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Mind Hacks to Help You Save

Mind Hacks to Help You Save

Even with the best of intentions, many of us find ourselves swiping our debit card or clicking “buy now,” then wishing we had that money back later. When you’re trying to increase your savings, some of the biggest obstacles to progress can be found within yourself. Fortunately, a few simple mind hacks can turn the tables on unhelpful financial habits.

Make It Harder to Spend

Every day, we encounter many opportunities — and lots of encouragement — to spend money. Advertisements urge us to purchase, online shopping makes it instant and delivery services make it convenient. One of the keys to saving, for many, is removing temptation, which means knowing your triggers. If you thirst for thrift, stay out of your usual bargain-hunting grounds and avoid the discount aisle at all costs. Also steer clear websites with deal countdowns and other pressures to “buy now.” Shop with a list, and stick to it.

You also may need to explore your feelings around spending. Studies show that we often spend more when we’re stressed. So if you engage in too much retail therapy, set yourself up for success by choosing a relaxing, free activity like reading a book, meditating or taking a walk instead. Shopping with cash rather than credit can also help put the brakes on instant gratification — plus, you’re forced to stop when your wallet is empty. And even waiting 24 hours after first spotting something temping can help you figure out if you really want or need it — or if it was merely the urge to splurge.

Make It Easier to Save

Simplifying your savings routine and minimizing obstacles can also be helpful. A lot of the time, the way we save money is through an active process — we go over our accounts and set aside a certain amount each cycle. Try making saving automatic instead. Start by setting up auto-deposits into your savings account and have contributions automatically deducted from your paycheck and deposited into your employer-sponsored retirement account.

Make Saving More Rewarding Than Spending

If you’re the competitive type, sometimes a little challenge can be just what you need to get into a money-saving mindset. Setting savings goals and visualizing them with a vision board, spreadsheet or chart can help keep you motivated. Or turn savings into a game. One study by the financial assistance nonprofit Commonwealth showed that people who used a gamified savings app that lets them complete challenges and earn badges saved 25% more than others.

Hack Your Habits

Saving money is a gradual and lifelong process — and it takes commitment and consistency. No matter what strategies and hacks you choose to help you save, the best thing you can do to increase your savings is whatever you’ll stick to. Find the methods that work for you, and over time you’ll be able to hack your mindset, build good financial habits and reboot your savings.



Does Your Budget Need an Update?

Does Your Budget Need an Update?

Having a budget is a great way to take charge of your financial health. In fact, people who track their spending are more likely to owe under $5,000 in debt than those who dont. A budget can help you stay on track toward achieving goals like a secure retirement, but as your life changes, your budget may require updating from time to time. So, whether youre planning for your dream home, a vacation or a debt-free future, its important to make sure your budget reflects your current financial reality. Here are some common reasons you might need to reassess your budget. 

Changes in Income (Up or Down) 

If your income changes, adjust your budget accordingly. With a raise, you might want to allocate more money to savings or retirement accounts or pay down debt more rapidly. On the other hand, if you lose a job or face a pay cut, you may need to reduce a few discretionary expenses, such as eating out, until you’re able to recoup the lost income. 

Major (and Minor) Life Changes 

Major life changes, such as moving or purchasing a home, a serious illness, starting a family or getting married tend to significantly impact household budgets across several spending categories. But even less drastic changes, such as a costly home repair bill or a car purchase, will often require budgetary adjustments. In the event a complete overhaul is needed, it may be wise to seek out assistance from a qualified financial professional.  

Inflation (and Other Changing Economic Realities) 

In early 2023, the average price of eggs was 70% higher than in 2022. While eggs have become the poster child for inflation run amok, many other household expenses have also increased significantly. And taken together, these changes have stressed the financial health of American households and likely contributed toward soaring consumer debt. But by reworking your budget numbers, you may be able to avoid burdensome credit card bills in the future.  

Evolving Long- (and Short-) Term Financial Goals 

As your financial goals change, so too should your budget. If you once thought youd retire in Akron but have now decided you want to spend your golden years in Malibu, you might need to sock more away to make that retirement dream a reality. Rapidly increasing mortgage rates are changing the calculus for would-be home buyers; a budget can help you make adjustments based on shifting economic conditions. Consider your near-, mid- and long-term financial goals as you reassess your resources and needs. 

Changes in Credit Card (and Mortgage, Car Loan) Debt 

If you take on increased debt, whether its a new car payment, mortgage or medical bill, your budget will need to adjust to incorporate those payments. On the other hand, when you pay off a debt, it presents an opportunity to put more money toward paying down other obligations or putting more funds aside toward your retirement or other financial goals. What once was spent chipping away at a credit card balance could now be put toward your vacation fund or building up emergency savings for a rainy day. 

A Budget Is a Living Document 

Establishing a budget that works for you is an important step toward building a healthy financial future and securing your retirement readiness. But it will likely require several updates along the way. A midyear budget check is a great way to make sure your plans stay in step with all your life circumstances. If you need assistance, a financial professional can help you. 



Teaching Kids About Money

Teaching Kids About Money

Understanding the concept and value of money is an important life skill that can help set kids up for financial success long into their adult lives. However, financial education is not always covered extensively in school curriculums. But parents can do a lot to help ensure their children learn important lessons about money early on. 

Fortunately, the learning process does not have to be boring or difficult. In fact, it can be fun and engaging for kids from grade school to high school.  

Make it relatable. A wonderful way to illustrate money concepts to kids is by using real-life examples and situations that are familiar to them. For instance, when grocery shopping, you can explain the importance of comparing prices on boxes of their favorite cereals to help them understand whether Peanuty Puffy Puffs or Choco Cowabunga Crunch is a better bargain.  

Tangible teaching tools. With younger children, it can be especially helpful to use physical objectslike coins, piggy banks, or their own toys to bring financial lessons to life. You could put the actual money in front of different items like a teddy bear and a board game, for example, and ask them which one costs the most or the least.   

Gifts that keep on giving. Allowances, birthday, or holiday gifts can also be a fantastic opportunity to introduce kids to the concept of saving money. Encourage them to put aside some of their gift money to buy something they really want, like a toy or game. Then show them ways they can track their progress and celebrate the achievement with them when they meet their savings goal.  

Learning while earning. For older kids, money earned through an allowance, babysitting, lawn mowing, or part-time job experiences can be a fantastic opportunity for early financial education. And when your child starts bringing home a paycheck, you can teach them about taxes and budgeting.  

Teaching your teens. As your child enters their later teenage years, they may face new financial challenges, like paying for car costs. You can help by teaching them about budgeting for recurring expenses such as gas, insurance, and maintenance when they get their license. And if they are planning on college, you can discuss the importance of managing debt responsibly and the potential long-term financial consequences of carrying student loans. 

Start Early with WellCents Kids and Teens 

Instructing your kids about money can help set them up for a brighter financial future, so begin the conversation early. If you are looking for additional resources, WellCents Kids and WellCents Teens videos, available on YouTube, are an excellent place to start. These informative videos cover topics like budgeting, saving and smart shopping — and are presented in a fun, accessible way. By using these resources, kids can begin to develop important financial skills that can benefit them throughout their lives. 


The Average Cost of Retirement

The Average Cost of Retirement

Many people wonder exactly how much it will cost for them to retire comfortably, and whether they’ll have enough money to do it. That can be a tough question to answer but it’s an important one to get right. Learning about current retirees finances can be a helpful starting point when gauging your own retirement goals. 

According to the Data … 

The U.S. Census Bureau provides information regarding the typical retirement income of Americans. They do this by reporting two types of statistics — mean income and median income. 

Mean income is determined by adding all the annual incomes of retirees and dividing by the total number of retirees. The resulting number is the arithmetic average. However, this value can be greatly influenced by extremely high- or low-income numbers.  

The median is calculated by taking the middle value of all annual incomes of retirees when the values are arranged from low to high. Because a median isnt influenced by those with very high or low incomes, its often regarded as more representative. In 2021, the median annual income of American retirees over the age of 65 was $47,357 — whereas the mean was $73,288.  

Census Bureau data also reflects a downward trend in retirement income as retirees age. 

From ages 65 to 69, the median household income was $60,324; from ages 70 to 74, it shrinks to $53,327. And among retirees over 75, the median income was $37,335. This is in part because as retirees age, they are less likely to be earning any income and are typically spending down savings and investments.  

The census also breaks down data by state. Typical retirement income varies a great deal in terms of where retirees live. The highest reported income is in the District of Columbia ($43,601), and the lowest is found among Indiana residents ($20,521). Cost of living is a primary driver of retirement budget calculations including: 

  • Your lifestyle during retirement (travel, eating out). 
  • Housing costs. 
  • Health care expenses. 
  • The age you elect to start receiving Social Security benefits. 
  • Economic conditions, including inflation at the time you retire. 
  • Financial contributions from your spouse. 

Where to Start? 

One often-cited rule of thumb when it comes to retirement income planning is that many people are expected to need approximately 80% of their pre-retirement income to retire comfortably. That means if you made $100,000 per year pre-retirement, you’d need about $80,000 post-retirement. Thinking about why youll need less is that your income tax obligations are anticipated to be lower, and you won’t have to pay for many job-related expenses. However, it’s important to realize that other costs, especially those related to medical needs, can increase significantly during retirement. 

The Number That Matters Most 

Retirement planning is ultimately a very personal decision-making process that depends on your unique situation and needs. That’s why things like the 80% rule are best regarded as a starting point and not a hard and fast rule. Because so many factors go into retirement planning projected taxes, inflation, cost-of-living increases and much more it can be useful to seek the advice of a qualified financial professional to assist you. In the end, it’s not the average retirement that matters most — it’s your own. 


Are You Underinsured?

Are You Underinsured?

For some, insurance is just one more item on their financial checklist. Whether you mortgage a home, buy a car or start a business, some type of insurance is usually required. But what if, despite paying all your premiums on time, your coverage comes up short when you encounter a loss? 

There are at least three ways you might be underinsured: 

  • Not carrying insurance for new risks as your life circumstances change.  
  • Having a policy with coverage limits that are too low to cover a potential loss. 
  • Failing to notice policy exclusions that dont protect all your assets. 

To avoid finding yourself in one of these situations, its important to understand where your coverage may be insufficient or lacking altogether.  

The Home Valuation Problem 

Prices, especially on homes, can rise and fall dramatically. In most cases, the insurer will pay for damage to your home up to the limit set in the policy. But what if that upper limit is no longer enough to replace your home when prices for materials and labor go up due to inflation or other causes?  

Some policies include extendedor guaranteedreplacement coverage. Its not uncommon to see materials and labor jump in price following a natural disaster that damages multiple homes. Extended coverage will increase the maximum amount the insurer will pay, adding a percentage 20%, for example to the stated policy limit. Guaranteed replacement is just that: You are guaranteed to get enough money to rebuild your home no matter what it costs. Naturally, both options will add to the cost of your premium. 

The Value of Valuables 

The valuation problem also applies to your possessions. For personal property coverage, you can choose between replacement cost and actual cash value. Replacement value means the insurer pays to replace your belongings with new comparable items up to your policy limits. If you lose your home in a fire and you had an older iMac sitting on your desk, youll get enough to purchase a new iMac. However, if you choose the actual cash value option, youll get the current cash value of that computer as determined by the insurer meaning purchase cost minus depreciation, which is going to be less than the cost of a new comparable model.  

Change in Circumstances 

If you previously had no one financially dependent on you and then get married or have a child, you may be underinsured as a family if you have no life insurance to replace your income should something happen to you. Your children or other family members may develop conditions or needs that your existing coverage is insufficient for. Or perhaps there are now grandchildren you want to include as beneficiaries. Think through all the people in your life who you might want to provide for in the event youre no longer around.  

Get Help from an Expert 

As with all things related to insurance, seek out a knowledgeable agent or speak to a financial professional for advice to get the coverage you need at the best price and terms. Be sure to read part two of this discussion, where well examine policy exclusions, protection against lawsuit risk and the importance of understanding your health insurance deductibles.  


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