Archive for the ‘ joint accounts ’ Category

Tips to Fix Your Finances


Unless you’re born into it or inherit it, most of us have to work for the money we need. Some of us work more than one job to make it all come together. Sometimes we have to borrow money for the things we want or need like a home, car, wedding, or to finance an education. Sometimes people take on more debt in terms of credit cards and loans than the amount of money they bring in to make the payments.

Bob Marquette, our President & CEO, was recently featured on FOX 43’s “Fixing Your Finances“. He discussed how credit score works, why a good credit history impacts your ability to obtain a loan, and provided tips on how you can improve your own credit score.

Looking to fix your finances? Check out Bob’s segment by clicking below:

FOX43 Blog Post

Friendly reminder – Check Your Credit Report Annually

You are entitled to a free copy  of your credit report every year. It’s important to check your credit report regularly for accuracy, discrepancies, fraudulent activity, and identity theft. And federal law requires Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, the big three consumer credit reporting companies, to provide you  with a free credit report every 12 months if you request it. Get your free credit report today.

Need additional help? 

We offer our members access to money management and financial education services through GreenPath Financial Wellness.  As a member, you can receive assistance with:

  • Personal and family budgeting
  • Understanding your personal credit report and how to improve your score
  • Personal money management
  • Debt repayment
  • Avoiding bankruptcy, foreclosure, and repossession

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How to Handle Your Finances after a Divorce


divorce
While young adults are living together in increasing numbers, possibly avoiding the fate of being a split-up statistic, divorce rates have actually doubled over the past two decades for couples over 35, according to researchers at the University of Minnesota . When it comes to marriage, baby boomers may be two-time losers. But young or old, divorce, whether legal or laid back, can be an emotional — and financial – train wreck. Here’s how to get back on track.

The credit you deserve
After years of being in a joint financial partnership, it’s time to reestablish your individual credit identity. First, obtain a free copy of your credit report. The three major credit agencies are mandated by the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act to provide a free copy of your report once a year. The official website is annualcreditreport.com, or you can call 1-877-322-8228 to request yours.

In case you haven’t already; cancel any remaining joint credit cards so that neither former spouse is liable for the other’s debt going forward. If you don’t have a credit card in your own name, you might want to consider applying for one, in order to build your new credit history.

It’s also quite likely that you’ll be carrying a bit of debt with you out of the divorce, such as court costs and attorneys’ fees; perhaps some credit card debt, as well. You may be tempted to pay off those debts all at once with any cash acquired through a settlement, but it might be a better idea to preserve those dollars until you see how your after-marriage money situation works out.

Account for every account
Remember to update the names on all other accounts, such as life insurance beneficiaries and authorized users. You may also have to change the names on deeds and titles to property that was granted to you as part of the divorce settlement.  Assets that may need to be retitled can include investment accounts, vehicles and houses. You may also want to consider refinancing any debt or mortgages that you have acquired in the process. And of course, you’ll want all of your bank and credit union accounts in your name only.

A fresh beginning
If you received the home as part of your settlement, think about if it’s financially feasible – or even emotionally beneficial – to stay. Not only do you have to consider the mortgage payment, but all of the associated expenses, too: insurance, upkeep, taxes, utilities and all the rest. Children can play an especially important role in this decision, depending on their age, school activities and social involvement. From a financial perspective, you will also want to weigh the tax consequences of a sale, though as a single-filing taxpayer you may qualify to exclude $250,000 of the capital gain from your income.

Emergency and retirement savings
The financial transition may be difficult, however you want to remember your short-term and long-term goals. First, having three to six months of income saved for unexpected expenses can help you get back on your feet. A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) will guide the terms of transfer for any qualified retirement account, such as a 401(k) retirement plan or pension. If you are to receive such assets, a trustee-to-trustee transfer will prevent an unnecessary mandatory tax withholding.

Make a money plan
While few people may guide their personal finances by a formal budget, it’s a good idea to have at least a “back of the envelope” money plan. You may be facing new expenses on your own, such as rent or mortgage payments and even legal costs. The household income has almost certainly changed.  Consider all spending as “up for review.” Total up every fixed expense, determine what can stay and what has to go – and then tackle discretionary spending, at least until you can get into a new financial routine.

Divorce can force you to think ahead, not back. And in matters of money – that’s a good thing.

Note: If you are facing a life changing event such as divorce or are suddenly single for other reasons and you need money management assistance, consider GreenPath, a financial management service that can help keep you on track.

Check out our brochure, Getting Married/Suddenly Single

Guest Blogger: Hal Bundrick, NerdWallet

We’re Getting Married: Do We Need Joint Accounts?


bride & groom

Planning a wedding? Well then, you’ve got enough on your mind. But print out this article for after the vows. It’s about something you’ll need to discuss with your brand- new spouse once housekeeping begins: Do we need joint accounts?

A financial team
You are more than just roommates now; you’re a financial team. So it makes sense to combine assets and put everything in joint accounts, right? Perhaps. At least one joint account—for shared household expenses —can make sense. Both partners can contribute to the fund, either equally or on a ratio based on their earnings. Each can also maintain a separate account for personal expenses.

Maintaining a joint account can have its challenges, though —especially if each spouse is spending from it. Sharing details of every transaction is important, and having one spouse or the other in charge of “balancing the books”is a good idea. Of course, be prepared for the occasional, “Now, what is this $67 charge for?”

Joint savings and investment accounts are also a way for a couple to feel as if they are building a future together —though IRAs will remain separate, by law. Assets gained before the partners became a couple, such as inheritances, usually remain separate as well, with beneficiary designations in wills and retirement accounts easily changed to reflect the new relationship.

Dealing with debt
Debt can be another matter. Shared debt for a new sofa to replace that ragged futon is fine, but the financial baggage from the past should continue to be held separately — including such things as student loans, car loans and credit card balances. As debt is retired, new purchases can be combined for joint benefit.

It is often assumed that credit is automatically combined after marriage, but that is not necessarily the case. Separate credit cards can be maintained and paid individually, while a joint credit card can be issued for spouses to share. This is especially important if one or the other has a checkered credit history. Keeping that scarred score quarantined will allow the other partner to maintain their buying power.

Spouses are not generally responsible for the individual debts of their partner, unless payments are for “family expenses”—in that case, in some states, both spouses can be held responsible. Spousal debt can also be transferred to a marital partner in community property states.

By the numbers
In years past, it was common for married couples to enter into a total money merger upon marriage. These days, it’s more common for couples that have joint bank accounts to also maintain individual accounts. Combining assets into a joint account can allow for a higher balance, which credit unions often reward with premium perks and fee discounts.But keeping separate accounts can allow for a bit of independence.

The question of single or joint accounts —or both —may come down to a single question: Which one of you is the most adept at handling money? For some married couples, the answer can be obvious. He can’t add single-digit numbers in his head, while she can compute the tax on a purchase while reaching in her purse for the exact change.

Usually, the fewer the accounts, the fewer the fees —and perhaps the better the interest rate on deposits. And, if both spouses work, combining paychecks into joint accounts can enable a turbo-charged savings plan: pay bills with one salary; save the other.

As newlyweds, the possibilities are endless.

Note:  Members 1st FCU has partnered with GreenPath, a financial management program to help individuals and couples who may have budgeting, debt management and trouble managing their checking accounts.  In addition, stop by any branch location to pick up a copy of our brochure, “His, Hers, Mine, Ours” that offers additional insight when couples decide to marry.

 Guest Blogger: Hal Bundrick, NerdWallet

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