07 Dec

Beyond the Pension: Being Honest about Retirement

retirement planning

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a police officer. Your retirement options are unique and there’s no one size fits all retirement planning for police. However, there are a few harsh realities that you’ll thank yourself for facing now, and not waiting until your retirement date is fast approaching.

Harsh Reality: You MAY find it hard to plan for how to spend your post retirement days.

There are many reasons for this.

  • You have more retirement to plan for since you have option to retire after 20 years of service. Retirement planning for police needs to take this into account!
  • Your job and your fellow officers are unique and your identity is tied to being a police officer. Therefore, while other people can disassociate themselves with their job – your line of work makes that difficult.

Solution: Figure out NOW what you want to do in retirement

  • Remember that we often enjoy doing things we excel at. Meaning, if your post retirement plans include “taking up something” or “exploring xyz” it might be wise to try it out now to see if it will be a short lived experiment.
  • Research of retirees indicates those who are happiest in often answer the question, “What will you do with all that time?” with responses like “giving back” and “discovering a sense of purpose”. Volunteering also helps maintain social interactions we previously had at work.
  • Make a list of how you would fill in an entire week if you weren’t working. What new things would you like to learn about and what new places would you like to see? Where would you like to live? What experiences would you like to have?

Harsh Reality: Your ideas about how to spend time MIGHT NOT align with your spouse’s ideas.

For example, you may want to hit the road in an RV and she or he would rather stay close and spend more time with the grandkids.

Solution: Have honest conversations and find common ground now to avoid disaster later. Spend time, without distractions, to discuss what you each envision for your retirement.

If they ARE ready to hit the road, RMLEFCU offers RV loans!

Harsh reality: Unless you change as easily as a chameleon, your spending habits likely won’t look much different in retirement.

Solution:

  • If your tastes are expensive, have a plan to still bring in money if there is a gap where your savings and spending do not meet.
  • Look at downsizing or moving to a location where the cost of living is more affordable. We have some Colorado suggestions in this blog.
  • You may be able to use your home’s equity to improve your cash flow during retirement. There are a few reasons this could be a viable option for you.

Harsh reality: Not everyone reads the fine print of their pension

Solution: Now, rather than when you’re approaching retirement, is the time to familiarize yourself with the rules, timelines, and options affecting your pension plan. Do not try to read before going to bed. Read them very carefully.

RMLEFCU is Colorado’s only credit union dedicated to police officers and we understand retirement planning for police. For this reason, we have an in house financial planner, Debby Wilson, about your retirement plans. She’s been working with our members for 18 years and her expertise is invaluable.

16 Nov

Move Over Credit Card and Make Way for the Holiday Loan

holiday loan

Holidays are all about enjoying time with friends and family and being grateful for the blessings in your life. However, there are some pesky expenses that creep up this time of year. If you are traveling to see family or friends prepare yourself for airfare, hotels, and meals outside of the home. If you’re a gift-giver, your out of pocket spending grows with each recipient on your list. Furthermore, if you are hosting friends and family at your home, you will have to buy and prepare food for the festivities.

There is a good reason to take out a Holiday Loan with the Rocky Mountain Law Enforcement Credit Union and it’s often overlooked. Hint: There’s a percentage involved. That’s right, the interest rate on your credit card. Before you pull out the plastic, consider how much that interest rate affects the total amount you end up paying for each item on your list. Rather than use a credit card for a big ticket item like airfare or Christmas gifts, our Holiday Loan rates starting at 6.95%* can save you money over time.

A few suggestions on how to use your RMLEFCU Holiday Loan:

  1. An experience whose memories last longer than the holidays. Why experiences? Most importantly, research has shown they make you happier than consumer goods. You can take a longer trip during the holidays or book a trip for later in the year. We found one traveler who did a three week European tour for $2,500, including hotels and airfare. If you are willing to put in the time and research, you can save money.
  2. Love where you live with your very own sports bar. Do you entertain? Wish that you had a place where your friends can watch the games? Heck, you’ll save money at home by not buying drinks and food at a bar or restaurant. Use your Holiday Loan to by a big screen TV and speakers for surround sound.
  3. Up your game with new golf clubs. There’s a PGA Superstore in South Denver that will have everything you’d ever need.
  4.  Purchase a new firearm and accessories. Besides the gun itself, it’s a good idea to have spare magazines, ammunition, a gun lock and/or safe, eye protection, and ear protection. It depends on the firearm you select, but having a gun rack is an expense to consider. Check out 5280 Armory to support a local business owner.
  5. Hit the slopes all season long with a new ski or snowboard set up. If you’re getting fully outfitted you’ll also need a new ski jacket, pants, and boots in addition to a pass. If you go to Colorado Ski & Golf, you may end up covering #3 and #5 at the same time.

With Rocky Mountain Law Enforcement Credit Union’s 6.95% APR* Holiday Loan you’ll have up to 12 months to repay. Call our Loan Department at 303-458-6660 or visit rmlefcu.org today to begin the process.

*Annual Percentage Rate. With approved credit. Some restrictions may apply. But don;t delay, this offer valid from November 1st, 2016 thru December 31st ,2016.

11 Nov

Kasasa Protect is Equal Parts Security Guard, Investigator and Crisis Manager

identity theft prevention
What is your Identity Theft Prevention Plan?

Do you have a plan in place if someone opened up multiple accounts in your name? If identity theft has happened to you, do you remember how much time and energy you spent trying to clear your name? How many phone calls and forms did you fill out? Do you have time to simultaneously monitor your credit report and online records? Even if you have the time, do you feel confident that you’ve taken all the necessary steps to safeguard your personal information?

These questions are uncomfortable, yes, but so is being unprepared for identity theft. Thankfully, RMLEFCU members with Kasasa accounts, and even those without, are eligible to sign up for Kasasa Protect. Kasasa Protect is a comprehensive identity protection and restoration solution available for a low price of $8 a month for Kasasa accounts and $12 each month for non-Kasasa account holders.

How Kasasa Protect is like a Security Guard

Kasasa dedicates employees to monitor your credit card accounts and credit reports so they can immediately alert you to any suspicious activity. Kasasa Protect uses 24/7 Credit Monitoring to keep you informed of any changes related to:

  • Loan data
  • Inquiries about your credit history
  • New accounts opened in your name
  • Judgments
  • Liens

A unique feature is Kasasa Protect’s Monthly Credit Score & Tracker.

Benefits include:

  • Kasasa employees regularly review your credit score, helping you stay on top of your credit
  • You can avoid the cost of pulling full credit reports
  • Kasasa monitors trends over time to find out what is changing your score
How Kasasa Protect is like an Investigator

Kasasa performs Dark Web monitoring by scanning millions of international sources in real time. They also quickly pinpoint stolen data that could identify you, such as a social security number or medical identification numbers.

How Kasasa Protect acts as a Crisis Manager

Say you lose your wallet. Kasasa Protect steps up with their Lost Wallet Protection features:

  • One convenient point of contact handles cancellation and replacement of all your important documents
  • Restoration through Kasasa includes: your cards, licenses, social security cards, insurance cards, passports, military IDs, and even traveler’s checks

If your personal information is compromised, Kasasa acts as Crisis Manager with Identity Restoration. Their experts work to get you peace of mind, providing helpful advice and resolution services as soon as the fraud has occurred. Certified specialists file, dispute, and resolve issues with your credit card companies and can file fraud alerts, place credit freezes and notify authorities on your behalf.

Finally, Kasasa Protect understands you may be interested in the service and not interested in being locked into a service contract. No problem. You can enroll in Kasasa Protect contract free. Ask your RMLEFCU representative how to enroll or go online to put Kasasa Protect to work for you.

04 Nov

A Budget Savvy Holiday Gift Guide for Everyone on Your List

budget savvy holiday gift guide

The holiday season is fraught with excess. Overeating, overdrinking and overspending can lead to headaches, regret and a depleted bank account. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Just because you are frugal doesn’t mean you have to forego giving altogether or buy gifts for your friends and family at dollar stores. You can choose meaningful, local gifts for every personality on your list. For this budget  savvy holiday gift guide we selected local experiences and handcrafted items that recipients will appreciate and cherish long after Christmas.

Budget Savvy Holiday Gift Guide for:

The Foodie 
  • Denver Dining Out Passbook – $34.99- This is a good deal since it was $99 when it was first issued. The recipient has until 7/31/16 to use 2 for 1 deals from restaurants like DiFranco’s and our personal favorite Gaetano’s.
  • Cooking Classes from the Kitchen Table in Greenwood Village. Classes are usually $80-$95 with many including 5 course meals and wine. Plus you gain practical knowledge and a memorable experience.
The Philanthropist with Style

Threads Worldwide – A Denver based company that partners with fair trade cooperatives in twelve countries to create beautiful jewelry and accessories. Shop online here.

The Practical Philanthropist

Oxfam – Browse their online catalog and pick out a unique, symbolic gift. The best part is that your selection will benefit an individual in need. Gifts include a goat, a school meal program for one child, mosquito nets, etc.

The Sports Fan

Get them Season tickets to the Mammoth! There are nine home games and prices start as low as $80 for season tickets. It’s fast paced, high scoring, and you’re cheering on a local team.

Outdoors Enthusiast

Buy an Annual State Parks Pass for only $70 per vehicle. The Annual Pass can now be purchased at any time of year and is valid for a full 12 months of use.

Up for Anything Types

Buy them a Class with Dabble. Offerings are in person in the Denver metro area and include classes like: holiday wreath making, glassblowing, screen printing, and even beginning blacksmithing.

Tech Guru

Further their knowledge or help them get a jump on a new career with a class from the Colorado Free University.

The Police Officer

A Swiss Army knife with add-ons like a light, seat belt cutters, and window punches. Here’s one choice that is bound to come in handy. Or a good electric travel mug so that no matter how busy they are their beverage will stay the same temperature.

A Stressed Out Parent

An offer to babysit coupled with a restaurant gift certificate would be very appreciated. Another idea is a certificate for house cleaning from a professional such as 5280 Housecleaning or Maid Complete.

Congratulations! You’ve covered a lot of ground with this budget savvy holiday gift guide.

You can’t drive on an empty tank and you can’t be your best self without a little reward, right? Remember that with our Holiday Loan Slideby you can skip loan payments in December. Complete the coupon in this month’s newsletter (Dispatch) and turn it in to a branch as soon as possible to free up more holiday cash!

20 Oct

High Value Home Improvements to Make with Your HELOC

shutterstock_43156006_web

Did you know about 50% of Home Equity Line of Credit loans, aka HELOCs, are used to make home improvements according to the US Census Bureau’s Housing Survey? It’s a common sense move since the updates you make, especially in Denver’s market, are likely to reap rewards when you decide to sell. You can even use some of the new equity in your home you’ve earned with your labor (or a contractor’s) to pay for the old equity you borrowed. Winner! Winner!

How is a HELOC different than just a loan? A home equity line of credit is more like a credit card than a loan. Once the line of credit has been approved, the homeowner decides if and when to use the money and can withdraw it from the account as needed. Payments aren’t due until there’s an outstanding balance on the line of credit.

We published a post about HELOCs and rising home prices in Denver in an April 2015 blog post and one and a half years later, the song remains the same – home prices are still HOT. The average sold home price in metro Denver was around $398,663 then and now it’s just slightly lower at $396,700.

Did you know there are also tax benefits to getting a HELOC? If you itemize your taxes, you may be able to deduct the interest paid on a home equity loan or HELOC if the loan amount is limited to $100,000. It doesn’t matter if you used the money for home improvement, or a car, or a trip of a lifetime.

If you’re ready to build equity and want to choose a midrange remodeling project that will yield the greatest return, check these recommendations. Source: Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value 2016 edition for Denver, CO.

  1. Minor Kitchen Model
  2. Front door
  3. Deck
  4. Convert attic into a bedroom
  5. Garage Door Replacement

Even if you’re not going to be selling right away, consider how your HELOC can improve your quality of life in the home you’re in now. Consider the following scenario. Your home is worth $300k with a remaining mortgage of $150k, so you have $150k of equity in the home and you decide to invest $50k in a major kitchen remodel. The average ROI on this investment is 65 percent, so the project adds $32.5k of value to the home. While you now owe $200k on the home, it is now assessed at $332.5k. The homeowner has decreased the home’s overall equity by only $17.5k, and now enjoys a brand new $50k kitchen in a home that still has plenty of equity.

Talk to one of our RMLEFCU associates today about a HELOC! Find out more about our HELOC offerings here.

05 Oct

Use these Apps to Save Money on Eating Out

save money at restaurants

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer expenditure surveys, the typical household spends $2,625 each year, or around $219 per month on food outside the home.

Do you know how much you’re spending on eating out? One way to find out is to download a month’s worth of spending into an excel format. You can sort the vendor name alphabetically and quickly add up any restaurant names.

Those in higher income groups spend more on restaurants — around $370 per month — and those in the lowest income groups spend less, at around $104 per month.

Here are a few signs that you’re spending TOO much. Also, don’t forget that all beverages consumed outside the home should also be included

  • You spend more at restaurants than you do on groceries.
  • Your restaurant tab rivals your housing costs.

We don’t want to take away all of the fun of going out to eat so we’re listing our two favorite apps to save you money at restaurants. We selected these since they have the largest amount of restaurants to choose from and for ease of use.

Restaurant.com

Their website states, “Save up to 50% at 62,000 restaurants.” so you can be assured they have plenty of matches in most cities and decent sized towns.

How it works: You purchase a $25 gift certificate for $10, but they often run promotions where you can buy the same $25 gift certificate for just $2 or $3. $25 worth of food for $2.

Ease of use: You can search by restaurant name, cuisine type, city, or zip code. Why so cheap? You are accepting their restrictions:

Each restaurant has their own set of restrictions. Some of the most common are:

  • Minimum purchase ($35 or $50)
  • Dine-in only
  • Not valid Friday or Saturday night
  • Alcohol does not count toward minimum purchase
  • Not valid toward tax or tip
  • Limit 1 per table
  • Not valid with any other offers

Based on a search of Denver, CO – there were 68 restaurants within 5 miles, and 88 within 10 miles.

We recommend asking around or looking up the restaurant on Yelp before you buy.

Groupon – Your first step is to click on Categories and select “Food and Drink”, then “Restaurants.” You can filter by category, distance, price, or click on “Map” to see what is close.

As of 10/4/16, there were 147 matches. Groupon also regularly does special “Today Only” or “3 day deals” where the discounts are even deeper. As of 10/4/16 there is a Groupon-a-thon where certain restaurants deals are even cheaper. One example of a deal is a voucher good for $20 at Jack-N-Grill that you can purchase for $13 or a $40 voucher for $25.

So, go ahead. Charge up that phone, download that app, put on a nice shirt and go out to eat. If you use these apps you may be able to eat out for less than a home cooked meal.

03 Oct

The Easy Way to Use Coupons

Easy way to use coupons

Admit it. Using coupons seems like a lot of work. You’re busy and question whether the effort is worth it. Should you spend your precious time chasing after deals, visiting multiple stores, and only buying things when you have a coupon for them? We get it. Buying something that you never intended to buy only because you have a coupon is counterproductive. But if you follow our guidelines, using coupons can be convenient and save you both money and time.

First, you need to gather your coupons. There are four main sources:

  • newspaper inserts – can be manufacturer or store coupons
  • store’s website – you must print
  • mobile apps
  • store coupons – emailed or snail mailed

Which ones you use depends on your comfort level with technology and whether you can remember your printed coupons.

Easy Way to Use Coupons at Grocery Stores in Colorado

King Soopers will double manufacturer coupons of $0.50 or less while those worth $0.51 – $1.00 in savings will be redeemed for $1.00, and manufacturer coupons over $1.00 will be redeemed at face value.

At Sprouts, the number of coupons per transaction is unlimited. Sprouts coupons can be combined with a manufacturer’s coupon, unless stated it cannot be used in conjunction with any other coupons or offers. When purchasing a single item, Sprouts accepts one manufacturer coupon. They do not double coupons. Bonus tip: Because their weekly prices run from Wednesday to Wednesday, you can save the most in the middle of the week when the ads overlap.

Safeway is store dependent regarding doubling of coupons, so it’s best to ask at your preferred store. “Double coupon” promotions do not apply to any internet or digital coupons except for applicable internet printed manufacturer coupons.

Trader Joe’s has great deals to begin with and does not offer an app or mobile coupons.

At Walmart, you can’t double coupons, but they will price match.

Easy Way to Use Coupons at Hardware/Home Improvement Stores in Colorado

Most Ace Hardware stores are independently owned. Many will price match but you’ll have to ask the manager. If they do, they most likely follow these guidelines:

If you find a lower price on an identical item, at your local Home Depot or Lowe’s, just bring in their current ad and Ace will match their price.

If Home Depot or Lowe’s is offering a percent off discount, Ace will match the final net price the competitor is offering.

Home Depot – If you find a current lower price on an identical, in-stock item from any retailer, they will match the price and beat it by 10%. Just bring the ad, printout or photo with you to the register.

Lowe’s – If you find a lower everyday price on an identical item at a local retail competitor, just bring in the competitor’s current ad, and they’ll beat their price by 10%. If a competitor is offering a percent off discount, they’ll match the final net price.

In future posts, we’ll discuss other types of online coupons and daily deal sites like Groupon and Living Social.

Save on!

26 Sep

Can You Avoid Impulse Buying and Still Have Fun?

avoid impulse buying

We have to understand the beast before we can slay it, right? Impulse buying occurs anytime you buy something you did not plan for. It is characterized by thoughts, sometimes internal, other times spoken out loud, perhaps to a disapproving spouse, that include phrases like:

  • “But it was on sale!”
  • “Life is short and I’ve always wanted one of these.”
  • “I’ve been really good for so long, it was time to treat myself.”

Why do we buy things we don’t need? An affinity for self-destructive behavior? Hardly. No one wants to be in debt.

While research is split about the psychology of why we do it, it makes sense think about impulse buying as no different than eating something unhealthy. Let’s be realistic, you can’t eat healthy all the time and you can’t stick to a budget 100%. We eat when we’re either happy or sad and the same applies to our spending behavior.

Now that we’ve addressed that it’s emotional, it’s important to remember that both genders are guilty. Three out of four adults in this country make impulse purchases, according to a new survey by CreditCards.com “We found that men and women impulse shop about the same amount, but the way they feel and how much they spend are different,” said CreditCards.com senior analyst Matt Schulz.

  • Men were significantly more likely than women to spend serious money on an unplanned purchase. While just seven percent of the women said they had spent $500 or more, 21 percent of the men did. Men also made more impulse purchases of $1,000 or more.
  • Women tend to keep their impulse purchases small, under $25.
  • Men are more than twice as likely to make an impulse purchase when they’re intoxicated.
  • Women are twice as likely to buy impulsively when they are sad.
  • Women are more likely to regret making an impulse purchase: 52 percent of the women vs. 46 percent of the men said they experienced buyer’s remorse at one time. Stop impulse buying. It can be done.

Now that we’ve identified what impulse buying is, identified that emotions have an effect on whether we do it, and acknowledged both men and women are guilty, time for some tips!

  1. Always use a list! This is not limited to grocery shopping. There is a certain big box store, orange in color, where one purchase miraculously turns into many items you never knew you needed.
  1. Don’t bring your kids with you. If you have to, practice different ways of saying no, or use bribes of things that don’t cost money that you can do as soon as you leave the store.
  1. Find alternative activities for when you’re feeling stressed, sad, or overwhelmed. Recreational sports? New workout routine? Home improvement project?
  1. Put the item down if you are only buying it because it’s on sale or it’s 2 for 1.
  1. With the exception of the grocery store, try to avoid using a cart.
  1. Remove saved credit cards in shopping apps. Apps that come to mind are Amazon and Groupon.
  1. If it’s a big purchase, try to institute a 3 day rule where you spend that time thinking about it, weigh it logically against the rest of your financial needs and goals, and consider if you really need it.

RMLEFCU is here to help you avoid impulse buying and save more of your money. However, we can still acknowledge that all work and no play makes life pretty dull. Try a few of these tips and let us know how you avoid impulse purchases. We can save more and avoid guilt together!

14 Sep

Avoid Making a Big Money Mistake with these Questions

avoid big money mistakes

The best way to avoid a money mistake is to question big-ticket items fully before committing. Asking yourself these questions will help you help you maintain your financial health by avoiding unnecessary debt. If it doesn’t relate to heating your home, drying your clothes, keeping your house dry, or getting you to work – the purchase is likely not one you MUST make.

This brings us to the first question in our series that you’ll want to answer.

1. Is it necessary? Can you function in your day to day life without it?

We realize we’re being strict, but a narrow view of necessities is key to maintaining control over your finances. You may have guessed from the introduction that we consider a new heater, a dryer and a car to be necessities. Boats, vacations to Tahiti, and kitchen renovations are typically not.

2. Can you borrow? Buy used?

Use Facebook or Nextdoor to put a call out. Examples of things you might be able to borrow include phones and laptops. They are necessary for us to maintain our jobs but if we don’t have the money to buy them new, one option would be to borrow or buy a sparingly used phone or laptop from a friend. Furthermore, while you wouldn’t borrow a dryer, you might make due without one for the summer months by hanging up your clothes to dry outside, using a neighbor’s, or going to the closest laundromat until you have saved up enough to buy your own.

Some items are harder to borrow, like a car or truck. Having a reliable vehicle to get you and your loved ones to where they need to go is important. RMLEFCU is proud to partner with AutoTrek for honest car buying advice. They are offering the following incentives to RMLEFCU members for used and new cars:

  • $100 gas card
  • Discounted prices on 2017 models
  • Exclusive access to 50,000 used models online and over 100 on their lot

3. Shop around if possible and pay attention to reviews.

The Internet and social media make it so much easier to Google the specific brand and model of many big-ticket items and find out who has the best price. A little research can save you a lot of money.

4. Can you do it yourself? Do you have the time? Are you handy?

Be honest not only with how capable you are, but with how much time you are willing to give up to fix or replace the item yourself. YouTube videos can be useful to show you how to properly cut a mango, but hanging drywall may be best left to a team who has done it before.

We have mentioned starting an emergency fund in many of our articles. If you don’t have one, here’s a few reasons why you should. Thankfully, RMLEFCU offers a service called Courtesy Pay that will allow check, debit and ACH items to be paid up to $1,000 by allowing your checking account to go into the negative; rather than returning the overdraft item. This will help keep you out of debt in case you have any financial emergencies.

Speak with a RMLEFCU employee about our current AutoTrek promotion and Courtesy Pay today!

11 Sep

Dollars and Cents for Parents to Be

financial advice for new parents

Financial Advice for New Parents

We won’t bore you with the oft-quoted figures of what it costs to raise a child until their 18th birthday. We feel it’s counterproductive to scare you and we think those estimated figures are wildly inaccurate anyway. It’s expensive. Let’s leave it at that. *Note that we are not factoring in any college related expenses for this post.

Let’s start from the beginning. The moment you discover you are going to be spending many weekends at home, aka, you’re expecting, dig out your health insurance paperwork and find out what maternity expenses are covered and what is not taken care of. Specifically ask questions like:

  • What’s the procedure for adding your new baby to your plan?
  • Will the plan cover your newborn’s nursery stay? Remember that your newborn’s hospital bill will be separate from your own. Typically, a health insurance plan will provide coverage only if you enroll your child for dependent benefits within 30 days of birth.
  • Will the plan cover the costs of a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) stay for your newborn?

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