Rising Interest Rates: What Do They Mean For You?

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If you read financial headlines, you’ve no doubt seen the news that the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates. These headlines can be accompanied with all sorts of hyperbole about the end of the stock market, the boom of bonds or any of a dozen other possible predictions. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when there’s this much information and so much of it is conflicting. Let’s set the record straight on what rising prime interest rates mean for you and your:

  • Adjustable-rate Mortgage
  • Portfolio
  • Savings
  • Debt

The prime interest rate is the rate that the Federal Reserve charges financial institutions to borrow from it. It influences a lot of other financial prices. Many of these are only of concern to investment bankers, professional investors and other economic enthusiasts. Here are some key ways the prime rate hikes can affect you!

1.) Get out of your ARM

Many people opted for adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) when interest rates were historically low. These mortgages often have much better rates for an introductory period, usually five years, before they adjust to a new rate. That new rate is determined in large part by the rate the Federal Reserve charges.

The Federal Reserve is planning to continue to increase interest rates as the economy continues to improve. This means the rate on your ARM may go up as well. Worse yet, the rising rates could make your monthly mortgage payment unpredictable, putting you in a bit of a budget bind. Fortunately, you can refinance your mortgage into a fixed-rate loan and take advantage of still-low interest rates. You may still be able to secure a low rate on a 10-, 15- or 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. As interest rates continue to rise, your fixed-rate mortgage will stay the same, meaning your savings will increase as time goes on.

2.) Balance your portfolio

The historically low interest rates over the past six years have done wonders for the stock market. Because companies could borrow at affordable rates, they could expand rapidly. That expansion fuels growth in stock prices.

As interest rates rise, that credit availability will decrease. Companies will find it more difficult to expand, and their growth will slow. This slowing of growth may lead to a decline in stock prices.

However, as interest rates rise, bond rates will also increase. That will lead to an increase in their price as more investors chase those rates. Individual investors need to ensure their portfolios are properly balanced to take advantage of changing market conditions. Speaking to a financial adviser to ensure your assets are where they need to be will help keep your investments growing at a healthy rate.

3.) Save more

The Federal Reserve interest rate also affects the rates that financial institutions are able to offer account holders. As it becomes more expensive to borrow from other institutions, it’s more profitable for those institutions to “borrow” from their members in the form of certificates and savings accounts. As interest rates continue to rise, it’ll be increasingly more profitable to sock your money away in an interest-bearing account.

If you’ve been putting off opening a certificate or increasing the deposits in your share account, now is an excellent time to consider it. With a 12- or 24-month certificate, you can take advantage of rising interest rates while still leaving yourself the flexibility to re-invest once interest rates rise again.

4.) Refinance your debt

The service charges on several kinds of debt are tied to the prime rate. Notably, credit cards and private student loan rates may increase as the prime rate continues to climb. That makes now a great time to think about refinancing.

Take advantage of currently low interest rates with several strategies. A home equity line of credit can help bundle your high-interest, unsecured debt with your low-interest mortgage. A personal loan for refinancing can also help secure a better interest rate. Other options exist, and the sooner you speak with a debt counselor or other financial professional, the better off you’ll be.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the financial terminology surrounding news events like rate hikes. That’s why it’s best to have an advocate in your corner to help you figure out what to make of a changing economic landscape. Utah community Credit Union can do just that. Call, click or stop by to speak to a member services representative about how you can take advantage of this opportunity and put yourself on the path to financial wellness.

Find your nearest UCCU location here: http://www.uccu.com/home/uccu/locations

Your Turn: Got questions about rising interest rates? Leave your questions in the comments. Or, if you’ve got a handle on all things economic, share your wisdom with others!

Sources:

http://www.azcentral.com/story/money/business/consumers/2017/01/19/bit-bit-rising-interest-rates-making-impact/96560462/
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/18/your-money/increases-in-interest-rates-on-savings-accounts-remain-slow-to-materialize.html?_r=0
http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2016/12/28/what-2017-may-mean-your-personal-finances/95736736/

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New Year Resolution: Reduce Monthly Expenses

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to make sure your overall financial health is in good shape, it’s a good idea to dive even deeper and analyze some of your reoccurring monthly expenses that you may be wasting money on as well.

The UCCU Financial Group compiled a list of five common monthly expenses that often can be adjusted, or cut out altogether, to keep more of your hard-earned cash.

  1. Gray spending on credit cards. Far too many people with credit cards fall prey to monthly subscription expenses they quickly lose track of—such as a 30-day free trial you forgot to cancel, or a monthly Netflix fee. Consider going over the last 12 months of your credit card statements and writing down any reoccurring expenses. Then you can decide what can be changed or cancelled.
  2. Health insurance plans. It’s a great idea to see what insurance plans are available and what makes the most sense for you and your family. Be sure to do this in advance of your insurance renewal date. Most insurance companies offer a calculator feature so you can enter in all your expected health needs over a 12-month period for each member of your family and see which plan gives you the lowest out-of-pocket spending over a year’s time, not just the cheapest co-pays. You may be surprised to find out you’re not on the most economical plan!
  3. Cable TV. Consider what you watch – with the ability to live stream most network TV shows on demand and the streaming services available through companies such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Sling TV and Hulu Plus, for many cable has become obsolete. Decide what you and your family watch and decide if expensive cable bills can be a thing of the past for you and your wallet.
  4. Home and auto loans. With interest rates, considerably low, it’s worth the time to evaluate the benefits to refinancing your home or auto loans to see if there’s a lower rate option than what’s currently on your loan(s). Refinancing to a lower rate can reduce your monthly payments by hundreds to thousands of dollars a year.
  5. Cell phone plans. Mobile companies have begun to do away with their super strict, two-year service contracts and are often overselling you on services and data you don’t actually use or need! Do some research on your current contract and your provider’s fees, discounted family plans and what you’re currently paying. See if there’s a better, cheaper monthly option for your needs that will save you money.

Don’t hesitate to contact Steve Lloyd at the UCCU Financial Group to schedule an appointment if you’d like to further discuss your financial situation. Our phone number is 801.223.7502.

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Start a Tradition this Holiday Season!

Outdoor Family Choosing Christmas Tree TogetherThanksgiving is right around the corner! This year, why not throw in one or two new activities and see how they are received by your guests? If they are enjoyed, you may have a few fun Thanksgiving traditions for years to come!

Here are some simple tradition-starting ideas that cost virtually nothing but can add a bit more meaning and a few more memories to your Thanksgiving holiday.

  1. Give back before feasting – Whether it’s running a 5K Turkey Trot that sponsors food bank charities or volunteering to help prepare and serve a hot Thanksgiving meal for a local soup kitchen, giving back to your community has a way of kicking off the holiday season in its intended spirit and yields thankfulness for what you have.
  2. Create a “What We Are Thankful for Tree” – Gather a few fallen branches from outside and place them in a vase so they resemble a tree. Cut out colorful pieces of paper into shapes of leaves and place them underneath the tree. Invite family and friends to write down anything they feel thankful for. Glue, tape or hang them from the tree and use it as a centerpiece for your Thanksgiving meal as a reflection on the year’s blessings.
  3. Toast all the way around the table – Invite each person, young and old, to take a moment to toast to “what they are most thankful for this year.” This quickly floods Thanksgiving dinner with a strong sense of gratitude and helps the flow of conversation throughout the meal as special moments are shared, remembered and celebrated.
  4. Get active after dinner – After the meal has been eaten, and possibly before dessert has been served, gather everyone in your Thanksgiving celebration to enjoy a bit of time being active outside. Grab a glass of hot cocoa and take a nice, long walk around your neighborhood together. Or, host a competitive game of whiffle ball with your family and/or neighbors! It should help stimulate everyone’s metabolism and at the very least will create some great memories.
  5. Celebrate “Friendsgiving” – Start a tradition with your friends to have a potluck party with all of your Thanksgiving leftovers the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Make it a competition to see who can have the best repurposed leftover dish or turn the gathering into an annual board game tournament! This can be a fun time to reconnect with those close friends after the Thanksgiving holiday.

If you have any unique Thanksgiving holiday traditions that your family celebrates, the UCCU Financial Group would love to hear about them! Enjoy your Thanksgiving Day!  You can contact Steve Lloyd at 801.223.7502 to schedule a no-cost appointment with one of our representatives. We look forward to hearing from you!

Curtis Willardson, CFP, CLU, Dan Palmer & Travis Morgan are registered representatives offering securities and investment advisory services through Cetera Advisor Networks LLC, member FINRA/SIPC.  Dave Palmer is a registered representative offering securities through Cetera Advisor Networks LLC, member FINRA/SIPC.  Cetera is under separate ownership from any other named entity. Registered address: 188 W River Park Dr, Provo, UT  84604
Not NCUA/NCUSIF Insured – No Credit Union Guarantee – Not a Deposit – May Lose Value
Not Insured By Any Federal Government Agency.
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Scary Financial Statistics to Avoid

Pumpkins with money signs.

While many enjoy being spooked at Halloween, what’s not so welcome are haunting feelings about a dark financial future. If your fear of finances is holding you back and you’re too frightened to brave the unknown, take a look at this list of financial statistics which suggests ways to avoid encountering a “scary” situation.

  • 67% of American workers have less than $50,000 saved for retirement. A worrisome number from a recent retirement survey that also revealed an even scarier statistic: 29% of Americans have less then $1,000 saved.1 The best way to get out of the dark here is to act now. Invest wisely and realize that saving money in a bank, for example, typically yields low returns. Instead, consider putting your money in a tax-deferred IRA account or 401(k) retirement account, especially if your employer matches contributions.
  • 25% of Americans making at least $100,000 live paycheck to paycheck.2 An alarming number of Americans, with what could be perceived as having lucrative jobs, still make poor financial decisions. For many, having more money equals more spending. Time to face your financial situation head-on. Practice making cuts in your monthly expenses to avoid living paycheck to paycheck while adding more to savings or investments that pay back. The more often you practice good spending habits the less scary and more fruitful your financial situation becomes.
  • Over 53% of Americans could not pay for an emergency that costs more than $400.3 This is a concerning statistic to think that the average American could not cover an unexpected expense, like a car breaking down or replacing a broken household appliance. General financial wisdom advocates establishing an emergency fund stocked with enough reserve cash to cover three to six months of living expenses. The best way to deal with this is to plan for the unexpected. If saving is an issue, consider setting up an automatic withdrawal from your paycheck to push more cash into savings.
  • Over 60% of parents feel more comfortable speaking to an advisor about finances than their adult children.4 Many families still struggle with financial conversations and today, more than ever, children are increasingly anxious about their finances. Don’t let your children make poor financial decisions that could seriously impact them—and possibly you—in the future. The best way to avoid this statistic is to involve them in appropriate financial conversations either at home or with a financial professional.

You don’t have to face the fear alone. Give Steve Lloyd at the UCCU Financial Group a call at 801.223.7502 if you’d like to schedule an appointment.

Securities and advisory services offered through Cetera Advisor Networks LLC, member FINRA/SIPC.

Cetera is under separate ownership from any other named entity.

 

 

 

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Social Security: Two Benefit Strategies Eliminated

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With the passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, two strategies to potentially maximize Social Security benefit payments were eliminated.  Read this article to see if you still qualify.

An Overview

Prior to the budget’s passage, married couples had two strategies to help maximize their Social Security benefits: “file-and-suspend” and “restricted applications.” ¹

Under file-and-suspend, the higher-earning spouse filed for benefits and then suspended them, allowing the lower-earning spouse to claim a spousal benefit. This also let the higher-earning spouse accrue delayed retirement credits. Upon attaining age 70, the couple then could switch to their own individual benefit to receive the highest possible amount.

Restricted Application

A restricted application allowed an individual, upon attaining full retirement age, to file only for a spousal benefit, based on the individual’s spouse’s work record, delaying his or her benefits until age 70. Upon reaching age 70, the individual would then convert to his or her own benefit.

Married couples also could combine the above strategies with one spouse filing and suspending a worker benefit, while the other spouse filed a restricted application to receive the spousal benefit only.

Divorced recipients

These strategies could be used by divorced recipients, too. A divorced spouse was permitted to file a restricted application for a spousal benefit at full retirement age, as long as the former spouse was 62 or older. At age 70, the divorced spouse then switched over to his or her own worker benefit, assuming it was a higher amount.

The Policy Behind the Elimination

The elimination of file-and-suspend claims becomes effective on May 1, 2016. It also prohibits restricted applications for anyone who has not reached age 62 by the end of 2015. Since file-and-suspend is only available to those who have reached full retirement age, it remains available to individuals who are age 66, or will be so by April 30, 2016. (Couples who have already executed such claims are unaffected by the new law.) ²

The reason that Congress acted, and the President signed into law this change, was to save money and close perceived loopholes in the Social Security program.

Overall savings will be small compared to the larger financial challenges that Social Security faces. These changes will save about 0.02 percent of the taxable wages and self-employment income subject to Social Security taxes over the next 75 years, according to the Social Security Administration—a fraction of the program’s long-term deficit of 2.65 percent of taxable payroll.3 ³

According to one study, these changes will impact just 0.1 percent of all Social Security participants. ⁴

Strategy & Choices

There was one other change not yet widely discussed that may have implications for you.

For someone who exercised a file-and-suspend strategy, the rules provided the ability to receive a retroactive lump sum payment if an individual changed his or her mind and lifted the suspension. (They did lose any bump up in payment amount that came with delaying benefit payments, however.) This flexibility is also being eliminated under the budget act.

This ability to lift the suspension was a particularly important planning strategy because it allowed an individual who may have come down with a life-threatening illness or underwent a change in financial status to retroactively go back to their original filing date and receive a lump sum for the benefit amount not paid during the suspension period.

Keep in mind that Social Security has undergone a number of substantive changes since its inception. While the elimination of these strategies may be disappointing, these changes do not undercut the central promise of this critical social contract. In fact, they were implemented to strengthen it.

  1. Social Security Administration, 2016.
  2. Social Security Administration, 2016.
  3. The New York Times, October 30, 2015.

The New York Times, October 30, 2015.

For more information on this subject contact Steve Lloyd, Office Manager, UCCU Financial Group, at 801-223-7502.

Securities and advisory services offered through Cetera Advisor Networks LLC, member FINRA/SIPC.
Cetera is under separate ownership from any other named entity.
Not NCUA/NCUSIF Insured – No Credit Union Guarantee – Not A Deposit – May Lose Value
Not Insured By Any Federal Government Agency.
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Taxes and Investment Gains Correlation

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Taxes play an important role in your investment strategy, regardless of your tax bracket. That’s why understanding how short and long-term term capital gains impact your investments over time can be critical. Below is a quick explanation on how that works.

Taxes and Investment Gains

Simply put, short-term gains are realized on investments held for under a year, while long-term capital gains are derived from investments held for more than one year. For example, if you purchase 100 shares of stock for $20 per share and sell them six months later for $25 per share, the $500 in profit is considered a short-term capital gain by the IRS and taxed at as ordinary income. Conversely, if you wait more than a year to sell the shares, they will be taxed at the long capital gains rate of 15% to 20%, depending on your tax bracket.

For investors in higher tax brackets, this rate can be substantially lower than the rate applicable to short-term gains.

Depending on your tax bracket, if you held the same shares for a year or more, you could end up making more money if the stock price continues to increase but still pay less at tax time. In addition, only your net investment income is taxable, meaning if you gain $500 from one investment but lose $500 on another in the same tax year, then your net gain is $0 and you are not required to pay any additional taxes.

This communication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information on the subjects covered. It is not, however, intended to provide specific legal, tax, or other professional advice. For specific professional assistance, the services of an appropriate professional should be sought.

If you’d like to learn more about the relationship between investments and taxable gains in your portfolio, contact the UCC Financial Group at (801) 223-7502.

Securities and advisory services offered through Cetera Advisor Networks LLC, member FINRA/SIPC.
Cetera is under separate ownership from any other named entity.

Not NCUA/NCUSIF Insured – No Credit Union Guarantee – Not A Deposit – May Lose Value
Not Insured By Any Federal Government Agency.

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When to Begin Social Security Benefits

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Determining when to begin taking Social Security benefits depends on a number of factors, including whether or not you’re still working, your other sources of retirement income, how soon you need the income to help meet current living expenses, and your life expectancy. While you can begin taking benefits at age 62, many people choose to wait until they reach “full retirement” age—which is 66 for those born between 1943 and 1959, and 67 for those born in 1960 or later. Doing so entitles you to receive full benefits, whereas dipping into Social Security a few years earlier reduces your benefit amounts substantially.

The longer you wait, up to age 70, the greater your benefits will be. At age 70, you are eligible for the maximum annual benefit, which is 32% more than your full retirement benefit, and 76% greater than the benefit you were entitled to receive at age 62.

If you would like assistance in determining when to begin taking Social Security benefits, contact the office at 801-223-7502 to schedule a consultation.

All the best,

UCCU Financial Group

This communication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information on the subjects covered. It is not, however, intended to provide specific legal, tax, or other professional advice. For specific professional assistance, the services of an appropriate professional should be sought.
Securities and advisory services offered through Cetera Advisor Networks LLC, member FINRA/SIPC.
Cetera is under separate ownership from any other named entity.
Not NCUA/NCUSIF Insured – No Credit Union Guarantee – Not A Deposit – May Lose Value
Not Insured By Any Federal Government Agency.

 

 

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Rollover Retirement $50.00 Gift Card

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What do you want your retirement to look like?

Rollover your IRA or 401K account(s) and receive a  $50.00 Gift Card!

UCCU Financial Group available at Utah Community Credit Union can consolidate your 401(k) or IRAs and help you:

  • Help building a plan keeps us with a changing market and can adapt as your needs change;
  • A wide range of investment options;
  • Allocate, diversify, and rebalance in one portfolio;
  • Provide on-going monitoring to ensure you’re on track to meet your financial goals.

For additional information, please contact Steve Lloyd

Phone: 801-223-7502
Fax: 801-431-8188
Email: lloyds@peakfns.com
 
 
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UCCU Financial Group

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Here at UCCU, we value our members more than anything.  We understand and realize how important your financial future is, and we want to assist you along the way.  UCCU Financial Group helps you find the best financial options, and provides a better understanding of the financial opportunities available to you.  So what are your options?

Investments & Life Planning

Our mission is to put you in control of your finances and your future.  That’s why we have partnered up with Cetera to give you the best options.  Options include: Mutual Funds, Life Insurance, REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust) Stocks, Bonds, and Social Security Maximization.

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Senior Insurance 

Senior Insurance can be difficult, confusing, and downright complicated, but with UCCU, we make it easy.  Senior Benefits Insurance Services will cover you for the short and long-term goals you have in mind, and guide you through Medicare, Long-Term Care, Recovery Care insurance, and Senior Dental offerings.

Senior Benefits

Health Insurance

With so many options to choose from for Health Insurance, which is the best road to take?   Miller & Wade, one of Utah’s largest insurance agencies, can offer a full suite of insurance products to both individuals and businesses.  Miller & Wade offers: Individual Health Insurance, Individual Dental Insurance, Individual Supplemental Insurance Plans, Individual Short-Term health Insurance Plans, Individual Vision, Group Dental Insurance, Group Life Insurance, Group Disability, Group Vision, and Group Supplemental Insurance Plans.

Miller Wade

Auto, Home, AD&D Insurance 

The harsh reality is, unexpected accidents may occur at any given time.  Are you prepared for the future?  Luckily, Auto and home insurance protects against damage infliction on your home or car.  AD&D also safeguards your family’s financial security against accidental death or dismemberment.  TruSTAGE can help you find the best options for Auto Insurance, Home Insurance, and Ad&D Insurance.

TruStage

We care about our members, and their future.  Let us assist you in your financial future, and help you find the best options for you, and your family. Whether you are trying to be a shareholder for a corporation, or simply trying to find the best health insurance option, we are here to help!  So please visit our UCCU Financial Group link today for more information!

If you have any question, click HERE for more information, or call us at 801-223-8188, or email us at questions@uccu.com

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Retirement Matters

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Retirement living conjures up various images. Some see retirement living as traveling. Others envision more family time. Still others simply look forward to more free time. No matter what your view, there are a number of questions and concerns that … Continue reading

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