UCCU Book Review – The Motivation Myth: How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up to Win

When we see people achieving the incredible, we usually assume they were born with greater talents than we possess. Maybe it’s more willpower, an innate talent or resilience that pushes them ahead. Or maybe they simply have a tremendous amount of motivation that propels them forward and helps them reach their goals.

Jeff Haden, in his new book, The Motivation Myth, is here to debunk this long-held belief. He claims there’s no special sauce involved in major life changes. Instead, he believes that motivation is a byproduct of the process of working toward a goal – and not the cause of all that work.

Haden maintains that understanding and internalizing this truth can help anyone become one of those super achievers.

This eye-opening book takes readers from the very beginning, where the actual goal-setting happens, and sees them through until the end, when the impossible becomes a reality.

Haden teaches how to reframe your entire way of thinking about goals and motivation. He offers practical tips and advice for getting yourself “unstuck” at the starting line, giving you ways to stop stalling and move forward with those elusive goals. He proves there is no mystery in accomplishment; no bolt of lightning or super powers at play; just a clear, sensible process that can be duplicated by anyone committed to making it happen.

The author cites examples from his own life to bring his point home, sharing how he has consistently drawn two million monthly views to his blog, completed a 107-mile mountain-bike race and dropped 10 pounds in just one month, all by following his own advice.

Some readers have found the connection he draws between achievement and his process to be overly-simplified and not practical. They claim it’s all hype and not doable in real life. Most readers, though, find the book to be an enlightening guide for overcoming the everyday and transcending the average.

Your Turn: What’s your biggest business motivator? What pushes you to get ahead?

 SOURCES:

www.proudmoney.com/book-review-the-motivation-myth-by-jeff-haden/

https://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=motivation+myth&tag=mh0b-20&index=aps&hvadid=78546414093802&hvqmt=p&hvbmt=bp&hvdev=c&ref=pd_sl_1w2isjli7i_p

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What’s the Best Way to Finance a Home Renovation

Q: I’m doing some home renovations this summer and I’m not sure how to finance this expense. There are so many loan options, but which one makes the most sense? 

A: Whether you’re gutting your entire kitchen or turning your basement into a home theater, we’ve got you covered! As a UCCU member, you have several choices when it comes to funding a home renovation. And we want to help you find the right one for your specific needs. 

First, let’s take a look at some common choices and why they’re not the best idea for financing a home renovation project: 

1.) Home Equity Loan 

A home equity loan is a loan that’s secured by your home’s value. Home equity loans allow you to borrow a fixed amount of cash, which you receive in one lump sum. Most home equity loans have a fixed interest rate, a fixed term and a fixed monthly payment. 

Cons:

  • Taking out a home equity loan can mean paying several fees.
  • Receiving all the funds in one shot can push you into spending more than you actually should.
  • You may find that the amount you borrowed is not enough.

2.) Credit cards 

You may already have your credit cards open and won’t need to apply for a new loan, so you may be thinking, why not use this available credit to fund my renovations? 

If you’re only doing some minor touch-ups on your home and you can afford to repay the charge within the next year or two, a credit card could work. 

For bigger projects, though, funding them through your credit cards can have devastating effects on your financial health.   

Cons: 

  • You may be stuck paying interest of 15% or more until you pay off the balance on your card. This means your remodeling project will cost you a lot more than necessary.
  • Your credit score will likely be negatively affected by the large, unpaid balance on your card by pushing your balance to total available credit ratio well above 30%.
  • You might send yourself spinning into a cycle of debt once you already owe so much money on your card.

3.) Personal loans 

Personal loans are short-term loans that may or may not be secured by some form of collateral (like a car or other titled good). They typically need to be repaid within 24-60 months. 

Cons:

  • Upfront costs and interest rates on personal loans can be relatively high.
  • Like a home equity loan, you’ll receive all the money you borrow in one lump sum. This can compel you to spend it all, even if you don’t need to do so.

4.) Retail credit cards 

Retail stores often lure customers into opening a credit card with the promise of being granted automatic savings when using the card for future store purchases. Some retailers, especially home-improvement shops, may encourage you to finance a large renovation project on their card. However, this is usually not a good idea. 

Cons: 

  • Retail credit cards tend to have exorbitant interest rates of up to 30%.
  • With so much credit available, the urge to splurge and go all out with your renovations will be that much stronger.

5.) Merchant loan 

A merchant loan, or a merchant cash advance, is a loan that’s taken out against a business’s anticipated revenue. If you are a business owner, a merchant loan will need to be repaid with a predetermined percentage of your future revenue.  

Cons:

  • Merchant loans usually come with high interest rates.
  • The percentage of your sales that you’ll need to pay is fixed. This means that, if your sales spike, you’ll be paying more and putting yourself and your business at a disadvantage.  

There are so many loan options and so many strings attached! How can you fund that home renovation?  

Enter the home equity line of credit (HELOC). 

A HELOC is an open credit line that is secured by your home’s value. HELOCs have adjustable interest rates and have a “draw” period in which you can access the funds, ranging from 5-10 years. When the draw period ends, the loan will have to be repaid, either immediately or within the next 15-20 years. 

If you’re approved for a HELOC, you can spend the funds however you choose. Some plans may require that you borrow a minimum amount at each draw, keep a predetermined amount outstanding (balance), or withdraw an initial advance when the line of credit is first established (initial draw/advance). 

When looking for a way to pay for home improvement projects, we recommend a HELOC. And for good reason.  

Here are just a few benefits of choosing a HELOC over another loan type: 

You’ll save money 

HELOCs help you stick to your budget. Instead of walking out with a huge amount of cash when you open the loan, you’ll have access to a line to use as needed. This credit will only be available to you for a specified amount of time and it will have a fixed amount as your maximum draw. You’ll withdraw money in the amount and at the time you need. Plus, you’ll only pay interest on this amount (not the whole line). This aspect of HELOCs makes them especially convenient if you don’t know exactly how much your project will cost. 

Upfront costs for HELOCs also tend to be lower than those of other loans. 

Flexible terms 

Most HELOCs have fluctuating interest rates, but some lenders allow for the possibility of converting large withdrawals into fixed-rate loans. 

Repayment of HELOCs is also flexible. When the draw period ends, you may be allowed to renew your credit line and continue withdrawing funds as needed. 

Monthly payments also vary. However, many lenders only require borrowers to make payments toward the interest of their loan during the draw period. Once that time is over, the borrower will need to pay back the entire principle of the loan immediately, or over the course of 10-15 years. This is especially beneficial if you don’t have the funds to pay back the loan now, but you anticipate an improvement in your financial situation over the next few years.  

Also, because you’re only paying interest on the money you withdraw, you’ll have the freedom to take out a larger line of credit and decide how much of it to use later on. 

You’re improving your home’s value 

It makes perfect sense to borrow against your home’s equity for adding to its value. If you plan on selling your home within the next 10 years, it is very possible for a HELOC to pay for itself, and then some. 

Are you ready to get those renovation plans rolling? Call, click or stop by UCCU today to get started on your HELOC application! 

How did you fund your home renovation project? Share your choice with us in the comments!

SOURCES:

https://mtgprofessor.com/A%20-%20Second%20Mortgages/what_is_a_heloc.htm

https://www.google.com/amp/www.csmonitor.com/layout/set/amphtml/Business/Saving-Money/2017/0219/Why-a-home-equity-loan-is-a-smart-choice-as-rates-rise

https://www.bankrate.com/finance/topic/heloc.aspx

https://www.bankrate.com/finance/home-equity/home-equity-loan-heloc-or-cash-out-refi.aspx

http://blog.mechanics-coop.com/when-is-a-heloc-the-best-choice

https://www.thebalance.com/should-i-use-a-store-credit-card-2385754

https://www.cubefunder.com/blog/what-is-a-merchant-loan/

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5 Ways to Budget for Your Wedding

Q: I’m ready to tie the knot, but I don’t know if I can afford to have a wedding! Between the flowers, gown and venue, it’s thousands and thousands of dollars. How can I cut costs without compromising on my special day?

A: If you’re finding the costs of your wedding to be prohibitive, you’re not alone. According to wedding magazine The Knot, the average American wedding costs upward of $35,000.

That’s a lot of money to spend on one day, especially for twenty- and thirty-somethings who might still be carrying college debt and are probably at the starting end of their earning potential. It should come as no surprise, then, that more than half of newly married couples are still paying off debt from their special day years after the honeymoon is over. 

This doesn’t mean you need to give up your dreams of a spectacular gown and a three-tiered wedding cake. 

By planning ahead, choosing wisely and prioritizing what’s truly important, you can say “I Do”  without stressing over wedding costs. 

Here’s how: 

1.) Start saving now 

Instead of waiting for that special someone to pop the question, start saving now!

Ramit Sethi, popular finance blogger and author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich, says this is the biggest mistake people make when it comes to planning for their weddings. The average age of marriage is 27 for men and 26 for women. If you start saving for your wedding when you’re 20, explains Sethi, you’ll only need to put away $333 a month. But if you start at age 26, you’ll need to put away $2,333 a month!

Start saving now and take your vows, debt-free.

2.) Time it right

Don’t assume you need to get married on a balmy Saturday in July. Think off-season and mid-week, and you’ll save a bundle!

First, consider a winter wedding. You might not have the luxury of sunny skies and blossoming flowers, but you’ll have the warmth and coziness of being inside on a freezing winter’s day. You can treat your guests to steaming hot cocoa and then set off for the ski slopes and a dreamy wintry honeymoon.

Best of all, you’ll shave thousands of dollars off the venue price by choosing an unusual time of year to get married.

Second, think beyond Saturdays. If you can find a church with a vacancy on a Sunday, grab it! Venue prices can drop dramatically with just a one-day switch.

You can also opt for a mid-week wedding that precedes a national holiday date, like July 4th or Thanksgiving. This way, your guests will still be able to enjoy the evening without rushing home.

3.) Skip the cake

A slice of a dessert for $2.50 that doesn’t even taste that good? Meh. Who needs it?

Here are some other ideas:

  • Fake your cake. If you can’t stomach the idea of a cake-less wedding, ask your baker to fake it for you by creating a false, cardboard bottom for your cake and only baking a genuine top layer or two. You’ll get the same look without the huge cost and you won’t be left with half a cake to trash when the wedding’s over.
  • Set up a bar. No, we’re not talking liquor. Make your wedding a conversation piece by setting up a dessert bar instead of a cake. You can serve hot waffles with ice cream, chocolate syrup, caramel sauce and a huge selection of other fun toppings. Or, you can choose to serve warm brownies or chocolate chip cookies as your base instead. Make it super fun with a hot chocolate fountain. Everything’s better with chocolate. You’ll be pampering your guests at a fraction of the cost!
  • Serve a sheet cake instead. Still want a cake you can eat in its entirety? Order a simple sheet cake from the best bakery in town. Your guests will be happy to savor a slice —  even without all that fondant and frosting.

4.) Save on your gown

Every little girl dreams of her special day – and the special dress she’ll be wearing when it finally comes. But wedding gowns can cost thousands of dollars, and after being worn once, are often left to turn yellow in a forgotten corner of an attic.

Instead of throwing out thousands or even hundreds of dollars on your gown, look for a pre-owned gown on eBay, OnceWed.com or PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com.  You can find a beautiful, gently used gown for under $100.

You can also look for a gown that wasn’t specifically designed as a wedding dress. Check out prom shops and sites, or embellish a bridesmaid dress to make it look like bride material. 

5.) Vary your venue 

Wedding venues tend to be couples’ biggest money-waster for their special day. 

Save a ton by choosing a venue that has no outside contracts. You can shop around for the cheapest caterer, or break convention and skip the sit down meal, opting for something simpler and cheaper, like a BBQ buffet, burger bar or hors d’oeuvres and mini deli sandwiches. 

If you really dare to be different, you can have your wedding in one of these unique, budget-friendly venues that can also serve as wedding halls for starry-eyed couples just like you: 

  • Art gallery. It’s already decorated beautifully. Make your wedding stand out with this artsy choice of venue!
  • College campus. If you’re still a student and your college has a large dining hall and picturesque grounds, this can be an ideal wedding venue. Plus, you’ll probably be able to snag a steep student discount!
  • Vacation home. By renting a vacation home for two weeks, you’ll have lodgings for your out-of-town guests, a romantic wedding venue and a honeymoon destination when the wedding’s over.

Still not sure how to pay for your wedding? We can help! Call, click or stop by [credit union] today to ask about our personal loans, wedding clubs and other great services that can take the stress out of your wedding preparations. 

Your Turn: Already married? Share your best wedding hacks with us in the comments! 

 

SOURCES:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.buzzfeed.com/amphtml/rachelwmiller/insanely-smart-ways-to-save-money-on-your-wedding

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.brides.com/gallery/wedding-budget-saving-tips/amp

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nerdwallet.com/blog/finance/ways-to-save-money-wedding/amp/

 

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Getting the Most out of Youth Accounts

Managing money is a foundational life skill. That’s why it’s best to give your kids a head start on money management and saving.

UCCU is proud to offer specialized saving accounts for kids. Our Be Money Smart program is geared for children, youth, and teens aged 0-18.

Youth savings accounts offer no annual fees, competitive interest rates and quarterly dividends.

What better way to start saving for your future than with FREE money? Open a BeMoneySmart Savings Account before your child’s first birthday, and UCCU will make the first deposit of $10!

When your child opens a savings account, UCCU will give them a SmartSaver Rewards deposit card. Every time they make a deposit, we’ll punch the card and they’ll move closer to cash rewards. The more punches saved… the better the reward.  It’s the perfect way to help your kids learn saving habits and how to set and achieve saving goals.

Teenagers need a sense of independence. To help them gain that, teen account holders are eligible for a debit card with maximum daily limits that are set by parents/guardians.

Ready to open an account for your child(ren)? Does your child already have one? Here are three ways to ensure that he or she gets the most out of their new or existing account:

1.) Set a goal

Let your child use this opportunity to save for something big. Together with your child, create a long-term goal, like saving up for a first car. Also create a short-term goal, like a new hoverboard. Set a date for when you hope to hit your goals.
Next, set up a savings calendar for illustrating how much money needs to be saved each month to reach the intended target on time. Discuss ways to add to the savings.
2.) Bank together
If this is your child’s first time owning an account, she’ll need you to show her the ropes. Take your child along when you stop by UCCU to deposit her savings and show her how it works. If your child asks you to withdraw money from her account, let her see how this translates into a dip for their savings.
When helping your teen child, you’ll need to walk him or her through that first deposit and withdrawal. After that, leave it to them. Make sure they understand that every swipe of their debit card means a dent in their account.
It’s also a good idea to warn kids of all ages about security. They should know to never share their account information with anyone and to keep their debit card in a safe place.
3.) Monitor your child’s activity
Always keep an eye on your child’s account. If your child is depositing less than planned, or your teen is maximizing his daily ATM allowance, speak to him about money management and impulse purchases.
Every financial lesson you teach your child today equips them with skills for a lifetime.
Your Turn: How do you maximize the benefits of having a youth account for your child? Share your best tips with us in the comments!
SOURCES:
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Saving on Home Renovations

Is your home in desperate need of a facelift? As you probably know, renovations don’t come cheap. In fact, the average kitchen remodel tops $60,000 and bathroom overhauls can cost $18,000!

With some careful planning, though, you can shave thousands of dollars off these price tags.

Here are 7 ways to save:

1.) Don’t do a complete remodel

Instead of knocking down walls, give the outdated area a fresh coat of paint, new light fixtures and some minor décor upgrades.

Potential money saved: $30,000.

2.) Shop around for a contractor

Find someone professional, reliable and willing to give you a decent price. Check out at least three different contractors before making your decision. Ask for references and meet with each contractor in person to get a feel for their professional conduct and character. Also, be sure to sign a detailed contract.

Potential money saved: several thousand dollars.

3.) Consider long–term benefits

It often makes sense to pay more now if it’ll save you big down the line. For example, if you’re installing clapboard siding, you’ll save in the long run by paying more for pre-primed and pre-painted boards. Using the prefinished claps means you’ll need half as many paint jobs in the future.

Money saved: $1,250 (for a 10×40 area).

4.) Pick decent but midgrade materials

When long-term functionality is not a criterion, choose the midgrade option. One area where you’ll see this at play is in carpeting. Olefin and polyester carpeting will run you $1 to $2 per square foot .while wool costs upward of $9 to $11 per square foot.

Money saved: $400 (for a 40-square-feet area).

5.) Bring in natural light without windows

Looking to bring a splash of sunshine into your kitchen? Instead of adding a window, consider installing a “light tube.” It slips between the rafters on your roof and works to funnel sunshine down into the living space below.

Adding a double-pane window can run you $1,500; a light tube costs $500.

Money saved: $1,000.

6.) Lend a hand

Save big by doing some of the demolition work yourself, painting some walls, or even sanding walls to prep them for painting. You can also lend a hand with the cleanup instead of hiring a crew.

Money saved: $200 or more.

7.) Increase efficiency, not size

Cramped kitchen? Don’t assume you need to push out walls to make it work. Instead, reorganize your kitchen for optimal efficiency and save tens of thousands of dollars. Upgrade your cabinets with lazy susans, pullout drawers, dividers and more. Consider hiring a professional organizer to show you how to maximize your space – you’ll still save big overall.

Money saved: up to $60,000.

Before making any decisions, be sure to call, click or stop by [credit union] today to learn about our fantastic rates on Fixed Home Equity Loans and Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOC)!

SOURCES:
https://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/ways-to-save-on-home-renovation-costs/

https://www.thisoldhouse.com/ideas/21-ways-to-save-your-remodel-0

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.remodelista.com/posts/expert-advice-15-secrets-for-saving-money-on-home-renovation/amp/

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The Brain/Money Connection

We know that stress impacts our health in various ways, but did you know the brain is also physically affected by stress? Neuroscientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have found that chronic stress triggers long-term changes in brain structure and function. And nothing spells stress like money dilemmas!

Neuroscientist Dr. Sam Barnett conducted research to determine the brain’s appearance while making financial decisions. He found that the ability to make effective decisions in this area is impaired by anxiety.

The complexity of some financial situations makes it difficult to process information and impedes our ability to make rational choices. The number of choices can make people feel anxious. Since the brain has two basic modes, fight or flight, being presented with too many choices can result in confusion and anxiety.

Author James Clear adds that it may be the lack of certainty that augments the anxiety, because financial quandaries rarely have clear-cut answers.

This uncertainty, coupled with the plethora of information accompanying each option, often creates high stress levels. This can lead to hasty, unsound decisions, leading to buyer’s remorse.

Alternatively, when stressed about financial decisions, some choose to make no decision at all. In certain situations, taking no action can have disastrous results.

The science behind the science

The relationship between money and the brain has been researched primarily in the last decade. Scientists have found that different parts of the brain are stimulated when dealing with money. One study, for instance, showed increased neural activity when people play games for money.

Apparently, just the possibility of earning extra money impacts the brain! This proves the brain influences the process of making even the simplest financial decision.

How can we help our brain handle so much information?

Barnett’s study also shows that narrowing down options or having a financial advisor provide a framework for decisions can alleviate anxiety and lead to improved outcomes.

Developing financial plans that consider our long-term wants and needs can also help. A financial planner is the best address for assistance with this process.

A competent financial planner is well worth the outlay. They can help you hone in on the crucial aspects of a broader plan. Aside from leading to better financial decisions, Barnett claims this improves brain function as well.

You can also narrow and focus information by using budgeting tools. Simply putting financial information on paper helps the brain organize and process all that data. In addition, setting financial goals and checkpoints can reduce anxiety.

The bottom line? The best way to make sound financial decisions is to get help. And that’s why we’re here! Call, click or stop by UCCU today to see how we can help.

 

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201402/chronic-stress-can-damage-brain-structure-and-connectivity

https://www.forbes.com/sites/elizabethharris/2017/11/28/new-neuroscience-study-reveals-what-worry-about-money-does-to-your-brain/#68cbc128385e

http://time.com/money/4362798/money-cocaine-brain-psychology-investing/

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Security Bulletin: Equifax Data Breach

Credit reporting agency Equifax reported on Thursday, September 7 that they experienced a data breach – one of the most significant in history, potentially including Social Security numbers of 143 million consumers.

Equifax said its breach includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers. Credit card numbers for nearly 209,000 U.S. consumers were also potentially accessed, along with some dispute documents that contained personal identifying information for roughly 182,000 U.S. consumers.

The breach happened mid-May through July and was discovered July 29. Equifax said it has seen no evidence of unauthorized activity on its core consumer or commercial credit reporting databases.

Equifax is offering a free one-year subscription to their Premier credit monitoring package (TrustedID Premier).   You can find more information about this cyberattack and how to enroll in credit monitoring at www.equifaxsecurity2017.com.

What You Can Do

  1. Find Out If Your Information Is Possibly at Risk

Equifax set up a website (www.equifaxsecurity2017.com) where you can see if your information is believed to be compromised. Click on the tab labeled “Potential Impact” in the center of the webpage. Enter your name and the last six digits of your Social Security number where indicated.

  1. Sign Up for the complimentary Credit Monitoring package

Equifax is providing free credit monitoring to all U.S. consumers, regardless of whether their information was identified as being compromised. The complimentary credit monitoring package called “TrustedID Premier” includes:

  • Equifax Credit Report: Copies of your Equifax Credit Report as needed.
  • Three (3) Bureau Credit File Monitoring: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
  • Equifax Credit Report Lock: Equifax will allow you to go a step further and freeze your credit. This prevents anyone from taking out a loan or a credit card in your name. It’s worth noting that this includes you, which means when you need to apply for credit— a UCCU mortgage, a home equity line, auto loan or even a credit card— you’ll need to go to Equifax first and unfreeze your credit before you apply.
  • Social Security Number Monitoring: Searches suspicious web sites for your Social Security number.
  • $1M Identity Theft Insurance: Helps pay for certain out-of-pocket expenses in the event you are a victim of identity theft.
  1. Visit Your Accounts Online – Regularly

UCCU Online and Mobile banking make it easier than ever to check your account balances and activity online. Many members do so daily and we recommend doing so at least weekly. To make it even easier you can establish alerts on your UCCU transaction accounts and credit card, triggered by parameters like your balance going up or the size of the transaction.

At UCCU, the security of your data is a top priority. We constantly monitor threats, like the Equifax data breach, and work to protect our members in the ever-evolving world of digital security.

If you have any questions please call 800-453-8188. Representatives are available Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 6:00pm and on Saturdays from 9:00am to 2:00pm. You can also send us a secure message from within online or mobile banking, or visit your local branch.

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Q&A: Risking It When Investing

Each month we will post an answer to a question we’ve received recently in order to help others who might have the same question. If you have any questions you’d like to have answered, please message UCCU on Facebook.

Q: My wife is a risk taker and wants to invest in things that aren’t really in my comfort zone. I know it’s generally considered better to invest where returns are higher, but that also means a higher risk! Is there some sort of middle ground?

A: It’s great that you’re thinking this through. Many couples face the same question, and while the simplest solution might be to split your funds down the middle and invest as you each see fit, that’s not likely to bring peace or wealth into the relationship. In a marriage, for one thing, whether accounts are titled separately or jointly, they are considered marital assets (even 401Ks). And a healthy relationship depends on working jointly toward financial goals, not going it alone.

One of the most difficult issues for couples to resolve is how much risk they’re willing to take with their investments. According to Fidelity’s 2015 Couples Retirement Study, 47 percent of couples disagree about how much money they’ll need to maintain their lifestyle in their later years. Even more troubling, a Harris survey found that 33 percent of couples weren’t saving anything for their retirement years. And, of those who were, one in five said they were clueless about how much their partner was contributing to their accounts.

Some tips if you’re starting down the investment road together:

  • As in so many areas of a relationship, communication is key. Let your spouse or partner know you’re willing to research options together and come up with a plan. Erica Coogan, partner at Moss Adams Wealth Advisors in Seattle, recommends that each partner complete a risk assessment questionnaire and then compare answers. “It makes a subjective conversation a little more objective,” she says.
  • Remember that planning needs to cover both spouses, not just a breadwinner. Experts advise couples to be mindful of the “It’s my money because I worked for it” syndrome. Couples need to work together on a plan for investing (and spending) their money, no matter who earns it. Apart from any resentment, an uneven divide in the ownership of assets can make a mess of cash flow, estate planning and taxes.
  • Consider transparency. Wherever you stand on risk, consider selecting some investments that are, by nature, transparent. This includes individual stocks, bonds and exchange-traded funds. You can also reduce risk by diversifying your portfolio across asset classes. Ask a financial advisor at your credit union for help in untangling the strands of modern-day investing.
  • Think about your time horizon. Allowing an investment to compound leads to much better returns. So, if you’re the more risk-averse half of a couple, and you’ll need your money within 10 years, say with confidence to your partner: Slow down. Remember that it doesn’t make intuitive sense (but is nevertheless true) that your money doubles in seven years if you earn a compounded annual return of 10%. Don’t let a little fumbled math lead to a rash or risky decision.
  • Keep the goalposts in sight. Your mutual goals will determine how, and how much, the two of you should invest. For instance, when do you want to retire? Do you plan to pay for your kid’s college expenses? Purchase a home (or a second home)? Start a business?

Finances are one of the leading causes of separation. The more ownership and open communication a couple has over this potentially rocky topic, the less likely it is that they’ll panic when there’s a ripple in their plans or something happens in the markets.

Your Turn: Do you and your spouse or partner disagree about investments? Let us know how you’ve smoothed that potentially rocky road and headed for a secure sunset.

SOURCES:
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Nest: save on utility bills right from your pocket

The skinny:

Nest is a smart thermostat. It allows you to control the temperature of your home right from your smartphone. Within about a week, Nest learns your habits and adjusts to your preferred temperatures.

Who’s it for? Anyone who wants to save money on their heating and cooling bills. Nest automatically lowers the temperature when you go to bed and shuts off when no one is home. The average user saves 10-12% on their heating bills and 15% on cooling bills.

Nest is also great for people who own vacation homes. If you see a big temperature drop coming, but you’re at your full-time residence, you can turn the heat on at your second home so your pipes don’t freeze.

What platforms? iOS and Android

Cost? The app is free. The device itself costs about $250, depending on the retailer. If you need professional installation, it costs between $99-250.

We seem to run our lives from our smartphones, and now we can run our thermostats that way, too. Nest is connected to your Wi-Fi, which allows you to control it from your smartphone.

But the best thing about the Nest thermostat is its intuitiveness. You don’t have to use the app to turn the heat on before you get home from work. You can skip having that moment of panic while on vacation when you realize you left your air conditioner running. Nest knows the rhythms of your life and adjusts accordingly. It knows what time you come home from work and knows if nobody’s home so it makes appropriate changes for you. Plus, you can make adjustments using the app if you need to do that.

Nest comes with some great additional features. You can look at your energy history to see how much you are using. Daily reports show how much energy you’re saving and give tips on how to use less to save even more on your bill. When you’re choosing temperature settings, you’ll see a leaf symbol when you’ve chosen one that saves energy.

You got a great rate on your mortgage with Utah Community Credit Union. Save even more money by installing Nest!

Your Turn: What energy-saving methods do you use in your home? Let us know!

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Full Focus Planner: The Ultimate in Planning and Organization

In a world that is constantly becoming more digitized, the Full Focus Planner stands out like a snowman on a beach. After all, it’s not an app or a website – it’s an analog tool. No touchscreens, automatic uploads or complicated algorithms here!

What made self-proclaimed techie, Michael Hyatt, design and create a physical planner? And why does he think his product will change people’s lives?

“I love paper,” Hyatt asserts. “It’s the best reading app around.”

Hyatt explains that, despite their incredible efficiency, technology can also be incredibly distracting. Multiple screens, apps and pop-ups can divide your focus and inhibit your productivity.

In contrast, research shows that, when people write something down instead of inputting it into a computer, they retain more of the information. Writing by hand engages several parts of the brain and creates stronger memory cues. Writing out your yearly, monthly and weekly goals will make them stick in your mind.

The Planner offers a lot more than just a paper trail for your activities. It’s designed to help you achieve the goals you have for yourself and your business.

In a brilliant innovation that combines Hyatt’s goal-setting strategy with proven productivity methodology, The Full Focus Planner will connect your long-term goals with your daily tasks. And, best of all, it goes with you everywhere – the office, the airport, the coffee shop — so you can review your goals wherever you are.

Here’s what you can expect from the Full Focus Planner:

1.) Goal achievement strategy

The Full Focus Planner’s scientific method for planning and achieving goals will be your guide toward personal and professional achievement.

2.) Task tracking

Utilizing a personalized chart, you can track the tasks you complete on a daily basis, marking down your estimated time and actual completion time to facilitate better planning and goal-reaching.

3.) Finance tracking

Keeping your finances in order by frequently reviewing your accounts and spending habits will help you stick to your budget and reach your financial goals sooner.

4.) Habit tracker

Easily track your older and newer habits. This will help you evaluate which actions are holding you back from achieving and which ones are helping you move forward.

5.) Life visualize

Create a picture of your future and your career dreams to help you focus on your long-term goals.

6.) Monthly goal setting

Visualize your monthly goal. Create appropriate to-do lists and a plan for upcoming tasks that will enable you to reach your goal.

7.) Weekly planner

Planning and reviewing a weekly schedule will help keep your days focused and productive.

8.) 30-day challenge

Sometimes it’s good to take on more than you think you can handle. Challenge yourself each month with a goal that takes a bit more effort and watch your dreams turn into reality.

9.) Self-reflection

It’s important to be tuned into your inner self as you work toward your goals. Are you happy with the direction your life is taking? How can you improve your character? Self-reflection will help you listen to your inner voice.

10.) Failure mode analysis

Everyone messes up at times. Learn from your mistakes by using the planner’s systematic method for identifying where you went wrong.

11.) Stay motivated

An empty cup can’t pour. Keep your cup full with inspirational quotes and by tracking your progress and taking pride in all you’ve accomplished.

Your Turn: What keeps you from actually reaching your dreams? Share your biggest productivity pitfalls in the comments so we can all learn what does and doesn’t work!

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