Blog   Tagged ‘financial goals’

Credit Card Debt vs. Emergency Funds

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You probably already realize the importance of keeping an emergency fund for unforeseen events such as auto repairs or health issues. However, actually saving for the unexpected can be a challenge. By not planning, you can put yourself at risk for financial disaster.

A recent poll from Bankrate revealed 24 percent of Americans have more credit card debt than they have in their emergency savings. Most people, 58 percent, who don’t struggle with credit card debt still fall short when it comes to having a strong emergency fund.

emergency savings vs. credit card debt

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Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst at Bankrate, can’t stress enough the poor situation consumers are putting themselves into. “These numbers mean that three out of every eight Americans are teetering on the edge of financial disaster,” says McBride.

How to manage credit card debt

While there isn’t one definitive way to erase credit card debt in a hurry, below are a few helpful tips to expedite the process.

  1. Tackle high interest debt first
    It may be easier for you to stick with a debt payoff goal if you attack the card with the lowest balance. However, most financial experts agree that the best practice is to pay down the balance on the highest interest card first.
  2. Double or triple payments
    Consider doubling or tripling your monthly payments, or apply tax refunds towards outstanding balances. The faster you can tackle your highest interest card, the sooner you will reach a debt-free lifestyle.
  3. Stick with your plan
    When faced with high debt, it is critical to track and budget expenses to monitor progress and keep spending habits under control. Once the highest-interest card reaches a balance of zero, it’s time to move on to the next highest interest card.
  4. Build an emergency savings
    Building an emergency fund is just as important as getting debt under control. Tuck away money each month and set aside for emergencies only. Do this even if it means paying less on your debt payments. Most experts agree that a healthy emergency fund equals at least six months of living expenses.

Getting credit card debt under control requires excellent planning, dedication and patience. Once goals are met, it is important to keep moving forward with healthy spending and savings habits.  Being financially prepared for life’s unexpected events is smart. Having peace of mind is priceless.

 

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.


Em Sullivan is an AVP Product Manager for UMB Payment Solutions. She joined UMB in 2011 and is responsible for managing consumer credit card activities, including product development, product Marketing, partner implementation & on-boarding.



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This year, resolve to think small

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Every year, we make resolutions. We dream of all the goals we want to achieve and the objectives we want to accomplish. And every year, life gets in the way. We resolve this will be the year we get in shape, but our resolve freezes in the January cold. We pledge that this will be the year we get organized, but our goal gets lost among the clutter. We swear that this will be the year we start saving for retirement, but our budget runs short as bills loom large.

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Soon, our resolutions fall aside as we try to keep up with the day to day. Our problems seem so big and our time so small. There is so much to do, so many problems to solve. What can we do? Where should we start? How can we even get started? Every year, our resolutions crumble and our problems remain.

This year, don’t try to solve the big problems.

This year, resolve to think small.

Yes, small. Small is beautiful. Small is doable. Small is possible.

If you want to save money, don’t think “I want to save for retirement.” Saving for retirement is a lifelong goal, not something you can do in a year.  Instead, start small. First, ask yourself if you have an emergency fund. Everyone should save at least 3-6 months’ worth of income for emergencies.  If you do not have any savings, 3-6 months of income can seem like a lot. Don’t try to save it all at once. Ask yourself what you can do.

Can you save 10 percent of January’s pay? Or maybe just $100 dollars?

Find an amount that you believe you can save. Every payday, take half of that goal amount and put it in a Savings account. Then, in February, ask yourself if you can increase how much you save. If you saved $100 in January, can you save $120 in February? That’s only $10 more per paycheck, $5 per week. It’s only one less fast food meal, one less trip to Starbucks. Think about the small expenses. Every time you cut back a little more, you can save that much more. Keep it up and soon you’ll have an emergency fund saved.

No matter what your goals are for 2014, know that every small step counts toward accomplishing your goal.


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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Financial planning is a marathon, not a sprint

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Whether you have just started the race and you are at the beginning of your career, or you are closing in on the finish line of retirement, you should stay on track with your financial planning. Much like running a marathon is different than a sprint, planning long-term financial goals is different than simply paying your bills every month. A knowledgeable financial partner can coach you through this and make the process seem less daunting. Similar to a mile marker showing you what point you are at in a marathon, certain life events signal when and how you should financially prepare.

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  • Just starting out

    Start saving as soon as possible to set the pace for this long-distance run. Consider opening a savings account and set aside whatever you can from each paycheck. With most banks, you can set up an automatic transfer from your checking account to a savings account so you won’t even have to think about it. Also consider a retirement fund—either a 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored plan, or an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) separate from your current job.

  • Planning for a family

    Thinking about starting a family? This is an important decision and one that you must be prepared for financially. Much like training before you run a marathon, adjusting your budget and saving for having kids is important. Paying for medical bills when the baby is born or financing adoption fees is no simple task. Not to mention childcare and other expenses related to children once you have them. Bottles, diapers, clothes, toys, it all starts to add up quickly!

  • Children’s education

    If your children plan to pursue higher education after high school, you will need to save for that expense. A four-year degree is estimated to cost $442,697.85 for students enrolling in 2031 if tuition increases seven percent per year. Does that number make you nervous? Planning ahead and starting to save when your children are born will help with some of that anxiety.

  • Pre-retirement

    As you see the retirement finish line in the distance, it is important to meet with your financial partner(s) to understand when you can retire and feel comfortable with your finances at that time. Ask how your retirement fund(s) is/are performing and whether or not you need to increase/decrease your contributions. Want to spend your retirement vacationing at that lake house you have always dreamed of? It doesn’t have to be a dream if you start budgeting now.

  • Post-retirement

    Now it’s time for the post-run cool down and stretch. After you retire, it is more important than ever to monitor your finances. You aren’t contributing to a retirement fund or planning to pay for your children’s college; instead you are now working on a fixed income and have to ensure that it will last for the rest of your life.

Marathon runners train very hard for a long time to prepare for those 26.2 miles. Often they don’t do it alone and will work with a trainer who helps them through the preparation. Utilize the expertise available at your bank and start preparing for the long-term so you can reach the finish line when and how you want.

 

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. Miles serves as assistant vice president and banking center manager in Denver. He is also a member of the UMB Consumer Advocate Team. He joined UMB in October of 2007. He is currently studying Organizational Leadership at Colorado State University.



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