Alpine Bank's Financial News · Vol.4 · No.1 · January 2017
Setting Realistic Financial Goals
On New Yearís Day, millions of Americans resolve to get into shape and lose weight, yet within just a couple of weeks, many give up and abandon their goals. One of the biggest problems with most New Yearís resolutions is that few people set realistic goalsóan equally big problem when it comes to setting financial goals.
Whether saving for a short-term or long-term goal, it is important to make sure that the goals you set are realistic and achievable, especially if your plans center around those goals. From saving for a vacation to a childís education, the first thing you should figure out is how much you will need to save to reach your goal. If your goal is to purchase something specific, such as a car or a house, you should research how much you can expect to spendóincluding any ongoing maintenance costs. In the case of less straightforward things like a college education for a child, or retirement savings, you are usually best served by speaking with a financial advisor about how much you should be saving annually to make reaching your goal more likely.
Regardless of what you are saving for, keep in mind that there will always be unexpected expenses or financial setbacks that will emergeóanything from a car repair to an unforeseen layoff. Given this inevitability, at the same time you begin working toward a financial goal, you should also begin socking away money in a rainy day fund each month.
While each personís individual circumstances will determine how much they can comfortably afford to save on a regular basis, everyone should aim to set aside at least 10 percent of their income, if possible. Another key part of reaching savings goals is regularly assessing where you are in relation to the goals you have set and whether you need to alter your plans.
Kathryn K. Herzog
Senior Vice President
Products of Alpine Bank's Wealth Management service are not FDIC insured, may lose value, and are not bank guaranteed.
A veteran of the department, Kathy returns to the bank from semi-retirement to assist the staff and business development team as it grows and expands into new and existing markets. Kathy brings expertise in client and investment management, sales and marketing, charitable giving and strategic planning. Her many years of management and leadership in both the financial industry and higher education make her uniquely qualified to mentor and guide the officer team in an exciting period of growth. In addition to wealth management, her background includes leadership positions in retail banking, bank marketing, university development and fundraising. She is a graduate of Ohio University and many professional schools and programs.
Financial Literacy for Teens and Beyond
Income and Education
In general, people earn higher incomes with higher levels of education. That means there is a direct relationship between the education you receive and the income you receive. For example, Sue, who is graduating with a degree in chemical engineering, has secured a job with a starting salary of $63,500. This is a lot of money for a 22-year-old person to make. One reason Sue has been offered a high salary is because of her major, chemical engineering. There are not many people who graduate with this degree so the demand for chemical engineers is high.
Sueís younger sister Ellie has decided that college is not for her and she is already working full time at the age of 19. As a high school graduate, the job opportunities available to her will be different than Sueís.
On average, workers with a bachelorís degree from college earn $20,000 per year more than workers with a high school degree. Over a career, this difference can amount to a million dollars!
As you can see, an education is a great investment for most people. That is why the majority of students attending college or receiving additional training after high school are willing to have some amount of student loans to further their education.
What field you get your degree in and the industry you work in also matters. College graduates with bachelorís degrees in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math, on average, earn more than graduates with college degrees in fields such as psychology and art history. A bachelorís degree is an academic degree generally awarded for four years of study. A graduate degree is also an academic degree that is completed after a bachelorís degree, generally for an additional two years of study for a masterís degree.
Money isnít everything. However, being able to support yourself and your future family is important. Being knowledgeable about the potential income of various jobs and careers you may want to pursue after high school can help you to make the decision that is best for you.
(Source: Kirsten Petre McDaniel, I am Financial Knowledge. www.youthentity.org)
Your Budget, Your Way
Budgeting can either make or break your financial stability. Financial mistakes occur from time to time, so it is important to know how to reduce your chances of making them and having a solid budget will help you maintain your financial freedom. Letís take a look at five critical tips to follow to stay on the right course when it comes to budgeting:
Tip #1: Be Flexible. Life happens, which can throw off your budget. For example, you get sick and have to pay medical bills you didnít anticipate, or your car needs new tires or maintenance work. Keep your head up high and learn how to move things around in order to meet your overall budgeting goals.
Tip #2: Plan for Yearly Expenses. Many people plan for reoccurring monthly expenses and bills, including groceries, utilities, gas, etc. However, many people forget to budget yearly expenses, such as property taxes and insurance. Itís easy to forget about bills that donít show up at your door every month, but youíre probably better off paying the total bill at once, since most companies charge an extra fee for monthly payments. Itís also good to remember things like birthday gifts, medical care, dental care, school supplies and pet care, among others.
Tip #3: Write Down Your Expenses. If you donít know where your money is going, itís impossible to stick to your budget. Keep track of every purchase you make by either saving your receipts or using an automated money management program, such as Quicken® or other online programs through your financial institution. Update your expenses daily so you can manage them regularly. Donít procrastinateóit will all add up quickly!
Tip #4: Rethink Frugality. Think of budgeting like going on a diet. If you are too careful and only do the minimum, youíll binge at some point, throwing all your hard work down the drain. Itís okay to treat yourself occasionallyóin fact, you should budget to do so!
Tip #5: Avoid Impulse Buying. If you buy a pack of gum in the checkout lane every time you go to the grocery store, and you go to the grocery store twice a week, that seemingly inconsequential purchase is costing you about $8 a month (or almost $100 a year). No matter how inexpensive these impulse buys are, they will add up eventually. There's nothing wrong with buying gum, but if you notice by reviewing your budget that you're buying it at a rate of 52 packs a year, you can plan to buy your gum in bulk at a big box store for a third of the price and save money. Make sure to write down even these small purchases to help you spend your money wisely.
Your Change Matters!
Saving money just got easier with Alpine Bankís Change Matters®. This program rounds up each debit card transaction to the next whole dollar. Watch that extra change add up in your Alpine Bank savings account, fast! Learn more.
Green Your Commute
Take the junk out of your trunk! Did you know that extra items in your car can decrease fuel efficiency? Fuel consumption is increased by 1 to 2 percent for every extra 100 pounds you carry. When you are aware of how much you are putting in the car, you can save money at the pump.