must realize that these “sales” may be too tempting for us, so clicking that unsubscribe or unfollow button might be necessary.Bonus: Your inbox will be less cluttered.
Don’t Compare Your Life to Everyone Else’s Highlight Reel. I’m sure you’ve heard this statement before. It’s a tough one, but remember, people tend to put their highlights on social media: the carefully curated, literally filtered snippets of their lives. We are consumers of that content, and we end up telling ourselves stories that we must be better. Be kind to yourself and focus on YOU and your goals.
The Takeaway. Most importantly, if we recognize the triggers that cause impulse spending, we can better control our urges.
Tennessee’s traditional sales tax holiday on clothing, school supplies and computers begins at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July 30, 2021, and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, August 1, 2021.
During this time clothing, school supplies and computers may be purchased tax-free. Certain restrictions apply. Items sold online are also eligible. Items must be purchase for personal use, not for business or trade.
New this year, food, food ingredients, and prepared foods are exempt from sales tax during this time frame. This includes qualified sales of prepared food by restaurants, food trucks, caterers, and grocery stores. Sales of alcoholic beverages are not included in items exempt during this period.
Through our BALANCE Financial Guide, members have access to nearly 30 calculators that can help you make good financial decisions through every stage of life. Check out these calculators to plan for retirement, savings, mortgages, credit card payoff, college, auto loans, and more!
The LG&W Federal Credit Union Board of Directors has resolved to name its annual scholarships “The Bobby Blancett Memorial Scholarships” in honor and in loving memory of past Board member C.R. “Bobby” Blancett.
Bobby passed away in August, 2020 while an active Director. He served our Credit Union proudly and loyally for 50 years in many different capacities, serving as a member of the Credit Committee, as a Director, and as a Board officer in the roles of Treasurer, Vice Chairman and Chairman. He served on our Scholarship Committee many times and on various ad hoc committees, including the executive search committee. Bobby took his responsibilities as a Director very seriously and attended training and planning conferences and sessions to ensure that he was knowledgeable and informed on Credit Union compliance and management issues.
Bobby was a graduate of Humes High School and the University of Memphis and was an accomplished athlete. He was inducted into the Memphis Sports Hall of Fame in 2003.
Bobby worked for MLGW for 40 years, starting as a laborer, and ended his career as Supervisor of Survey and Records. He was a faithful member of Berclair Church of Christ.
Bobby’s commitment to excellence helped the LG&W Federal Credit Union become a strong and vibrant financial institution to serve his MLGW colleagues and their families. Our Board, our staff and our members will be forever grateful to Bobby for his dedication and leadership and we will continue to honor his legacy with our annual scholarship awards.
Each year, LG&W Federal Credit Union offers $1,500 scholarships for qualifying high school seniors attending a college, university, or approved vocational school. We are pleased to announce the Bobby Blancett Memorial Scholarship recipients for the fall of 2021:
Alexander Field is graduating from Center Hill High School and will be attending Northwest Mississippi College with a major in art.
Micheal Field is graduating from Center Hill High School and will be attending MIT with a major in computer science.
Jackson P. Harris is graduating from Marion High School and will be attending The University of Memphis, Mississippi State University, or Baylor, with a major in mechanical engineering.
Keenan Wilburn Jr. will be attending Mississippi State University with a major in electrical engineering.
Your relationship with food is probably pretty complex. In addition to sustenance, you may use food for comfort, gathering with others, distraction or pleasure. When you really commit to tracking your food expenses as part of putting together a spending and savings plan, you realize food can be a complicated part of your financial life too. While meals are of course a necessity, take a look at your food-buying habits. Odds are that there’s room to save.
Eliminating “extra” expenses like dining out or buying pricey steaks is a good place to start. But also keep in mind that a successful food-purchasing plan isn’t just about cutting things out. It’s also about understanding your habits.
Going out to lunch at work
You may grab “a quick bite” at work because it’s easy. But it might actually take you less time at home to put together the same meal. Then you get to spend more of your lunch period at work relaxing, going for a walk or reading a book. Or you could just spend the time thinking about the hundreds of dollars you will save this year by brown-bagging.
Convenience store or check-out aisle buys
If you actually look at the prices, you realize that the mark-ups on the quick-grab items near store cash registers are incredibly high. But that’s just the thing. Stores realize you don’t stop to examine and consider prices in those situations. If you find yourself reaching for a pack of gum or some candy as you are about to check out, instead, make a commitment to stock up ahead of time and keep these items in your car or your purse or your desk. By buying them online or at a bulk retailer, you could pocket a bunch of extra dough.
The fast burger or taco for $0.99 sounds like the perfect recipe for our modern sensibilities; we want food in a hurry and we don’t want to pay a lot. While the speed of delivery may be enticing, the end price may not be all that great. Consider: how many times have you gone to a fast food restaurant and ordered just one thing? The advertised item may be under a dollar, but when you add on a drink and fries or another side order, the costs add up.
Shopping when you are hungry
It’s silly to think that you are always going to shop on a full stomach. So instead of feeling like you need to plan all your grocery shopping excursions in tandem with meals, just be aware of why you are putting each item into your cart. Are you reaching for that plastic canister of candy rope because it’s a part of your spending plan or because your blood sugar is a little low?
“High end” grocery stores
You may like to go to the more expensive grocery in your area because they have a few specialty items that you can’t find at other stores. That is certainly understandable. But make sure those items aren’t available for a lower price at your regular grocery first. They may be tucked away in a place you hadn’t thought to look. Also, even though you might go to the more expensive grocery store for a few specialty items, doesn’t mean you have to pay a higher price on the regular items; try to just purchase the specialty items there.
Buying prepared items
Any financial coach worth their salt will tell you that cooking your own meals instead of buying prepared meals saves you mounds of cash. But also think about the fruits and vegetables you buy. Fruit medleys or even individual chopped fruit packages can cost much, much more than just buying the fruit in its whole form. Same goes for salad mixes. Is it really worth the extra money to have someone cut up your fruit or mix up some greens for you?
Failing to plan
If you are one of those people who wander around the grocery store until they find some things that look yummy, you are probably paying more than the list makers of the world. In a perfect world you would plan out your meals for a couple weeks and create a shopping list based on that. But at the very least, try to formulate a list of necessities. Allow yourself one impulse buy if that helps you stick to the plan. Remember that “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.
If you plan your dining experience with meat as the centerpiece, you are not alone. It’s a common tactic. But it doesn’t have to be an all-the-time way of looking at meal construction. By sometimes substituting in tofu, beans or legumes as your protein source, you can save significantly at checkout time.
Brand name insistence
There are certain consumer items for which you can make an argument that brand name goods are a better choice. But that isn’t generally the case with food. Lima beans are lima beans, whether the name on the can is the one you heard on TV or it is completely new to you.
Making money-smart choices about your food purchases doesn’t have to mean denying yourself the things you love. Instead, think of using these tips to get all the food you like, while giving yourself extra money to spend on things you enjoy.
Do you have serious white-knuckle moments once or twice a month, waiting to see if your money will last until you get paid again? If so, you’ve probably looked for ways to avoid this stress. You’ve worn your expense tracking pencil down to a nub and you regularly see spreadsheet columns in your dreams. It just doesn’t feel like there’s anything left to cut. While you may feel like you’ve exhausted all options, there are certain steps financial counselors point to time and again as overlooked ways to give yourself some cash flow breathing room.
Check your tax withholdings
Do you get a big refund every year after completing your taxes? If so, you are loaning the government money that could serve as your financial cushion. Talk with your human resources person and/or your tax pro to devise a plan to get more money in each paycheck and less in your return.
The more, the money merrier
You probably have some relatives you just can’t see living with. On the other hand, there are likely some who could become pleasant housemates. Splitting rent/mortgage payments with a family member may not have been your original plan, but doing so can really help you get a leg up on your savings.
Do you insist on soaking up as much sun as possible in the summer? Or are you a big-time winter sports participant? If you’re like most people, there is a time of year when you end up spending more time outside the home engaging in favorite activities. Identify which season you spend the least time on the couch and eliminate your cable package during this time. You may even find that you don’t need to go back to it.
Having an extra job year-round might not sound appealing, but there are jobs you can pick up for a limited engagement that could help you sock away a little extra cash. Wrapping packages around the holidays or greeting visitors at a tourist attraction could bring a high reward-to-commitment ratio.
Communicate openly and honestly
If you are part of a couple, getting ahead is going to take teamwork. With a tight budget in place, you may find yourself wanting to carve out your own little hidden piece of the pie or keep some spending decisions secret, fearing that you otherwise won’t have any of your own fun money. This kind of behavior tends to be counterproductive since the off-the-books spending isn’t figured into your plan and can easily snowball. Work together to create a spending plan that allows you to each have your own discretionary treats.
Setting goals is a must for financial success, but you also need to use those goals regularly to help you frame spending decisions. Get in the habit of asking yourself whether each and every purchase is in line with not only your budget, but your goals too.
Mind the mindless
As the saying goes, you are a creature of habit. You pick up that magazine in the check-out aisle, you grab that coffee on the way to work and you instinctively choose the name brand wheat bread at the grocery store. While they may seem like harmless expenditures, these unexamined spending choices can really cost you over the course of a month.
Save your raises
The warning used to be that you “spend what you see” – meaning that if you have money in your checking account, you’re going to spend it. However, these days a more apt phrase would probably be that you “spend what you see and then a little more.” Don’t use a raise or a bonus at work as a reason to spend more. Instead, think of it as an opportunity to save and get yourself off the hamster wheel of money worries.
Avoid late fees
Don’t fall into the trap of sticking your head in the sand to avoid thinking about your dwindling accounts. Most financial institutions now offer free online banking and mobile account alerts. By staying in touch with your accounts, you give yourself a greater chance of avoiding the downward spiral that can begin with insufficient funds fees.
All across the personal finance blogosphere are stories of regular folks who saved big by cooking more and opting for fewer restaurant or prepared meals. An often ignored tip is that not only do the savings come from the cost of the food, but also in the entertainment category. Turning the process of preparing a meal into a fun activity for family or friends can be just as pleasurable as a night out at the movies or concert. So get your ingredients, put on some fun music, and start saving!
Death to debt
High-interest unsecured debt is one of closest friends of the paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle. And by friend we mean no-good, jerky enabler. If you’re just continuing to make minimum payments on your debt, you’re never going to get to strong financial footing. Look for ways to aggressively slash away at your debt and free up money for savings.
Perhaps most important in the process of getting off the “just scraping by” treadmill is to stay positive. There are certain to be methods you try that aren’t going to work. However, by continuing to hammer away at improving your situation, eventually you will find techniques that get you to a healthier money lifestyle.
In the coming weeks you will receive a new LGWFCU VISA credit card in the mail. Your new VISA credit card replaces your current LGWFCU VISA card, and will be ready to activate and use on Monday, February 22, 2021.
Here’s what you need to know about the upcoming LG&W Federal Credit Union VISA credit card upgrade:
If you have recurring charges and payments, once the new VISA card is activated, you MUST notify any companies that automatically bill your credit card. Provide them with your new VISA card number and expiration date. Examples of these charges are gym memberships, Netflix, insurance, utilities, etc. This information should be updated on or after 2/22/21.
Note: On conversion day, February 22, 2021, you may not have full access to your available credit line. We suggest making large purchases the day before or the day after the conversion.
We are excited to provide our members with this new, improved LG&W Federal Credit Union VISA credit card. We appreciate your patience during this conversion. Please reach out to us at 901-680-7995 if we can answer any additional questions. We are here to serve you!
Our BALANCE Financial Guide is dedicated to helping you balance life’s important decisions.