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Financial Words of Wisdom for Graduates!

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Time is money—literally. For a recent graduate, time might also seem like an abundant resource, with many thinking they have plenty of time to save for their future – later. The traps of bad credit and debt snare many unsuspecting young adults and cling to their financial history for years. Here are some financial tips to help those starting out in their independent adult lives whether graduating from high school or college:

~ Set goals for yourself. Financial goals help keep you focused and help you decide where you really want to go.

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~ Create an emergency fund. Be prepared for the unexpected financial challenge. Before you begin investing, set aside at least 3 months living expenses (including car payments, bills, entertainment, etc…) to protect you should you lose your job or suffer some unexpected health issue that affects your ability to work.

~ Use credit wisely. The credit record you establish now will either help you or haunt you for years. Bad credit will cost you tremendously over time by forcing you to pay higher interest for loans and credit cards; potentially disqualifying you from buying a home, and by preventing you from obtaining funding should you decide to go into business for yourself. If you have student loans, make sure you are making payments on them as required. Make more than the minimum payment on your credit cards, or pay them off in full monthly. Pull your credit report for review at least annually. Live within your means. Don’t spend money you don’t have, and learn to separate your true needs from your wants and desires. Put your attention toward meeting your needs and responsibilities first.

~ Carefully weigh the decision to use student loans – If starting college and considering using student loans to attend a more expensive college than you can afford, carefully consider the long-term impact of that debt on your adult lifestyle. Think about what you could be doing in your future with the money you will be paying for years on your student loans. Is it really worth having to pay chunks of your income toward student loans every month for many years after you graduate? How will that impact your ability to live the adult life you imagine for yourself? Would it be wise to find ways to lower your overall college expenses to lessen the impact of loans on your future. One solution could be to consider a community college or in-state school for at least your first two years of college. There are many ways to lessen your college expenses, starting with maintaining good grades in high school.

~ We caution parents about co-signing for student loans. LendEDU, an online marketplace for student loans and refinancing recently did a survey and found that nearly 57% of parents said their credit score has been negatively affected by co-signing for a student loan, and 58% said their children have asked them for help making payments. The survey said that 34% of parents responded that co-signing has hurt their ability to qualify for their own mortgages, auto loans, and other types of financing.

~ Max out your company’s 401K. Participate in any 401k or similar retirement plan your employer offers. If they match your contributions, put in enough to get the full amount they will match, as this is free money! If your employer doesn’t offer a 401(k), ask them why. We can help a small business establish a plan for their employees. If you are in a 401(k) plan, make sure you have selected diversified funds within the account – don’t put all your eggs in one basket, especially the employer stock basket. For most people, this is the best way to start investing for your future.

~ If you are ready to settle down, and have a stable income or expect continued income growth, consider buying instead of renting. Housing prices and interest rates are both low, but rising, making now a good time for many to become home owners. Make sure you are ready to take on the responsibility for the time and expense of caring for and maintaining your home inside and out. If you are truly ready, then home ownership also may provide you with mortgage interest tax deductions and the opportunity to build equity in real estate.

~ Learn the power of growth and start early. Even relatively small amounts of money can grow into an impressive figure if you start now. With 40+ years before retirement on your side, you have time to grow your assets through compounding and investment earnings potentially achieved through growth-oriented equity investments. No 401k plan offered at work or wanting to establish investments outside of your 401k? Consult a financial professional about setting up an IRA, Roth IRA or other type of investment account and start investing now for long-term growth.

To further convince you of the power of growth, you’d have to save almost $29,000 a year or about $2417 a month for 35 years to have a million dollars for retirement in the absence of compounded growth on your assets. With growth, you can potentially have $1million in 35 years by saving less than half the monthly amount – only $1094 monthly if you achieve a 4% growth rate on your investments. Or you can potentially achieve a $1million portfolio within a much shorter 15 years by saving $2890 monthly at a higher 8% rate of return. Compounded growth makes a big difference over time. See the chart below for more examples of how you can potentially reach a million dollars with these monthly investment amounts:
GFR Power of Growth Chart

~ Put “surprise” cash into savings. If you come into extra or unexpected money – a company bonus, a holiday gift from a relative, an inheritance, or all that graduation money you have rolling in – always set aside at least a portion for your future.

If you are looking to get started early with a long-term investment plan, and a focus on your financial future, we can help. Contact 770.931.1414 to schedule a free consultation to review your situation in person, or visit our website at www.rogersgreen.com.

Roger S. Green is an independent Investment Advisor Representative offering securities and advisory services through Cetera Advisors LLC, a Registered Investment Advisor and Broker/Dealer, member FINRA, SIPC. Green Financial and Cetera Advisors are not affiliated. Roger’s office is located at 3700 Crestwood Parkway, Duluth, GA 30096.

 



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Martin Lewis issues guidance on using credit cards to build ratings – best deals | Personal Finance | Finance

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Martin Lewis regularly urges savers to use caution when utilising debt themed products but at the same time, he acknowledges the need for a decent credit rating to get by financially. Today, the Money Saving Expert was questioned by viewer Miranda on how one can build their credit rating in difficult circumstances.

“What I’d then like you to do is go and do £50 a month of normal spending on it, things you’d buy anyway.

“[Then] Make sure you pay the card off in full every month, preferably by direct debit so you’re never missing it because the interest rate is hideous.

“That way you won’t pay any interest.

“You do that for a year, you’ll start to build that credit history, showing them you’re a good credit citizen.

“Then you’ll be able to move into the sort of more normal credit card range.

“So, bizarrely, to get credit you need credit. What credit will you get? Bad credit, go get the bad credit just make sure it doesn’t cost you.”

Consumers of all kinds may not have the best options at the moment as recent analysis from moneyfacts.co.uk revealed.

In mid-November, they detailed that a number of high street banks have cut the perks and interest on a number of their current account deals.

On top of this, the Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Bank made credit interest cuts of up to 0.5 percent.

Rachel Springall, a Finance Expert at moneyfacts.co.uk commented on the few options consumers and savers currently have available: “Clearly, it is vital consumers decide carefully if now is the time to switch, but if they wait too long, they may well miss out on a free cash switching perk.

“At present, providers will be assessing how they can sustain any lucrative offers in light of the pandemic.

“With this in mind, we could well see more changes in the months to come and if this does indeed occur, consumers would be wise to review whether their account is still worth keeping.”



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Should you use a balance transfer to pay off debt?

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Should you use a balance transfer to pay off debt?
Image source: Getty Images.


A balance transfer might be the solution if you have debts and want to gain control over your finances. But whether a balance transfer is right for you will depend on a number of factors.

Things to consider before using a balance transfer

The size of your debt

If you want to apply for a balance transfer credit card, be aware that most providers will allow you to transfer up to 90% of your credit limit.

Your credit limit will be dependent on your own personal circumstances, including your salary, your credit history and your residential status (homeowner or renter).

Be realistic about your debt. For example, if you earn £25,000 per year and you have a debt of more than £15,000, a balance transfer might not be cheapest way to pay the debt.

The time taken to pay the debt

The main advantage of a balance transfer credit card is that many offer an interest-free period on the balance. So, if you can pay off your balance in that period, you won’t accrue any further interest charges.

However, these periods typically range from 18 to 24 months, so if you think you will need more time to pay the debt, you may need to factor in additional interest charges when the interest-free period ends.

Whether or not a balance transfer is the right debt payment solution will depend on your personal circumstances. Check our balance transfer calculator if you want to work out how much a balance transfer could save you in interest payments.

Your credit score

The advantage of a good credit score cannot be underestimated in this situation.

When applying for a balance transfer credit card, the company will check your credit score. Based on this score, they could refuse your application.

Even if you are accepted, if you have a bad credit score they could reduce your credit limit. Ultimately, this will determine the benefit of a balance transfer as a suitable debt payment solution.

If you think your credit score might be a problem, it’s worth checking with the credit reference agencies before applying. That way you can avoid any nasty surprises.

There are three main consumer credit reference agencies in the UK. They are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion (Noodle).

Alternative solutions to balance transfers

You could still use a balance transfer even if the size of your debt is bigger than the credit limit.

Transferring part of the debt would enable you to benefit from any interest-free period, where applicable.

Alternatively, if you have multiple debts, you could consolidate all of your debts so that you can make a single regular payment. If necessary, you could do this using an unsecured personal loan over a period longer than 24 months.

Take home

Look at your own personal circumstances with a critical eye. Remember that you need to factor in living expenses when thinking about how long it will take you to pay off your debt.

Balance transfers are a useful method for debt repayment, but be aware that credit cards are an expensive way to borrow money. Take full advantage of any 0% deals wherever possible. Check out our list of the best 0% credit cards.


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Turn credit declines into a win-win | 2020-11-20

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The pandemic has left millions of people needing credit at a time when lending standards are tightening. The result is a lose-lose situation—the consumer gets a bad credit decline experience and the credit union misses out on a lending opportunity. How can this be turned into a win-win?

The case for coaching

Let’s start by deconstructing the credit decline process: The consumer is first encouraged to apply. The application process can be invasive, requiring significant time commitment and thoughtful inputs from the applicant.

After all that, many consumers are declined with a form letter with little to no advice on actions the applicant can take to improve their credit strength. It is no wonder that credit declines receive a poor Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 50 or often much worse.

On the flip side, forward-looking credit unions provide post-decline credit advice. This is a compelling opportunity for several reasons:

  • Improved customer satisfaction. One financial institution learned that simply offering personalized coaching, regardless of whether or not consumers used it, increased their customer satisfaction by double digits.
  • Future lending opportunities. Post-decline financial coaching can position members for borrowing needs even beyond the product for which they were initially declined.
  • Increased trust. Quality financial advice helps build trust. A J.D. Power study noted that, of the 58% of customers who desire advice from financial institutions, only 12% receive it. When consumers do receive helpful advice, more than 90% report a high level of trust in their financial institution.

Provide cost-effective, high-quality advice

AI-powered virtual coaching tools can help credit unions turn declines into opportunities. Such coaches can deliver step-by-step guidance and personalized advice experiences. The added benefit is easy and consistent compliance, enabled by automation.

AI-based solutions are even more powerful when they follow coaching best practices:

  • Bite-sized simplicity. Advice is most effective when it is reinforced with small action steps to gradually nurture members without overwhelming them. This approach helps the member build momentum and confidence.
  • Plain language. Deliver advice in friendly, jargon-free language.
  • Behavioral nudges. Best-practice nudges help customers make progress on their action plan. These nudges emulate a human coach, providing motivational reminders and celebrating progress.
  • Gamification. A digital coach can infuse fun into the financial wellness journey with challenges and rewards like contests, badges, and gifts.

Virtual financial coaching, starting with reversing credit declines, represents a huge market opportunity for credit unions. To help credit unions tap into that opportunity, eGain, an award-winning AI and digital engagement pioneer, and GreenPath, a leading financial wellness nonprofit, have partnered to create the industry’s first virtual financial coach. To learn more, visit egain.com.

EVAN SIEGEL is vice president of financial services AI at eGain.

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