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Money Matters

Where does all the money go?

By | 2018, Money Matters | No Comments

Why does the word budget feel like a personal judgment? Maybe it’s because creating a budget may uncover the spending we know is happening, but don’t want to address. It brings out some feelings of guilt.

Let’s ditch the word budget and call it a spending plan.  Now we are in control. The truth is following a spending plan provides some freedom. Regardless of our age, we need to have a plan. When starting out, a spending plan allows us to have what we need for today while also planning for future needs. It gives us the green light to spend a predetermined amount on things we want and enjoy. Without a plan, we spend first, then save what’s left over. This is a recipe for financial disaster. Too often there is nothing left over at the end of the month. The result, nothing gets saved for the future.

Later in life, we have some financial flexibility and incorrectly believe we no longer need to worry about a spending plan. This is also a recipe for financial disaster.  At retirement are income sources become limited. Making sure our nest egg is available to provide income for the lifestyle we want, throughout our retirement years, becomes paramount. After all, who wants to reduce their standard of living at the time we should be enjoying the fruits of our labor?

Creating a spending plan will take some thought and time but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Here are some tips:

  1. Look over your expenses for the past year to determine where your money is going. If you haven’t been tracking your spending, begin doing so.
  2. Categorize your expenditures by non-discretionary and discretionary.
    a. Non-discretionary includes things you must have; groceries, mortgage, rent, utilities.
    b. Discretionary includes things you like to have; cable, eating out, entertainment.
  3. Determine your goals – saving for retirement, down payment on a home, travel.
  4. Decide how much you need to put aside to reach your goals. Then break it down to a monthly amount.
  5. Review your discretionary spending to determine where you could cut back in if needed.
  6. Follow your spending plan. In the beginning, it will be hard and may require a few tweaks.
  7. Use an app or excel spreadsheet to help track your spending.
  8. Review and adjust regularly.

Now congratulate yourself. You have taken the first step to financial freedom!

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Giving Back

By | 2018, Money Matters | No Comments

Finding opportunities to give back was a consistent theme among the participants at the Just for Women 2018 conference. We agree. Giving has an empowering effect on the giver, the charity that serves a need, and most importantly, on the recipients. The desire to give back is innate – not generally driven by financial benefits. Having said that, there are ways you can give that benefit both you and the charity; financially speaking. Here are two that you may want to consider.

Donation-in-kind. If you have an investment in a non-retirement account, you can donate the investment directly to a qualified charity. By doing this you completely avoid capital gains taxes. Furthermore, if you itemize your taxes, you can claim the value of the investment, on the day it was donated, as a deduction. The key benefit is that the charity receives the full value of the donation tax-free. One caveat; you must have owned the investment for at least one year and one day and it must have increased in value.

Qualified Charitable Distribution. If you have reached the wonderful age of 70½, congratulations! Uncle Sam has been waiting for this day. It is at this age that you are required to take money out of your retirement accounts; i.e. IRA, 401(k), 403(b). This is called a Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) and will occur every year going forward. If your retirement account is an IRA, you can choose to have the money you are required to take out – all or part – go directly to your favorite charity, taking advantage of the Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) option. The benefit to you – you do not have to claim the distribution as income or pay tax on the money that comes out. This is valuable because the distribution will not have a negative impact on your Medicare Part B premiums. The benefit to the charity – it receives the full value of your donation; tax-free.

I have the pleasure of working with the Utah Parent Center, a local charity that has served families of people with disabilities for over 35 years. I have been impressed by the positive influence they have on so many lives. While they have served more than 25,000 individuals, there are many more who could benefit from the services they provide. However, they need the support of our community to provide services to those additional people. One family’s story is below.

If you would like more information on making a donation-in-kind or qualified charitable distribution using your investments call our office at 801-355-8888. To donate directly to Utah Parent Center, use this link: https://utahparentcenter.org/donate/.

Together, we can make a difference.

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Increase the fun… not the expense!

By | 2018, Money Matters | No Comments

Did someone say “Summer”?

It’s finally here and vacation planning is in full swing. How do you enjoy your vacation without the financial worry of vacation spending? Here are 3 financial tips to get more fun and enjoyment for your time and money.

Tip 1 – Everyday doesn’t need to include costly entertainment. Do some research before you go. It’s amazing what you can find to do for free—public parks, hiking, lakes, art exhibits, museums. Check the local tourism site before you go to see what’s happening when you’re in town. They can provide information on popular, and less known, places to see and things to do.

Tip 2 – Save some extra cash for the fun stuff by renting a vacation suite or villa. It’s easy to underestimate the cost of food when eating out three meals a day. Suites and Villas have small kitchens giving you the option to eat breakfast and a few meals in. They also provide space to spread out and relax after your day of fun. Pick up some snacks to munch on while playing and avoid spending on high priced treats at tourist destinations.

Tip 3 – Yes, impulse buying happens, even while on vacation. To avoid this, give yourself, and your fellow travelers a souvenir budget – in cash. When the money is gone, the spending ends. T-shirts, hats, and other theme-related souvenirs are generally available online at a better price. Purchase them before you go and wear them to the theme park. If you see something you like at the local boutique or gift shop, ask if there is a company website. If you’re still thinking about the item when you get home, buy it online. This will cut down on impulse spending and you’ll avoid the peril of packing your souvenirs for the journey home.

Wishing you a summer packed with fun!

Sharla J. Jessop, CFP®
President

Bonus Tip – Leaving town? Before you go, let your credit card company know you will be traveling. Your credit card provider may view a charge as suspect if made from another state. It can be extremely frustrating if your credit card is rejected when you’re trying to make a purchase. I’m speaking from experience!

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