More people are concerned about their financial future: 4 steps to protect yours
(BPT) - Finances are consistently a top concern for many Americans, with “saving money” a top-10 most common New Year’s resolution. This year, Americans are more concerned than ever before due to the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
USE Credit Union reported that more than 75% of non-transactional calls received since the start of the pandemic were from members concerned about their financial future, citing economic hardship as the primary reason for concern. The economy and job market remain in a state of constant flux, which is causing many families to worry about their ability to pay an unexpected bill, continue to pay off student loans, mortgages or credit card debt, or save money for the future.
“Saving money is more than just putting spare change into a coffee can, or simply ordering takeout less often,” said Jeff Schroeder, vice president and chief product officer at Mercury Insurance. “Sure, those things can add up over time, but people may find that their greatest savings can come from taking a look at the necessary expenses they pay for every month, such as insurance.”
Schroeder recommends these four tips to help protect your finances in the coming year:
1) Check your auto insurance coverages. There’s no reason to pay for more coverage than you need, but being underinsured can leave you exposed. “The cost of repairs after a collision has grown in recent years, as a result of more crossovers and SUVs on the road, and more technologically advanced vehicles,” said Schroeder. “Beyond paying for more expensive repairs if your insurance doesn’t cover it, if you’re underinsured, you may also be responsible for paying out of pocket for medical bills, which could potentially devastate savings for a down payment on a house, your child’s college tuition or a future vacation. It’s vitally important to make sure you have the right amount of auto insurance coverage to protect against unforeseen events.”
2) Know what your homeowners insurance covers. First and foremost, be sure to read your policy so you’re clear about what it does and doesn’t cover. It’s a good idea to check in with your insurance agent each year to ensure you have adequate coverage, especially if you’ve made renovations, own collectible or valuable items, or live in an area that’s prone to flooding or earthquakes, as standard homeowners insurance policies typically don’t cover these situations. Also, maintain a home inventory to make sure to have an accurate record of your belongings and property.
3) Be aware of potential gaps in coverage. A standard homeowners insurance policy often doesn’t cover mechanical failures to your home’s appliances, HVAC or other essential systems, nor does it cover a break to service lines on your property that supply your home with electricity, gas or sewer functions. In either of these scenarios, this means you would be responsible for writing a big check to a repair company or having to purchase a pricy replacement. However, adding home systems protection and service line protection endorsements can help provide coverage for costly repairs and replacements, saving money and your peace of mind. Pennies spent now can save you thousands of dollars later.
4) Regularly shop for the best coverage and price. Insurance prices can vary significantly from company to company, so it’s a good idea to take a few minutes to see if you’re getting a good deal. Shop around at least once a year — making sure to look for the exact same coverage limits — to see if you can find a more affordable rate.
“Often, regional insurers like Mercury Insurance are more attuned to their policyholders' needs and can offer better rates,” Schroeder added.
The most effective way to make sure your finances are minimally impacted by insurance costs this year is to speak to an independent insurance agent. They can help make sure you have the proper amount and type of coverage to keep yourself, your family and property protected.
Most Americans say they're optimistic about a brighter financial future in 2021
(BPT) - As we enter 2021, here’s one more essential item to put on your list in addition to canned goods and masks: a financial checkup. According to Fidelity Investments’ 2021 New Year Financial Resolutions Study, more than two-thirds of Americans experienced financial setbacks in 2020, often from the loss of a job or household income or another emergency expense. Even those lucky enough to maintain their income still may have had to tap savings to help others, as nearly one in five attribute their financial setback to providing “unexpected financial assistance to family members or friends.” Despite this, many Americans remain optimistic and determined to make their money work harder in the New Year, with 72% confident they’ll be in a better financial position in 2021.
“Americans are clearly ready to leave 2020 behind and start 2021 off on the right foot, including when it comes to their finances,” said Stacey Watson, senior vice president with oversight for Life Event Planning at Fidelity Investments. “This year’s top financial resolutions are consistent with what we’ve seen in the past, however, what makes 2021 unique is how people will achieve them, given the financial pressures and major life events many continue to experience throughout the pandemic.”
This year, 65% of Americans are considering a financial resolution for 2021, which is down marginally from last year (67%), but still quite strong given the headwinds experienced by so many families. Younger generations appear to be more committed to actively improving their finances in the new year, with 78% of all Gen Z and Millennial respondents considering a financial resolution compared to 59% of all Gen X and Boomers.
“Younger generations are building up their careers, families and finances, so it makes sense they have important financial resolutions to make. Still, Gen-X-ers and Boomers also experienced significant financial challenges in 2020 and may want to consider making some resolutions of their own to build a stronger financial future particularly when it comes to retirement readiness,” continued Watson.
Making a resolution, and checking it twice
Resolutions are an important start, but the key is to keep good financial routines going strong well beyond January — and ultimately have them become life-long habits. The study reveals the key to a successful resolution is the good feeling of making progress and setting clear and specific financial goals. Having someone to help keep you on track and hold you accountable also plays a role, as nearly one-in-five indicated this was a major reason they were able to stick to a financial resolution last year. In fact, more than three-quarters (77%) of people working with a financial professional were able to stick to their financial resolution in 2020, compared to just half (50%) of those who did not work with one.
Putting 2020 in the rearview
To help build a better financial future, consider these three things you can do to move forward:
To get more tips for making and keeping your financial resolutions, visit Fidelity.com.
This study presents the findings of a national online survey, consisting of 3,011 adults, 18 years of age and older. The generations are defined as: Baby Boomers (ages 56-74), Gen X (ages 40-55), millennials (ages24-39), and Gen Z (ages 18-23; although this generation has a wider range, we only surveyed adults for the purposes of this survey). Interviewing for this CARAVAN® Survey was conducted October 14-21, 2020 by Engine Insights, which is not affiliated with Fidelity Investments. The results of this survey may not be representative of all adults meeting the same criteria as those surveyed for this study. Margin of error is +/- 1.79% at the 95% confidence level. Smaller subgroups will have larger error margins.
Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC, Member NYSE, SIPC, 900 Salem Street, Smithfield, RI 02917
It is never too late to start planning for your future or even planning for next week. Managing your finances in your 20s is an essential step in order to be better prepared for the years ahead. This article serves as a guide on how to get started to secure your financial future - today!
When you are in your 20s, there are countless things to worry about: Creating an independent life on your own is challenging, a work-life balance isn’t always easy to achieve, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be difficult. Beyond all of that, it is also necessary to manage your finances. Money for bills and other life necessities is one aspect, but it is also essential to plan for your financial future. While it is never too early to start working towards this, if you are not careful, you might start planning for your financial future too late. There are also the added benefits of early financial planning, forming smart money habits, and small amounts now growing into much more significant amounts in the future.
Even if you are starting with small investments, starting early will have considerable benefits in the long run. While small investments will begin with small returns for you, those small returns will begin to grow from compounding interest. Monitoring your investment accounts and ensuring your returns are adequately reinvested will gradually become a source of personal wealth.
You Need a Healthy Financial Portfolio
As you begin to invest, it is best to not look into only one investment opportunity. Creating a diverse portfolio of investments allows your wealth to grow even in volatile markets. Beyond that, it is vital to understand the immediate impact of your financial health. Your financial portfolio determines how much of a house you can afford. It also affects lines of credit and other large purchases.
Planning Now Means Less Stress Later
Establishing a financial portfolio with smart investments is more than an immediate benefit; it is also a step towards your long-term financial planning. While retirement seems like a long way off during your 20s, It will happen before you realize it, and an intelligent financial portfolio can help you get set for it. Not to mention, emergencies will inevitably occur in your life that will make planning even more essential. By having a healthy portfolio, you might not be able to fully prepare for them, but you can at least be prepared to pay for them with a lesser degree of stress.
It is never too late to start planning for your future or even planning for next week. Managing your finances in your 20s is an essential step in order to be better prepared for the years ahead.
Please check out our other financial-related topics here!
Your home is the most significant investment for almost every American. Do you know how to choose the right coverage for you and your family? Here's tips how.
How to pick the right homeowners insurance
(BPT) - If you're like many Americans, your home may be your most valuable asset. That's why it's so important to protect it with homeowners insurance. Plus, it's probably a requirement of your mortgage. Setting up your coverage the right way starts with understanding the major parts of a homeowners policy.
Consider the following information and tips from the USAA Home Learning Center:
This protection covers the cost of repairing or rebuilding your home if it's damaged or destroyed. When you select the amount, keep in mind the cost to rebuild your home is different from its market value.
It's important to get the dwelling coverage right and to monitor it over time to make sure it keeps up with construction costs to rebuild. Under most homeowners policies, if you file a claim and have underinsured your home, your payout may be reduced.
Some insurers will help you estimate the rebuilding cost. They take into account the features, materials and finishes that make your home unique.
Personal property protection
This protection covers your furniture, clothing and pretty much everything else inside your home. Most policies set the amount of personal property protection as a percentage of the dwelling coverage.
It may not be enough, though. Homeowners plans set limits on certain high-value items. If you own expensive jewelry, art, guns, stamps, furs, cameras, computers, silver or collectibles, you'll want to consider buying valuable personal property insurance. This is sometimes called a "personal articles floater."
When you set up your homeowners policy, you may have to make an important choice about how to reimburse losses. There are two approaches:
To make your recovery from a loss as smooth as possible, replacement cost coverage is recommended.
This is one of the most important and least appreciated forms of protection offered through homeowners coverage. It protects you if you're found to be at fault for someone's injury or property damage. It even covers you for non-automobile incidents away from your home. Generally, it also covers your legal costs associated with such claims against you.
As a rule, your liability coverage should at least be equal to the total value of your assets for both your homeowners and auto insurance. If your assets are higher than the maximum coverage allowed under the policy, consider purchasing umbrella insurance to cover the difference. This is important to protect the savings and other assets you've worked hard to acquire.
As with other types of insurance, a deductible is the part of a loss that you're responsible for covering out of your own pocket. The higher your deductible, the lower your monthly premium.
Choosing a higher deductible can save you money with a lower monthly premium but increases the risk you take. Consider the amount of cash you typically have on hand in your emergency fund or checking and savings accounts. Make sure you can cover the deductible amount comfortably.
What may not be covered
Your policy's basic coverage won't cover some special risks.
For additional information on protecting your home, visit USAA.com/Homeowners.
When it comes to economics, many teens’ mouths write checks their knowledge can’t cash. Help influence the financial literacy of a teen in your life with these practical money-management tips.
5 Financial Tips for Teens
(Family Features) When it comes to economics, many teens’ mouths write checks their knowledge can’t cash.
While 93% of American teens say they know how the economy works, 29% have had no economic schooling, according to a survey of 1,000 U.S. teens ages 13-18 by Wakefield Research on behalf of Junior Achievement and the Charles Koch Foundation. Even in light of their false confidence, teens are aware of the importance of financial education.
Although the study identified numerous gaps in economic and financial knowledge, it also showed teens do know where to look for credible information. Two-thirds (67%) recognize they should use their school as a resource.
“One of the things we hear often is that some textbooks are written too academically for most students to understand the concepts,” said Jack E. Kosakowski, president and CEO of Junior Achievement USA. “Our programs, which work as a complement to the school curriculum, are written from the perspective of today’s teens and use digital content to help bring economic concepts to life for students.”
Beyond the classroom, another 63% of students believe they should use their parents as resources for economics education. Help influence the financial literacy of a teen in your life with these practical money-management tips adapted from the curriculum.
Set goals. Managing your money is more meaningful when you’re doing it with purpose. This might mean budgeting to ensure you have enough money to maintain your auto insurance and keep gas in your car, or you may be saving for a big senior trip. Knowing what you want to achieve with your money can help you plan how you spend it more wisely.
Weigh needs vs. wants. When you begin making your own money, it’s easier to indulge your own wishes and spend money on things you don’t necessarily need. To some extent, that’s not a bad thing; rewarding yourself is fine when you do so within reason. That means not exceeding your available funds, and not forsaking things you truly need, like gas money to get to and from a job or school.
Get a debit card. Most people find that having cash on hand makes it easier to spend. If you use a debit card instead, you’re an extra step away from spending so you have a little more time to consider your purchase. Another benefit of a debit card is it helps track your purchases in real time so you can keep constant tabs on your balance and ensure you don’t overdraft your account.
Start a savings habit. Even if your income doesn’t allow for much, it’s a good idea to get in the habit of setting aside a portion of each check. It may only be $10, but over time each $10 deposit can build your account toward a long-range goal.
Protect your privacy. Teens who’ve grown up in the digital age tend to be less skeptical and cautious about privacy matters than their elder counterparts. It’s important that young people understand the potential impact of failing to protect their privacy when it comes to financial matters, including the possibility that their identities could be stolen and all of their money siphoned away. Teaching kids about security is an essential lesson in economics.
Visit ja.org for more tips and information to help raise your teen’s financial literacy.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
Every year, millions of American workers enroll in employee benefits through their workplaces during a period known as annual enrollment. It’s usually a short window of time, but employees make crucial financial decisions for their families for the coming year. In addition to medical insurance, consider these voluntary benefits that can help bridge the gap between what health insurance covers and what you’re financially responsible for.
Help Safeguard Your Family’s Finances
(Family Features) Every year, millions of American workers enroll in employee benefits through their workplaces during a period known as annual enrollment. It's usually a short window of time, but employees make crucial financial decisions for their families for the coming year.
In addition to medical insurance, many employers offer a range of voluntary benefits - those you select and pay for yourself, often by having the cost deducted directly from your paycheck. These voluntary benefits can help bridge the gap between what health insurance covers and what you're financially responsible for, especially as more employees opt for high-deductible health insurance plans.
In fact, according to a poll of 1,512 full-time U.S. workers conducted by employee benefits company Unum, 49% of working adults plan on enrolling in a high-deductible health plan for the coming benefit year, with Millennials (58%) and Gen Z'ers (54%) at even higher rates.
"While high-deductible health plans offer lower monthly payments, that can mean more financial responsibility for policyholders when they need to use the benefit," said personal finance expert Laura Adams. "Combining a high-deductible health plan with a health savings account can offset out-of-pocket costs, but it's also a good idea to consider voluntary benefits like disability, accident and hospital insurance to further financially protect your family."
If an accident, illness or injury prevents you from working, disability insurance replaces a portion of your income. While it may seem unlikely to many they would ever experience a disability, it's more common than some realize. Based on 2019 information from the Social Security Administration, more than 1 in 4 of today's 20-year-olds will become disabled before reaching age 67.
Accident and hospital insurance can pay a lump sum directly to you to offset out-of-pocket costs associated with medical care often not covered by health insurance.
Voluntary benefits, policies and details vary, so it's essential to review your options and discuss with your family before your benefits enrollment begins.
"Investing a little additional time on the front end can help reduce your family's financial risk down the road," Adams said.
For more information about employee benefits, visit Unum.com/benefits.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
As wedding season begins to quickly roll around once again, many couples are seeking to make their special day unique. Whether you're going for an out of this world theme or getting your wedding dance choreographed there is no doubt that unique is the end goal here. However, many are seeking to go above and beyond the day of the wedding, and looking for that something special to last throughout their marriage. The following list entails some of the most unique ideas when it comes to choosing your wedding ring.
Forego a Traditional Ring—Use Tattoos Instead
A wedding ring has been the staple of marriage for at least a couple of hundred years now. They represent a tight bond between two people and a visual of it as well. However, couples today don't seem to be satisfied with simply an object as a representation of their commitment. Therefore, a new trend has emerged amongst younger, soon to be married couples. This trend includes the addition of a tattoo on each of their bodies. Usually, it's the date of the wedding or their names, which are marked somewhere on their skin, but some have even gone so far as to tattoo an entire portrait of themselves! Needless to say, this is one way to truly show your commitment.
Rings That Support a Cause
Often the things that bring people together are their shared values. We constantly hear stories about people meeting within a school social club or while volunteering at a local shelter. Nevertheless, these shared values are a big part of one's life. Why not continue this into the marriage with the inclusion of a wedding ring that supports that cause? There are differences between lab created diamonds and mined diamonds but none as obvious as the eco-friendly nature of one over the other.
Forget About the Centerpiece Look
One of the most common designs of a wedding ring is that big centerpiece diamond. While this may look very impressive, it does not make it unique. New designs are popping out today that incorporate the value of a centerpiece but with a different approach. We highly recommend looking at wedding rings that showcase multiple diamonds spread across the band. These beautiful designs not only keep the value of the ring but they give it that extra bit of uniqueness. Choosing a wedding ring design that will be yours to keep and look at for years may be a little daunting. Therefore, we recommend understanding your expectations and what is realistically possible to obtain. We hope that the list above has provided you with some ideas to make your wedding ring that much more unique.
Looking for more unique styling tips? We recommend reading another article from The Beauty IDEA.
(BPT) - When it comes to managing your monthly bills, it doesn’t get much more convenient than auto-pay. Because this option eliminates missed payments and late fees, it’s easy to see why three-quarters of Americans have opted in, with anywhere between one and seven monthly payments, according to recent survey findings.
However, consumers are also discovering that enlisting in auto-pay isn’t without its financial downsides. The following survey findings from TheZebra.com (an insurance comparison site) show how auto-pay can make consumers complacent.
* Nearly a quarter of people (23%) admit to not paying attention to what’s coming out of their bank accounts. If the result is an overdrawn account or a billing error slipping through, that can prove to be a costly mistake.
* One-third (29%) of respondents confess to forgetting to cancel services linked to autopay after they’ve stopped using the services. A couple prime examples of this are a music streaming service subscription or a gym membership.
* Nearly half of consumers indicate that once auto-pay is set up for their car insurance payments, they never get around to re-evaluating their fees. Considering the market value of our cars depreciates every year, this suggests that many consumers are missing an opportunity to get the best coverage at the best price, as car insurance rates can change daily.
* Finally, by not taking time to evaluate costs or cancel unused services, consumers are paying the price. Some 29% of respondents estimate they’re losing $100 annually, but for high-ticket items like a gym membership, the savings could be in the thousands.
Now that you know the high price you may be paying for the convenience of auto-pay, here are some tips to help you stay in control of your finances.
1. Keep track of your statements. Because money is withdrawn from your account each month, it’s easy to lose track of your spending. Otherwise, if a price hike takes effect or if you end up consuming more services than expected, the consequence can be a higher-than-expected bill. If your bank account lacks the funds to cover it, you’ll end up with an overdraft, which can end up costing you more than any late fee! So when auto-pay takes effect, make sure you review the monthly statements. If you see an additional charge or a price hike take effect, follow up immediately.
2. Research rates at least twice a year. While your service provider may offer excellent service at a great rate, it’s always possible there’s a better deal for you somewhere else. Take time to research and compare the going rates for things like internet service and car insurance — you may be pleasantly surprised. To make sure you follow this step, set up six-month reminders on your phone or calendar and commit yourself to following through. If you end up using the service less often than you planned — or not at all — this reminder can give that much-needed nudge to reevaluate.
3. Take time to fully understand your options. As you know, some service agreements, such as gym memberships and mobile phone contracts, can’t be canceled without penalty — at least, not until you’ve reached a specific end date. But don’t make the mistake of thinking this rule applies to all service agreements. For example, did you know you can switch your car insurance anytime without paying a penalty? It’s true! In fact, once you switch, your old insurer will send you a rebate for the balance, even if time remains on your six- or one-month policy. So go ahead and shop around. If you find a car insurance provider that’s more affordable and provides the coverage you need, you can reap the benefits right away. Just remember, if you do decide to switch, don’t cancel the old policy until the new one is officially in place. Otherwise you might get charged a penalty for the gap in coverage.
How to save on a big bill: Car insurance
Looking for a better price on car insurance? TheZebra.com allows you to see how your current policy stacks up to the rest. The Zebra is the only auto insurance comparison site that shows you all your options side by side, and never sells your data. When you shop around with The Zebra, you can rest assured knowing you won’t get any unwanted calls or emails. Visit www.thezebra.com and see how much you could be saving on car insurance.
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