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Estate planning and how to avoid probate

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probate and wills

In a recent blog post, we discussed what might happen if you pass away without a will and what might happen with a will. When you pass away owning property in your sole name (regardless of if you have a will or not), your assets might need to go through probate in order for your heirs to inherit your property. Having a will does not avoid probate—it just determines who will receive your property. If you die owning property in your sole name without a will, your estate still passes through probate—but who receives your property will typically be determined under the laws of the state where your primary residence is at your date of death (the “intestacy laws”).

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Probate is a court process to provide for an organized way of winding up a deceased person’s affairs. During this process, a personal representative or executor is appointed by the Probate Court to supervise the collection of your probate assets, payment of your final bills and taxes, and distribution of your assets according to either your will or the intestacy laws. This may or may not be what you intend and might be more expensive than if you made other plans in advance.

Avoiding Probate

There are ways to distribute your property at your death according to your wishes without going through probate. While the techniques might vary from state to state, these typically include:

  • titling property jointly with another (“joint tenants with rights of survivorship”)
  • creating a beneficiary deed for real estate
  • adding a “transfer on death” or “pay on death” designation to assets, such as bank or investment accounts, or by beneficiary designation for assets such as your retirement plan, IRA or life insurance
  • creating a “revocable” or “living” trust and retitling your assets in the name of your trust

The trustee holds the legal title to the property owned in the revocable trust, not you as owner. The trust property is held by the trustee for your benefit during your lifetime.  You can choose to serve as your own trustee as long as you are able. At your death, the property held in the trust is distributed by the successor trustee of the trust to those family members, friends or charities you name in your trust agreement, similar to the instructions you can leave in your will.

A Living Trust

There are many advantages to creating a living trust:

  • Control: You can be your own trustee during your lifetime and then you name a successor trustee (such as a bank) to serve after you cannot or do not wish to serve.
  • Flexibility: You can typically change the terms of the trust at any time while you are living. If you become disabled, your successor trustee can step in and pay your bills, manage your investments and allow you to avoid “living probate” where otherwise a court appointed conservator might be needed to manage your affairs. You can create trusts for your minor children or grandchildren to be created after your death, hold assets in further trust for disabled or disadvantaged beneficiaries and even create trusts for charities.
  • Privacy: The terms of the trust and its assets and values are typically private, unlike a probate proceeding, which is a public matter where your will (if any) and list of assets are filed with the court and open to inspection by anyone.

Your living trust would be part of your overall estate plan, which would likely include a “pour over will” (just in case assets weren’t retitled into your trust’s name at your death), powers of attorney for financial and healthcare decisions and a living will.

 

Be sure to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to discuss what estate plan is right for you under the circumstances.  We also recommend discussing your options with a wealth advisor who can assist you with your financial goals, working together with your attorney and other trusted advisors.

 

 

UMB is not providing you with any legal or tax advice.  You need to consult with your own legal and tax advisors to determine what estate plan is best for you and how the laws of the state governing your estate might affect you given your specific circumstances.

 

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Ms. Teson is a Senior Vice President and Private Wealth Management’s Senior Legal Counsel at UMB Bank. She is responsible for managing Private Wealth Management’s Legal, Fiduciary Tax and Real Estate and Unique Asset teams. She joined UMB in 1992 and has been a licensed attorney for 32 years. She is also a Certified Financial Planner.



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Benefits of a will

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A will allows you to protect and distribute your property owned by you at your death* through a written legal document. By detailing who should inherit what, you try to ensure that your possessions are distributed by your wishes, rather than state laws.  Remember, having a will does not mean that your estate will avoid probate.
Benefits of Having a Will

*Your will only affects property owned by you at your death titled in your sole name. It typically does not affect property which is owned as joint tenants with rights of survivorship, which passes by beneficiary deed or designation, including “Pay on Death” or “Transfer on Death,” or which is owned by a trust.

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UMB is not providing you with any legal or tax advice.  You need to consult with your own legal and tax advisors to determine what estate plan is best for you and how the laws of the state governing your estate might affect you given your specific circumstances.

 

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Ms. Teson is a Senior Vice President and Private Wealth Management’s Senior Legal Counsel at UMB Bank. She is responsible for managing Private Wealth Management’s Legal, Fiduciary Tax and Real Estate and Unique Asset teams. She joined UMB in 1992 and has been a licensed attorney for 32 years. She is also a Certified Financial Planner.



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How saving money differs in your 40s, 50s and 60s

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We already told you how your financial goals and habits vary from decade to decade in your 20s and 30s. The same is true as you move into your 40s and up until retirement. Here are some pro tips on how to take full advantage of each unique decade.

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Things to DO in your 40s

Do meet with a financial planner to make sure you’re on the right track to retire when you want and with the right amount to continue living the lifestyle you want. Retirement may seem very far away, but you don’t want to let yourself be caught in your early 60s playing catch-up on your 401(k).

Do decide how saving for major purchases balances with your retirement saving. If you have children, are you going to pay for all or some of their college tuition? What about your children’s weddings? These are examples of things that can cause parents to be caught off guard and can put a pause on your important retirement saving. For more information on these decisions, take a look at our recent post on Kids’ college vs. retirement: where to save?

And one thing to AVOID in your 40s

Don’t miss out on the maximum match from your employer on your retirement plan. As we’ve recommended from your first job in your 20s, be sure to take full advantage of the match from your employer. Of course, going above that amount is also a great idea; just be sure you’re reaching that minimum amount to get your full match.

 

Things to DO in your 50s 

Do think of this decade as your time to save the most (less expenses with children out of the home and typically higher income than you earned earlier in your career). Consider paying off high-cost debt, such as your mortgage, if you haven’t already and then save aggressively.

Do add catch-up contributions to your retirement savings. Even if you’re tracking well toward your retirement goals, you’re allowed to save more now, so do it!

And one thing to AVOID in your 50s

Don’t wait until your 60s to purchase long-term care insurance. The average age to buy this type of insurance is 57. If you wait until a few years later, it will be much more expensive.


Things to DO in your 60s
 

Do prepare aggressively for retirement…even before your planned last day of work. It’s difficult to predict when health, layoffs or extra time needed to care for your aging parents will cause you to retire earlier. This is the case with more than 40 percent of workers.

Do think about downsizing. This isn’t something that needs to wait until you’re already retired. If you’re single or if it’s just you and your spouse in your home, consider where you want to live for the next few decades and if moving makes sense.

And one thing to AVOID in your 60s

Don’t keep the same insurance policies you had in your 30s. You might not need life insurance anymore. Check your long-term care insurance policy to see what benefits it includes.

Remember, whether you’re 21 or 68, it’s never too late to improve your financial plan.

 

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References: *2012 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers

Inspired by a Daily Finance article

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Ms. Ponce is a Financial Center Manager for UMB Bank. She is responsible for managing the Collinsville micro-market. She joined UMB in 1991 and has 23 years of experience in the financial services industry.



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How saving money differs in your 20s and 30s

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Have you noticed that your eating, sleeping and entertainment habits changed after high school and again after college? The same is true of your financial situation. With a different lifestyle comes different financial needs, which is why we’re bringing you a few dos and don’ts for these crucial decades.

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Things to DO in your 20s…

Do contribute to a 401(k), one of the 9 financial habits we told you about earlier. How much should you save? At least as much as it takes to receive what your employer is willing to match. Beyond that, 10 to 15 percent of your pre-tax income is a great start.

Do lay a sound financial foundation by developing good habits. Contrary to what you may hear, how MUCH you save for retirement when you’re young isn’t as important as saving consistently starting as soon as possible.

Do find inspiration in growth charts / calculators like these. It’s hard to focus on something that is decades in the future, such as retirement, so calculate how dramatically your goals can be reached if you start early. For example, if you start saving $300/month in your 20s, you could have nearly $100,000 by the time you’re 50 (and that’s only factoring a less than 1 percent annual interest rate).

And one thing to avoid in your 20s…

Don’t ONLY save for your retirement. Many people in their 20s make this mistake. Since you can’t touch this money until you’re 59½  (with limited exceptions), you’ll need to make sure you have separate savings for emergencies and non-retirement goals.

 

Things to DO in your 30s…

Do ask yourself if you should buy a home. The median age of first time home buyers is 31*. While that doesn’t mean that age will be the right time for you, it does indicate that your 30s are a great time to start considering home ownership during this decade. If you’re a star student and are reading this section as a 20-something, good job. Because the money you save in your 20s will come in handy when it’s time to buy a home in your 30s. The down payment, closing costs and inevitable home repairs that pop up as soon as the home becomes yours add up quickly.

Do get life insurance if you now have dependents. It’s a bummer to dwell on, so don’t over think it. You and your family will appreciate the financial peace of mind it gives.

And one thing to avoid in your 30s…

Don’t be afraid to talk to your children about money. If you are among the 30-somethings with children, you can start teaching them as young as pre-school or early elementary school the concept of spending and saving. Playing imaginary restaurant or store with them is a great learning tool.

Update: check out how to save in your 40s, 50s and 60s!

 

 

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Reference: *2012 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers

Inspiration for article from Daily Finance

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Mr. Johnson is a VP/Financial Center Manager for UMB Kansas City. He is responsible for driving sales and relationship activities within the Walnut Lobby Financial Center. He joined UMB in 2007 and has 11 years of experience in the financial services industry. Mr. Johnson earned an Associate’s Degree from MCC. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science Degree majoring in Management and Finance from Park University.



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Sometimes it’s good to be cheap: money-saving tips from a “cheap” family

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Be Cheap!

Steve and Annette Economides are known as America’s cheapest family, and they didn’t get that label by stiffing waiters or bringing cheap bottles of wine to house parties. The Economides (yes, that’s their real last name, but it’s pronounced econo-mee dis)have developed a method to save money as a family, and they shared a few tips with CBS Arizona affiliate KPHO to help every family around the country cut back on spending.

Teach kids the value of money at a young age
The Economides wrote a book called “the MoneySmart family system,” and one of the main points is about teaching children the right way to go about learning and saving money. The couple believes that if parents show their children smart money-saving habits at a young age, it can help set the right mood for the entire family.

“We would normally spend money on them,” Steve said of his children. “I mean how many parents would normally give their kids $20 to go to the mall? So what we said was, okay, we’re going to give them money anyway, let’s have them earn it.”

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Setting up a point system is one way the Economides got their kids excited about earning and saving money. Their children would earn a set amount of points for completing a chore around the house. At the end of the week, they could turn those points in for money.

The family found a reward-based system helps children learn to budget at an early age. Steve also said their goal is by the time their children turn 11, they should be able to afford to buy their own clothes. By the time they turn 16 and are ready to drive, they should be able to pay for their own car and insurance.

“Remember we’re slowly transferring the weight of adult responsibilities to the kids so that by the time they’re 18, they’re ready to go to college and they know how to manage larger amounts of money,” Steve said.

The Economides understand that not every 16-year-old will be able to afford their own car. Annette said that even if they can’t purchase vehicles when they get their licenses, it’s wise to have them pay their own car insurance for accountability reasons.

“It’s real important that kids pay for their car insurance because then if they decide to speed and they get a ticket, their car insurance goes up and they bear the consequences for those decisions,” she said.

Paying off debt
The interesting take on savings doesn’t end there for this family. When managing debt, they told ABC affiliate KNXV to write down every person or establishment they owe money to, no matter the amount. They disagree with the many financial experts say to pay off high-interest debt first.

“Don’t worry about interest rates because you have more success if you simply knock off the smallest balance,” Annette said.

Steve suggests getting a second job, working overtime or looking around the house for unused items that you might be able to sell in order to help pay off debt. He said the family recently sold a 3-year-old textbook for $30.

Saving on daily costs
The average family of four spends $800 per month on food, or roughly $9,600 per year, according to WTVM.

Annette told KPHO that one simple way to trim a family’s food bill is to take inventory of what is already stocked in the refrigerator and kitchen cabinets before heading to the grocery store. She said most people have more in their house than they realize, so searching through their pantries reveals a lot of forgotten items.

Remember, adopting even one of these money-saving tips could make a big impact on you budget. Try adding one at a time, and be sure to track the difference it makes each month.

 

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Ms. Seeger is a VP/Financial Center Manager for UMB Arizona. She is responsible for leading the sales and client experience teams in the financial center as well as business development. She has 14 years of experience in the financial services industry. She is a member of the Young Professionals Scottsdale Cultural Council Committee and is takes an active leadership role in the Scottsdale community.



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Financial Checkups: A Tune-Up for Your Money

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Drivers know they need an oil change approximately every three months. Did you know that your money needs just as much attention as your motor? Ordinary expenses and extraordinary events can take their toll. Financial checkups help you avoid a breakdown.

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Financial checkups are about where you want to go in life. At the beginning of a new journey, a financial checkup will help you set your goals. Once you have your destination in mind, making a plan will plot the course to achieving your goals. When you’re on your way, a financial checkup will point you in the right direction to make sure you arrive at your destination on your pre-set schedule. If you take a wrong turn along the way, then a financial checkup can get you pointed in the right direction again.

No matter if you do a self check or work with your financial professional, your financial check should focus on where you want to go. No one knows your plans as well as you do. Some families dream about walking in the front door of their first home. Other people see themselves walking along a white sandy beach as they celebrate their retirement. Still others look forward to the day when their children will walk across the stage at their college graduation. Your financial plan should be as special as your dreams.

The steps involved in a good financial checkup depend on where you are in your life and where you want to go. Here are some suggestions to begin:

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  • Inventory – Make a list. Everything you own (assets) – everything you owe (liability) = your net worth.

–Is it what you thought it would be? Is it what you want it to be? Once you know your starting point, move on to the next step.

  • budget analysis will let you know where you’re headed. By looking at your cash flow, you will know where your money goes. If your money isn’t going towards your goals, you won’t make any progress.
  • Goal setting helps you look ahead to where you want to go. If you’re in a long-term relationship, don’t forget to talk with your significant other about his or her goals. Next, start thinking about how much money you need for your goals.

–If you want make a big purchase like a vehicle or a home, use our handy calculators which takes several factors into account to point you toward a monetary goal. (Tip: if you are clueless on what rates to plug in to the home-buying formula, contact  a real estate agent in your desired area to ask for current average rates as a starting point.)

–It’s a great idea to start saving for a home down payment even before starting the pre-approval process. If you already have a goal, reevaluate what you need to achieve it.

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Whether your destination features tropical beaches or three bedrooms, you can make sure you’re headed in the right direction with a financial checkup. Just like oil change, a little bit of financial maintenance will keep you on the road to success. 

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


John R. Moreau is a product manager for Consumer Loans and Deposits at UMB Financial Corporation. He joined UMB in 2008. Moreau earned a Bachelor of Science from Arizona State University and a Master’s in Economics from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.



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9 Financial Habits for Millennials

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Attention Millennials and those who hate labels but happen to be somewhere between 18 and 31. Here are nine habits to start today to give you more money at the end of the month. Come to think of it…these tips are universal, so watch no matter how young or old you are.

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Based on Nine Financial Resolutions for Millennials by Alexandra Talty. Forbes. December 10, 2013.

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


UMB Financial Corporation (Nasdaq: UMBF) is a financial services holding company headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., offering complete banking, payment solutions, asset servicing and institutional investment management to customers. UMB operates banking and wealth management centers throughout Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Arizona. It also has a loan production office in Texas. Subsidiaries of the holding company include mutual fund and alternative investment services groups, single-purpose companies that deal with brokerage services and insurance, and a registered investment advisor that manages the company's proprietary mutual funds and investment advisory accounts for institutional customers.



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Financial Word of the Week: Secured Loan and Collateral

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FWOTW
What is a secured loan?

The word secured brings to mind images of armored trucks and locked vaults. Both can guard cash and valuables, but not a loan.

A secured loan is a loan in which the borrower pledges property (e.g. a car, house or other property) to the lender to act as a source of repayment if the borrower cannot pay back the loan.  The property that is pledged is called collateral.  If you do not make the payments as required on the loan, the lender may sell the collateral to cover the amount owed.  Usually a lender will require security for high dollar loans or when your credit is not good enough.

The opposite of a secured loan is an unsecured loan, which does not require collateral.  A lender may give you an unsecured loan when the borrower’s credit history is strong and the amount loaned is for lesser amounts.  Most credit cards are unsecured loans.

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So what does this mean for me?

Secured loans can help you make large purchases and pay them off over time. If everyone had to save for the full purchase price of a house, most people could not afford to be a homeowner until middle age, if ever. Because of the security provided by collateral, banks can provide lower cost credit options through secured loans. Your first step before borrowing should be to do a financial checkup (stay tuned for next week’s blog post to learn more about that) and figure out if you’re financially ready for that large purchase.

 

Statistics Source: New York Fed Household Credit Quarterly Report

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.

 

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UMB Financial Corporation (Nasdaq: UMBF) is a financial services holding company headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., offering complete banking, payment solutions, asset servicing and institutional investment management to customers. UMB operates banking and wealth management centers throughout Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Arizona. It also has a loan production office in Texas. Subsidiaries of the holding company include mutual fund and alternative investment services groups, single-purpose companies that deal with brokerage services and insurance, and a registered investment advisor that manages the company's proprietary mutual funds and investment advisory accounts for institutional customers.



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The Credit Conversation: Now is the time to talk with your private banker

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Personal lending was a completely different world just a few short years ago. With shifts in the financial landscape, economic uncertainty and low interest rates, this is a good time for you to talk with a private banker and create a financial plan for the future—and the conversation should start with the topic of credit.

What was best for a person five years ago may not be the right choice now. Markets shift, and it’s important to occasionally survey the financial landscape with your private banker and possibly prepare for new opportunities.

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  • Work with advisors, not transaction managers.
    Sound financial planning is built on strong relationships, not individual transactions. Those relationships are built on knowledge and trust. A private banker should be acting as your advisor so they can help you make decisions that fit both your short- and long-term goals. Advisors will focus on tomorrow’s financial decisions, not today’s transaction.
  • Don’t make credit decisions with blinders on.
    No financial decision should be made without knowing the overall financial picture. In a trustworthy banking relationship, your private banker works alongside an entire team of experts to determine the best lending solutions for areas such as investment, tax and retirement purposes while also taking into consideration the overall wealth and estate plan.
  • Create a customized credit plan.
    It’s important to understand all the options. The truth: most people don’t proactively manage the borrowing side of their personal balance sheets when they plan to purchase a luxury vehicle, a business or a second home. That may stem from not knowing all of the varied credit options available.

    A private banker can help you explore and customize lending solutions to match risk and best leverage your assets. This provides you with options that may extend beyond the ones commonly offered in the marketplace.
  • Prepare for the unexpected with a line of credit.
    As the old saying goes, the time to borrow money is when you don’t need it. For example, a line of credit can be an invaluable tool to help you prepare for the unexpected and manage your overall financial picture. 

    Lines of credit can be used for a wide variety of purposes, including major ticket purchases, home improvements, education and medical bills. Additionally, lines of credit can provide you with peace of mind if and when unexpected expenses occur.

As you plan for your future, it’s important to talk with a professional who can ensure you are taking full advantage of the many credit solutions available to you while also providing you with advice related to your overall wealth plan.

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Ms. Stokes is a senior vice president and director of Private Banking at UMB. She is responsible for driving sales and relationship management activities. She works closely with the Wealth Management leadership team and regional presidents to grow business and helps to develop roles in wealth management, relationship management and presentation skills. She joined UMB in 2009 and has more than 30 years of experience in the financial services industry. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Missouri- Kansas City and a Bachelor of Arts from the graduate school of retail banking.



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Don’t Get Sacked Buying a Big Screen for the Big Game

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The big game is just around the corner and many people are thinking about buying a new big screen. You may think you’re getting a Hail Mary of a deal, but make sure you’re not getting blitzed. Here are some ways to score the TV you want and advance your financial goals down the field.

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  • Your budget is your playbook. Even if you can’t execute every play perfectly, the closer you can stick to your plan, the more points you’ll put up on the board.
  • Plan out your maximum price, the features you want and the size you want.

For example, when you start looking, you may be thinking about buying a 47-inch TV for $700, but then you find a great 47-inch TV marked down to $500. Then the helpful sales associate says that they have a 50-inch marked down from $1,000 to $750. They say that with the bigger TV you save 300 dollars instead of 250 and you’re still under your budget.

Watch out: they’re going for an interception!

If you have a budget and you spend the full amount, you did not save any money. You were never going to buy the $1,000 dollar 50-inch TV. When you came in the store, you were thinking you’d be happy with the 47-inch model. Remember the play you’re running, buy the size you originally wanted and you’ll have another $250 to put towards saving. 

  • In the NFL, players will watch hours of game tapes to learn about the other team. Do your homework by checking out customer reviews or other trusted sources.
  • That helpful sales associate may also offer you no payments or no interest for months. But even the worst referee would call a flag on this play. These deals often take the form of deferred interest, so if you don’t pay back the full amount in the given time frame, you could owe interest for the entire length of time. Every loan and credit card is different, so be sure to read the fine print before you sign on the dotted line. You may gain 10 yards on the play, but paying a high interest rate can set you back worse than a 15 yard penalty.

Remember, buying a TV is just one play in one game. For saving money, the season never ends. NFL players train their entire life to get to the big game. We save money our entire life to get to retirement. Don’t let spending sideline you. 


John R. Moreau is a product manager for Consumer Loans and Deposits at UMB Financial Corporation. He joined UMB in 2008. Moreau earned a Bachelor of Science from Arizona State University and a Master’s in Economics from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.



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