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August 2019 E-Newsletter

What to Do When Back to School Bites You in the Budget


It might seem like you’ve been saving for back to school since you packed your children’s backpacks last fall. But after replacing worn-out erasers, outgrown clothes and an outdated laptop, you may still feel the financial pinch.

And then there are items for which you didn’t budget. Maybe it’s a budding interest in a travel sport, a fundraiser, or birthday cupcakes.

“Parents think they’re going to get a bonus because day care is gone,” says Court Creeden, a North Carolina-based financial adviser whose practice focuses on parents. “They quickly realize that all the expenses that come from school add up.”
Back to School
If the unexpected expenses are for the classroom, you might be tempted to say yes, even if they stress your bank balance. But if you can’t afford it all — or the asks seem excessive — here’s what to do.

Prioritize expenses
When working with a limited budget, you’ll have to choose what’s worth the cash.

“Sometimes kids do things because their friends are doing it. Then that may not be as high a priority as if it’s a requirement or related to college entrance examinations,” says Samantha Gregory, who blogs about parenting and finances at Rich Single Momma. She paid for her daughter to attend aviation camp because she felt it would bolster college applications.

If you want your child to build social skills, then activities with their friends may win out. The point is deciding what’s important to you, and then spending intentionally. Creeden asks his clients if “where they’re spending their money is in line with the life they’re trying to create with their family.”

Setting limits upfront can also help. “I always had a rule that for every term [my kids] could only be involved in one activity,” Gregory says. This helps head off ballooning extracurricular costs — and burnout.

Seek alternative funding options
If you believe an expense is worthwhile, but don’t think you can afford it, you might have other options.

Blogger Kumiko Love builds an emergency fund for last-minute school costs before the year starts. And when her son wanted to start wrestling, she planned meals around ingredients she already had and sold an unused couch to afford the equipment. “Having my son be involved in sports is important to me, so I gave up certain ‘wants’ for the month to compensate,” says Love, who writes at The Budget Mom.

Public school parents might find assistance with some school expenses through their Parent Teacher Association, says Heidi Emberling, director of Parents Place, a family resource center in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Or if you can’t donate to a fundraiser or classroom event, volunteer instead. “There are lots of ways to contribute, and money is only one of those ways,” Emberling says.

Use ‘no’ as a teaching moment
If you simply can’t afford a school expense, etiquette and lifestyle expert Elaine Swann recommends an “on-your-own-terms no.” That might mean offering an alternative, such as a sleepover in place of a pricey class overnight.

When her kids were younger, Gregory would explain, “We’re going to be doing this in a few months, so we’re saving the money for that.” And she suggests discussing your priorities with older kids and involving them in the decision. Sometimes “they end up telling themselves no, so I don’t necessarily have to,” she says.

Worried this sounds too sophisticated? It might not be; kids who already have an allowance are primed for a talk about financial trade-offs, according to Emberling.

Set limits with the school
Other times, you might have to tell a teacher or administrator “no.”

Gregory drew the line when she was asked to help furnish her child’s classroom with supplies. A parent-teacher conference is a great time to voice concerns, she says.

If you do participate in a fundraiser or other event, you can set a cap based on your budget. “It’s perfectly fine to say, ‘Here’s what I can do. You want me to buy three reams of paper? I can buy one,’” Swann says.

Most importantly, remember that once you’ve paid tuition — if you do — further requests for money are typically suggestions, Swann notes. After-school activities, fundraisers and other extras can be valuable, but “[they’re] not a requirement for your child to attend school,” she says.

Coulee Bank offers a variety of Simple Savings Plans to help you make saving for back to school easy!

The article What to Do When Back to School Bites You in the Budget originally appeared on Nerdwallet.com

Business Corner: How to Protect Your Business Credit Score

The major credit bureau Equifax experienced a massive data breach in 2Credit Score017, exposing personal information such as birthdates and Social Security numbers of more than 145 million American consumers. The thieves also stole credit card numbers for approximately 209,000 U.S. consumers, according to Equifax.

Small businesses were affected, as well. Some experienced financial losses after the breach and are suing Equifax, according to the National Law Journal.

"A data breach can make it harder for business owners to obtain financing because lenders take the owner’s creditworthiness into account."


It’s important to protect yourself. Business owners can find out if their personal information was exposed by visiting Equifax’s website. Click on the link that says “Am I Impacted?” From there, you’ll need to provide your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number to see if you have been affected by the breach.

If you’ve been affected, the Federal Trade Commission recommends you consider freezing your personal credit with the three major credit bureaus. The FTC says this will make it harder for someone to open a new account in your name.

If you don’t want to put a freeze on your credit, you can place a fraud alert on your credit, which tells potential creditors to verify your identity before issuing credit in your name. You’ll need to contact one of the three bureaus to do so. 

Even if you haven’t been affected by the breach, it’s a good idea to monitor your credit reports regularly for any activity that looks fraudulent. You’re entitled to get a free copy of your credit reports every 12 months from each of the three major credit bureaus, at AnnualCreditReport.com.

When monitoring your credit, look for new accounts that you didn’t open, credit inquiries that don’t match up with your credit applications or balances that don’t match your statements.

If you have any business related questions, our Business Banking Team is here to help!

This article, How to Protect Your Business Credit Score, originally appeared on www.nerdwallet.com

CDs vs. Savings Account: Which Should I Choose?


Savings for FamilyWhich is the better place to park your money, a certificate of deposit or savings account? Savings accounts give you more flexibility to make withdrawals, but CDs often offer a higher interest rate if you’re willing to leave your money alone for a set amount of time. Both options offer guaranteed returns. The best place to deposit your cash generally depends on how long you’re willing to leave it in your account.

What is a savings account?
A savings account is a bank account that typically earns interest while letting you withdraw money — to a point. Federal law limits certain types of withdrawals on savings accounts to six per month.

“Choose a savings account if: You might need access to the money in the near future. Savings accounts are especially good for emergency funds because they offer fast access to cash if you incur an unexpected expense. CDs often charge a penalty to make early withdrawals.

What is a CD?
A CD is a type of deposit account that often pays a higher interest rate than a standard savings account in exchange for restricting access to your funds during the CD term — often between three months and five years. Take money out before maturity, and you’ll often pay a penalty. 

Choose a CD if: You’re certain you won’t need to access your cash for at least a year. Many CDs with terms of at least 12 months offer rates that are higher than the best savings accounts.

“The minimum opening balance for a CD is often more than the minimum required to open a savings account.

Once you open the best account for your situation, you’ll be able to take the most enjoyable step: Sit back and watch your money grow.

Coulee Bank offers a variety of Savings Plans as well as great CD Rates.

The article CD vs. Savings Account: Which Should I Choose?originally appeared on Nerdwallet.com

Coulee Investment Center: Financial Planning: Critical for Women

A keyWoman Drinking Coffee goal of investing for retirement is making sure you save enough to make your money last throughout your lifetime. On this score, women may need to save more than men. The current life expectancy of a female at birth is roughly 81.3 years, compared with 76.5 years for a male.1 Although five years may not appear significant, many people in this age group incur expenses for health care and other items while living on Social Security and personal assets.

Keep in mind that life expectancy statistics are averages, and many people live much longer. It is not unusual for an individual's retirement to last 20 or 30 years or more. There is also the issue of the length of a person's career and how much time an individual has to build retirement assets. Many women take time off for caregiving responsibilities, and during these years, they may not be adding to their retirement portfolio.

In addition, time off from work may affect Social Security benefits because people who are not working do not earn credits that are used to determine retirement benefits. Also, parents, children, and other loved ones often have financial needs, and both women and men may provide help for family members, which may divert funds from retirement savings.

Estimating How Much You'll Need
Of course, every woman's life is unique, and many women capitalize on the benefits available to them, including participating in an employer-sponsored retirement plan or funding an individual retirement account, to build the assets needed for their later years. It's important to not underestimate how much you may need or the importance of ongoing contributions to retirement accounts to build assets over time. Although there are no guarantees, the longer you stay invested, the more likely that your contributions may benefit from compounding, when investment gains are reinvested and potentially earn even more over time.

Your financial advisor can help you calculate how much you are likely to need for your later years. Be sure to consider how you will pay for health care expenses not covered by Medicare or other medical insurance. When considering sources of retirement income, log on to www.ssa.gov to review your estimated retirement benefit from Social Security. If you find that your retirement assets are coming up short, delaying retirement or saving more while you continue to work may be helpful strategies.

Have financial questions? Shari Hopkins, our Certified Financial Planner, will provide you with financial guidance through every stage of your financial journey.

1. Source: Centers for Disease Control, National Vital Statistics Reports, United States Life Tables, 2015, August, 2017.
2. The information in this material is not intended as legal advice. Please consult legal or insurance professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. This information is not intended to be a substitute for individualized legal advice. Please consult your legal advisor regarding your specific situation.

Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Insurance products offered through LPL Financial or its licensed affiliates. Coulee Bank and/or Coulee Investment Center are not registered broker/dealers and are not affiliated with LPL Financial.

 
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