The Diversified Blog

A wealth management blog dedicated to creating a long lasting sustainable retirement.

Starting Out: Begin Funding for Your Financial Security

Congratulations! You’ve graduated from school and landed a job. Your salary, however, is limited, and you don't have much money (if any) left at the end of the month. So where can you find money to save? And, once you find it, where should this cash go?

Here are some ways to help free up the money you need for current expenses, financial protection, and future investments -- all without pushing the panic button.

Get Out From Under

For most young adults, paying down debt is the first step toward freeing up cash for the financial protection they need. If you’re spending more than you make, think about areas where you can cut back. Don't rule out getting a less expensive apartment, roommates, or trading in a more expensive car for a secondhand model. Other expenses that could be trimmed include dining out, entertainment, and vacations.

If you owe balances on high-rate credit cards, look into obtaining a low-interest credit card or bank loan and transferring your existing balances. Then plan to pay as much as you can each month to reduce the total balance, and try to avoid adding new charges.

If you have student loans, there's also help to make paying them back easier. You may be eligible to reduce these payments if you qualify for the Federal Direct Consolidation Loan program. Though the program would lengthen the payment time somewhat, it could also free up extra cash each month to apply to your higher-interest consumer debt. The program can be reached at 800-557-7392.

What You Really Should Buy

How would you pay the bills if your paychecks suddenly stopped? That's when you turn to insurance and personal savings -- two items you should “buy” before considering future big-ticket purchases.

Health insurance is your first priority. Health care insurance is now also mandatory under the Affordable Care Act. If you're not covered under an employer plan, look into the new state or national health insurance exchanges, which offer a variety of coverage options and providers to choose from. You may also qualify for a subsidy if your taxable income is under 400% of the federal poverty level.

Life insurance is the next logical step, but may only be a concern if you have dependents.

Disability insurance should be another consideration. In fact, government statistics estimate that just over 25% of today's 20-year-olds will become disabled before they retire. 1  Disability insurance will replace a portion of your income if you can't work for an extended period due to illness or injury. If you can't get this through your employer, call individual insurance companies to compare rates.

Build a Cash Reserve

If you should ever become disabled or lose your job, you'll also need savings to fall back on until paychecks start up again. Try to save at least three months' worth of living expenses in an easy-to- access "liquid" account, which includes a checking or savings account. Saving up emergency cash is easier if your financial institution has an automatic payroll savings plan. These plans automatically transfer a designated amount of your salary each pay period -- before you see your paycheck -- directly into your account.

To get the best rate on your liquid savings, look into putting part of this nest egg into money market funds. Money market funds invest in Treasury bills, short-term corporate loans, and other low-risk instruments that typically pay higher returns than savings accounts. These funds strive to maintain a stable $1 per share value, but unlike FDIC-insured bank accounts, can't guarantee they won't lose money. 2

Some money market funds may require a minimum initial investment of $1,000 or more. If so, you'll need to build some savings first. Once you do, you can get an idea of what the top-earning money market funds are paying by referring to iMoneyNet, which publishes current yields. Many newspapers also publish yields on a regular basis.


Build Your Financial Future

Some long-term financial opportunities are too good to put off, even if you are still building a cache for current living expenses.

One of the best deals is an employer-sponsored retirement plan such as a 401(k) plan, if available. These tax-advantaged plans allow you to make pretax contributions, and taxes aren't owed on any earnings until they're withdrawn. What's more, new Roth-style plans allow for after-tax contributions and tax-free withdrawals in retirement, provided certain eligibility requirements are met. Another big plus is direct contributions from each paycheck so you won't miss the money as well as possible employer matches on a portion of your contributions.

Don't underestimate the potential power of tax savings. If you invested $100 per month into one of these accounts and it earned an 8% return compounded annually, you would have $146,815 in 30 years -- nearly $50,000 more than if the money were taxed annually at 25%. 3 Bear in mind, however, that you will have to pay taxes on the retirement plan savings when you take withdrawals. If you took a lump-sum withdrawal and paid a 25% tax rate, you'd have $110,111, which is still more than the balance you'd have in a taxable account.

If you're already participating, think about either increasing contributions now or with each raise and promotion.

If a 401(k) isn't available to you, shop around for individual retirement accounts (IRAs), both traditional and Roth, at banks or mutual fund firms. In 2016, you can contribute up to $5,500 to traditional IRAs or Roth IRAs. Generally, contributions to and income earned on traditional IRAs are tax deferred until retirement; Roth IRA contributions are made after taxes, but earnings thereon can be withdrawn tax free upon retirement. Note that certain eligibility requirements apply and nonqualified taxable withdrawals made before age 59½ are subject to a 10% additional federal tax.

Stop Waiting for the Next Paycheck

Beginning your working life with good financial decisions doesn't call for complex moves. It does require discipline and a long-term outlook. This commitment can help get you out of debt and keep you from a paycheck-to- paycheck lifestyle.


Source(s):

1.  Social Security Administration, Fact Sheet, March 2014.

2.  An investment in a money market fund is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency. Although the fund seeks to preserve the value of your investment at $1.00 per share, it is possible to lose money by investing in the fund.

3.  This hypothetical example is for illustrative purposes only. It does not represent the performance of any actual investment.


Required Attribution

Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by DST Systems, Inc. or its sources, neither DST Systems, Inc. nor its sources guarantees the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or availability of any information and is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for the results obtained from the use of such information. In no event shall DST Systems, Inc. be liable for any indirect, special or consequential damages in connection with subscriber's or others' use of the content.

© 2017 DST Systems, Inc. Reproduction in whole or in part prohibited, except by permission. All rights reserved. Not responsible for any errors or omissions.


Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

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Back to School Bonus

Families with students heading off to college this fall take note: The interest rates on all newly-issued federal loans have been reduced for the coming academic year -- but those reductions are much more pronounced for student borrowers than for their parents.1

 

For instance, the interest rate on Stafford subsidized and unsubsidized loans for undergraduates will decline to 3.76% from 4.29% last year.1 For graduate students, the Stafford loan rate will fall from 5.84% to 5.31% for the coming academic year.1 In contrast, the rate on Federal PLUS loans for parents is a full percentage point higher at 6.31%.1

 

That rate is down from 6.84% for PLUS loans issued for the 2015-2016 academic year, but it still will nearly double the cumulative interest paid on a $50,000 loan over 20 years when compared with an undergraduate Stafford loan.1 (Note that rates are set each year for new loans, but those rates remain fixed for the life of the loan.)

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Paying Off Student Loans

Actively managing your debt is an important step, and your student debt may be one of the biggest financial obligations you have. There are many strategies that could help you manage student loans efficiently. Here is a checklist.

•  Choose a federal loan repayment plan that fits your circumstances:

o  The Standard Repayment Plan requires a fixed payment of at least $50 per month and is offered for terms up to 10 years. Borrowers are likely to pay less interest for this repayment plan than for others.

o  The Graduated Repayment Plan starts with a reduced payment that is fixed for a set period, and then is increased on a predetermined schedule. Compared to the standard plan, a borrower is likely to end up paying more in interest over the life of the loan.

o  The Extended Repayment Plan allows loans to be repaid over a period of up to 25 years. Payments may be fixed or graduated. In both cases, payments will be lower than the comparable 10-year programs, but total costs could be higher. This program is complex and has specific eligibility requirements. See the Extended Repayment Plan page on the U.S. Department of Education website for details.

o  The Income-Based Repayment Plan (IBR), the Pay as You Earn Repayment Plan, the Income-Contingent Repayment Plan (ICR) and the Income-Sensitive Repayment Plan offer different combinations of payment deferral and debt forgiveness based on your income and other factors. You may be asked to document financial hardship and meet other eligibility requirements. See the U.S. Department of Education's pages on income-driven repayment plans and income-sensitive repayment plans for more information.

•  Take an inventory of your debt. How much do you owe on bank and store credit cards? On your home mortgage and home equity credit lines? On car loans? Any other loans? Consider paying extra each month to reduce the loans with the highest interest rates first, followed by those with the largest balances.

•  Free up resources by cutting costs. Consider eating out less, reducing snacks on the go, and carpooling or using mass transit instead of driving to work. You may also be able to cut your housing costs, put off vacations and reduce clothing purchases.

•  Think about enhancing your income. A second job? A part-time business opportunity?

•  Consider jobs that offer opportunities for subsidies or debt forgiveness.

o  Federal civil service employees may be eligible for up to $10,000 a year for paying back federal student loans. See the U.S. Office of Personnel Management's Student Loan Repayment Program for more information.

o  Nurses working in underserved areas may be eligible for loan assistance through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program.

o  Service members in the U.S. Armed Forces are eligible for support. Check out the service-specific programs offered by the Air Force, the Army, the National Guard and the Navy.

o  Teachers can consider programs such as Teach for America and the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program.

•  Sign up for automatic loan payments. Many loans offer discounted interest rates for setting up automatic electronic payments on a predetermined schedule. A reduction of 0.25% per year may look small, but over the life of a 20-year loan, it can reduce your total interest cost by hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

•  A last resort is seeking loan deferment or forbearance. Students facing significant financial hardship may be able to put off loan interest or principal payments. To see whether you might qualify, look to the U.S. Department of Education's information on Deferment and Forbearance.


Required Attribution


Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by Wealth Management Systems Inc. or its sources, neither Wealth Management Systems Inc. nor its sources guarantees the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or availability of any information and is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for the results obtained from the use of such information. In no event shall Wealth Management Systems Inc. be liable for any indirect, special or consequential damages in connection with subscriber's or others' use of the content.

© 2016 DST Systems, Inc. Reproduction in whole or in part prohibited, except by permission. All rights reserved. Not responsible for any errors or omissions.


Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

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