18 Jan

5 Financial Milestones to Hit in 2017

Financial milestones are goals we aim to achieve. Some should be stressed at certain milestones in our own life. In this vein, we picked five financial goals you may have depending on your current age.

Are you just entering workforce?

Start saving for retirement

If you can stand to, save 10% of your salary. The earlier you start doing this, the more you can take advantage of compound interest. If you’re a woman, chances are you will live longer (sorry boys), so try and factor that into your retirement savings. Although you may be receiving a pension if you joined the force, it might not be enough for you to live on entirely.

You’re in Your Mid-Twenties

Set up an emergency fund

Save to be able to cover all your expenses for 6 months if you’re single, three months if you’re married. Start by adding $100 a month to a separate account. You can set up an automatic withdrawal from your checking account to help build your emergency fund.

You are shy of or just on the other side of 30 

Pay off your credit card debt –

Eliminate the higher interest rate debt first. This could be credit cards or student loans. If your rates are near double digits, look into consolidating your loans for a lower rate or taking advantage of a free credit card balance transfer to a RMLEFCU Visa.

The big 4-0 has happened 

Max out your retirement contributions!

One way to do this is to meet your employer’s match.

There are two ways to look at this:

  1. Free money that you can’t claim unless you opt-in.
  2. A 3-6% bump in your salary that you didn’t have to work for or negotiate.

Another way is to add to your retirement portfolio with an IRA account. Look at whether a Roth or Traditional plan is best for your situation. Consider whether you want to pay taxes up front or when you take the money out after retirement. It’s difficult to imagine, but try to figure out whether you will remain in a similar tax bracket upon retirement. Some people want to spend more in retirement and travel while others expect to spend less.

You are 50 or older 

Prepare to downsize

  • Are you storing your children’s belongings? If it isn’t important enough to be in their apartment or with them at college – it shouldn’t be taking up precious space in your home?
  • Can you get by on one car?
  • Could you do without extra bedrooms and unused space?
  • Will you need a one level home in the future? Less of a yard?

If you’ve answered yes to any of the above, then you are a great candidate to downsize your home and your stress.

Best of luck to all of our members who are at different stages in their lives. If you would like to talk to someone about other personal financial milestones, please reach out to Debby, RMLEFCU’s in house financial planner. Learn more at https://www.rmlefcu.org/resources/financial-planning.html

You can achieve your financial goals in 2017!

04 Jan

3 Ways to Pay Off High Interest Credit Cards

Did your holiday excesses extend to all aspects of your life? If so, we have a few suggestions about how you can pay down your high interest credit cards.

  1. Free cash advances on RMLEFCU credit cards*

    – Normally a credit card company would charge a fee of 3-5% of the amount of cash you withdraw. With RMLEFCU it is free. Use this cash to pay down another card or an outstanding bill.

  1. Free balance transfers onto a RMLEFCU credit card*

    – This is a great member benefit since 3% of the amount you are transferring is usually the price you pay for transferring a credit card balance.

RMLEFCU has three different credit cards to choose from.

  • Classic Visa®
  • Platinum Visa Select® – 7.25% APR*.
  • Platinum Visa® – 12.75% APR* by visiting UChooseRewards.com

The idea behind a balance transfer is simple. You open a new credit card with a low interest rate and move the balance from your old, high-interest card to the new one. Essentially, this means that the debt on your old card has been paid by the new card. After you complete the transfer to the new card, you can start paying it down. You’ll be amazed at how much you can save when your interest payments have been drastically reduced.

Read More

22 Dec

Teaching Teens about Money

Lesson 1: Stress Savings!

There are many reasons that saving is first on this list. Teaching teens about money needs to begin with how they can save what they earn. Having savings can protect them against a lifetime of debt and financial security.

  • Saving money can help teenagers reach a financial goal and have more respect for the purchase. For example, putting a down payment on a car. When they’re more invested in the vehicle, you can bet they’ll be safer driving it.
  • Saving money is one way to avoid life’s hiccups, aka unforeseen incidents. If they lose their job or head off to college but still have expenses like car insurance, their savings will help.
  • If they have money saved, they’ll earn financial peace of mind. Life as a teenager is stressful enough – why make it more so by worrying about late payments.
  • More Money = More Independence from you. The more money they save, the less they have to rely on you and the more financial decisions they can make on their own. Teens need some financial independence and it is made possible due to savings.

Here is another article we wrote that talks about savings. If you are interested in setting up a savings account for young person, talk to a RMLEFCU representative about our piggy bank savings account. We’ll automatically kick off their savings with a $25 CD!

Read More

14 Dec

5 Cars to Keep You Driving Smoothly in the Snow

Rocky Mountain Law Enforcement Federal Credit Union is proud to partner with AutoTrek in their mission to help our members find EXACTLY the car they need or want. AutoTrek employees will do the legwork and research for you. They will even bring the car to your work or home for a test drive! Your weekend will remain a car shopping free zone while AutoTrek works their magic to bring your car to you! Right now AutoTrek has 5 vehicles on their lot for driving smoothly in the snow. Whether you have a large family, or are a solo driver, one of these cars will work for you!

BONUS: RMLEFCU will match up to $500* towards your down payment on any car purchased in December at AutoTrek!

2005 Chevrolet Tahoe, $12,989, 121k miles

chevy-tahoe

2011 Toyota 4 Runner SR5, $21,989, 90k miles

toy4runner

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07 Dec

Beyond the Pension: Being Honest about Retirement

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

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 need 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 purchase 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 is valid from November 1st, 2016 thru December 31st , 2016.

11 Nov

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

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

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

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.