Financial Fitness Blog
April 2, 2020
Financial decisions can feel complex and hard even under normal circumstances. If the current market volatility has you questioning what are the “right” actions you should take now, you are not alone. Here are five concrete ways for you to jumpstart your financial wellness in the wake of the novel coronavirus.
Time for some facts. Markets fluctuate over time, and returns often come with risks. While COVID-19 is certainly adding unprecedented volatility to the stock market, it is critical to take a long-term view when it comes to investing.
Chances are that when you set up your 401k or IRA you picked a diverse asset portfolio, and selected a monthly contribution that you were comfortable with. Trust that you picked the right option, and stay the course. When considering your retirement, the strategy you had in place in February should be your continued strategy for the months ahead. Take a deep breath and trust that the market will bounce back.
When it comes to investing in your retirement, the best thing to do is invest regularly and aim to have a monthly contribution of 10-15% of your total income.
Have more questions about saving for retirement, and finding a plan that’s right for you? Check out our digital financial resources. https://yakimafed.everfi-next.net/student/dashboard/financialeducation/yakimafed-preparing-for-retirement/1714#401k-plans
Unexpected moments like these are precisely why an emergency fund of 3-6 months take-home pay is so critical. If you have an emergency fund to tap into, great job! If you are among the 40% of Americans who would find an unexpected $400 expense challenging to pay, know that you are not alone, and there is always time to build your savings.
To start, dive into your finances from the previous month. Take a hard look at non-essential spending. Eliminating even small expenses, especially monthly membership fees, can quickly add up over time. After you have cancelled or paused any non-essential recurring payments, create a budget tracker to identify where and how you spent your money. How much were you spending on dining out? Ridesharing? Online shopping? Once you have that breakdown, you can more accurately set goals around what you need to start, stop, and continue doing in order to build your emergency savings.
If you’re new to the world of budgeting, the 50 / 30 / 20 rule is a great place to start. Set a goal of how much money you want to contribute to your emergency savings each month, and don’t forget to celebrate when you meet (or exceed!) your goal.
For additional help with how to approach emergency savings, explore our online resources. https://yakimafed.everfi-next.net/student/dashboard/financialeducation/yakimafed-investing-in-your-future/1567#emergency-savings
Refinance a Loan
March 2020 marked a period of extreme market volatility, to say the least. To stabilize and protect the economy, the Federal Reserve slashed interest rates to record lows. These decade-low interest rates could save you money if you choose to refinance your mortgage, private student loans, or other debts. Keep in mind that federal and private student loans are different, and you could be losing benefits by adjusting your federal loan.
Traditional advice is to refinance when rates are 1-2% below your current rate. Make sure to keep an eye on your closing costs, so you make a decision that takes all costs into consideration.
For any procrastinators that have put off doing their taxes, good news – U.S. taxpayers have a three-month extension on the deadline to file their federal tax return due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Tax Day has been pushed from April 15th to July 15th, 2020.
If you are among the many Americans who typically receive a tax refund — that is, you paid more taxes to your state or federal government (through payroll withholding, for example) than your actual tax liability, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is advising that you file your taxes earlier so that you can get your money sooner.
Click here to learn more about taxes with this short, interactive overview. https://yakimafed.everfi-next.net/student/dashboard/financialeducation/yakimafed-building-financial-capability/1696#taxes-the-basics
You can only control what you can control.
The good news is that your financial decisions and behaviors are 100% under your control. Use this time at home to reset any riskier financial behaviors. This is a great time to start building healthy financial habits, while the lure of expensive purchases like events, sporting games, travel, fancy restaurants, etc. are off the table. Find your money zen – what spending habits make you happy? What do you spend money on that you have no memory of a month later? Which purchases sit on a shelf collecting dust or cluttering your space?
Take the time to build a budget and stick to it. Set up regular monthly investments. Build your emergency savings fund. Use this time as a bootcamp to become a top-notch steward of your financial present and future. You’ve got this!
To continue upskilling your financial capability, visit Yakima Federal’s Financial Fitness Center for our full suite of educational content. https://www.yakimafed.com/fitness
This blog content was created in partnership with EVERFI. Yakima Federal Savings and Loan is a member of EVERFI’s Financial Capability Network, and we are proud to deliver critical financial education to our communities.
January 1, 2020
This article was developed as part of Yakima Federal’s partnership with EVERFI, Inc.
5 Ways to Up Your Money Game this year!
Make a Budget and Stick to it. Budgeting is one of most effective ways to manage your money. Creating and monitoring a budget allows you to track your expenses, adapt to changes, and achieve your financial milestones. Budgeting can also help you save for emergencies and plan for the long run – including retirement.
Build Your Emergency Savings. Unexpected expenses happen more often than we like to think. According to a 2018 Bankrate study, more than half of Americans are not financially prepared to cover the costs that come with emergencies, such as illness, job loss, or even home and auto repairs.
Plan for Your Retirement Now. Less than half of Americans take the steps needed to set themselves up for a secure retirement. While saving for the future is easy to put off in favor of more immediate needs, the earlier you start, the more opportunity you’ll have to grow your savings over time.There’s no better time than now to start planning for retirement.
Get Ahead of Your Taxes. Taxes are confusing, and many people are bogged down by complex terms and lengthy paperwork. However, your taxes don’t need to be a source of anxiety. In fact, getting ahead of your taxes can reap many benefits, including lowering stress and having early access to a refund for year-long planning.
Take Control of Your Credit. Your credit score can have significant impacts on your financial security and flexibility. Many people have never had the opportunity to learn what a credit score is, what factors impact a credit score, and what actions they can take to make sure their score is healthy.