The Keys to Financial Wellness for Millennials

Getting a job, buying a car, buying a home — all of these milestones are both exciting and at times stressful for young adults just getting started. For many people, these are wonderful goals that help push them forward. But as millennials build their careers, start families and consider their futures, it’s important to remember that true success has little to do with your job title, the type of car that you drive or the size of your house. Success is about having peace of mind.

Getting a job, buying a car, buying a home — all of these milestones are both exciting and at times stressful for young adults just getting started. For many people, these are wonderful goals that help push them forward. But as millennials build their careers, start families and consider their futures, it’s important to remember that true success has little to do with your job title, the type of car that you drive or the size of your house.

Success is about having peace of mind. And you cannot feel successful or have a sense of true accomplishment when you are worried about money. Millennials must be comfortable with their finances to achieve long-term success.

To have peace of mind as well as peace in your finances, you must prepare for and practice the keys to financial wellness:

Invest in yourself

This is about investing in your future by seeking the highest education that you desire intellectually and can afford financially. Your knowledge and education will open doors that would have otherwise remained closed. Education has a major influence on your earning power. It can propel you when the economy is good and sustain you when it’s bad. You can lose your job but not your education.

Save, save, save

The most essential rule of saving is to pay yourself first. You should contribute to your personal savings and your retirement savings with every paycheck. The simplest way to accomplish this goal is through direct deposit. For your personal savings, you can have a set amount deposited into a savings account and then have the balance go into your regular checking account, which is used to pay for your living expenses. By doing this, you are assured that you have emergency savings. For your retirement savings, you should start contributing to a 401(k) or individual retirement account as early as you can. Start contributing in your 20s so you have even more time to take advantage of compound interest (in which your earnings are added to your principal).

Limit your use of credit

Spend your money in a way that minimizes your debt. You should use cash to pay for small-ticket items, those things you can afford to pay for outright. Expensive purchases such as a house, car and furniture understandably might not be bought for cash. But you can still be mindful of your spending habits by asking yourself key questions: Is this a need or a want? If it is a want, can it wait, or is it something that you should purchase immediately? In addition, do some comparative shopping. Be sure that you’re getting the best price for the items you buy — and for the credit you use. Are you receiving the lowest available interest rate on your credit cards? If you’re paying 21% while you could be paying 12%, you are doing yourself a disservice and throwing away your money.

Protect your family financially

If you’ve started a family, be sure that you have adequate life insurance to protect them in the event of your death. This is especially important if you have small children, because you want to provide for their future. Your children’s financial needs will continue, and they’ll need money for their everyday expenses such as housing, clothing and food. You may also want to help ensure opportunities for a brighter future by providing enough money to assist with endeavors such as going to college, buying a car or starting a business.

You can find affordable term life insurance policies. These are basic, no-frills policies with a set duration of coverage, usually up to 30 years. You could also purchase policies for an indefinite term or with additional features. For instance, a whole life policy remains in force until death, but can be significantly more expensive than a policy that lasts for a specific number of years. Talk to your financial advisor and/or insurance agent to determine the type and amount of coverage you need.

Consider homeownership

Owning a home has long been considered a foundation of wealth creation. It’s one of the most important steps you can take toward financial wellness. If you plan on living in an area for over five years and you can afford to buy a home, it’s something you should certainly consider. As a homeowner, you can build equity and take advantage of tax benefits such as mortgage interest and property tax deductions. But homeownership isn’t for everyone. If you prefer flexibility and don’t plan to live in the same place or you don’t want the responsibility of owning a home, it may not be right for you.

Start early

The earlier you establish these practices and pillars of financial security, the more possibilities and freedom you will have later in life. Developing sound financial principles now will ensure that you and your family can weather financial storms and achieve true success.

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Scammers and Criminals Abuse Caller ID

We have been notified that several customers have received calls from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or other groups claiming to be health care affiliated. The Caller ID on these calls make it appear that the calls are from F&M Bank. Here are some tips to avoid these types of scams!

We have been notified that several customers have received calls from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or other groups claiming to be health care affiliated. The Caller ID on these calls make it appear that the calls are from F&M Bank.

Unfortunately, criminals and scammers can assign any number to their caller ID, which can easily confuse consumers and lead to fraud. Local numbers and those using trusted companies (such as F&M Bank) make it more likely the consumer will respond to a scammer’s call.

The NIH wants you to know that they do offer grants for research, but these grants are to researchers and must be applied for. Here are some tips to avoid these types of scams:

  • Hang up if you get a strange call from the government and visit the official (.gov) website for more information.
  • Never give out – or confirm – personal information on a call you receive.
  • Never send money through wires or reloadable cards.
  • Pressure to act immediately is a sure sign of a scam.

Consumers can register a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) online by accessing this site: https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/. Complaints can also be filed with the Federal Communications Commission at https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/.

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Budgeting and Planning for a Master’s Degree

Pursuing a master’s degree is exciting, but it can also be expensive, even after scholarships and financial aid are factored in. If you’ve been burning to hit the books, these tips will make it easier to pay for grad school.

Pursuing a master’s degree is exciting, but it can also be expensive, even after scholarships and financial aid are factored in. If you’ve been burning to hit the books, these tips will make it easier to pay for grad school.

Give yourself time

It’s tough to accumulate the average $30,000 to $40,000 needed for grad school tuition. Allow a year or two to save, budget and plan rather than jumping right in.

Save smart

Establish a grad school fund and commit to depositing a set amount at regular intervals. Some sound education investment choices include:

  • 529 savings plans: Money grows tax-free but must be used for qualified educational expenses.
  • 529 prepaid tuition plans: These tax-free plans allow you to pay tuition in advance to avoid future rate hikes. Money must be used for tuition at the chosen school.
  • Certificates of deposit: These federally insured certificates offer higher returns than traditional savings accounts in return for leaving funds on deposit for a specified term. The money can be used for anything.
  • Savings and money market accounts: This choice offers the most liquidity, but rates tend to be lower than other options. There are no restrictions on how the money can be used.

Take advantage of tax breaks

Once you’re enrolled, Uncle Sam can help in two ways:

  • Lifetime learning credit: This tax credit refunds 20% of qualified educational expenses up to $10,000 for a maximum student benefit of $2,000 annually.
  • Tuition and fees deduction: Deduct up to $4,000 of qualified educational expenses annually.

Boost your cash flow

To create a cash surplus while saving for and attending grad school:

  • Enjoy more home-cooked meals and dine out less frequently.
  • Reduce entertainment expenses by exploring local parks, free concerts and neighborhood sporting events.
  • Sell unwanted items online or at yard sales.
  • Turn hobbies and interests into side income.
  • Shop around for the best deals on insurance, mobile phone, bank accounts and utilities.

If things are still tight, remember that you aren’t limited to choosing between full-time studies or none at all. Attending school part time over a longer period could make budgeting and work-study balance easier.

© Copyright 2017 NerdWallet Inc. All Rights Reserved

 

Fraud Alert: Debit Card Use in the State of Florida

Fraud Alert: Debit Card Use in the State of Florida

FRAUD ALERT – on Friday, beginning around 11:30 am we began getting notifications from our fraud detection system of a small number of our Virginia customers’ cards being used in gas stations and stores in the state of Florida, with confirmations of fraud.

As a precautionary measure, F&M has placed a block that requires the use of your PIN at the following types of merchants in the state of Florida:

  • Inside Gas Stations
  • Big Box Grocery Stores (example: Walmart, Target)
  • Grocery
  • Pharmacy
  • Discount Stores (example: Family Dollar)

A PIN must be used at these merchant types until this matter is resolved.  If you do not know your PIN, please notify the bank and we will order a new PIN to be mailed to the address on file for your account.

Customers who notify the bank that they cannot recall their PIN and are a Kasasa Cash or Kasasa Cash Back Accountholder:  The Bank will pay the higher rate of interest for the statement cycle that ends in August to allow time for delivery of a PIN in the mail.  Customers would be expected to meet their 12 required transactions for the statement cycle that ends in September and there-after to qualify for the higher rate of interest.

We apologize for any inconvenience that this may cause for you, our valued customers.

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Save More When Back-to-School Shopping Online

Shopping for school supplies, electronics and clothing can be a chore — and an expensive one at that.

Families with children in grades K-12 plan to spend an average of $687.72 on back-to-school shopping, about $14 more than last year’s average of $673.57, according to the National Retail Federation. College students and their families plan to spend an average of $969.88, or about $82 more than last year’s $887.71 average.

Here’s a lesson on saving when back-to-school shopping online.

Shopping for school supplies, electronics and clothing can be a chore — and an expensive one at that.

Families with children in grades K-12 plan to spend an average of $687.72 on back-to-school shopping, about $14 more than last year’s average of $673.57, according to the National Retail Federation. College students and their families plan to spend an average of $969.88, or about $82 more than last year’s $887.71 average.

Incentives such as discounts and free shipping make online shopping an attractive option.

“Retailers are trying to cater to everything that will make the consumer happy,” says Ana Serafin Smith, senior director of media relations at the NRF.

Here’s a lesson on saving when back-to-school shopping online.

Go bargain hunting

You wouldn’t want to buy a pack of notebooks only to spot the same item elsewhere for half the cost. Fend off buyer’s remorse by shopping around before you click the “order” button. Google Shopping can help you compare the costs of items on your list between retailers, or find coupons with a browser extension like Honey. Remember to factor shipping costs into the comparison.

Ask for a price match

If you find separate retailers selling an identical item at different prices, or if there’s a discrepancy between the same retailer’s prices in store and online, ask the site with the higher price for a reduction.

Retailers with price-matching policies — including Target, Best Buy and Newegg — will honor a competitor’s lower advertised price or reimburse you the difference on eligible items if you can provide proof of the amount within a specific time frame. At Staples, you’ll get the lower price plus 10% of the difference. Call the retailer’s customer service number for help price matching your online order.

Pursue student discounts

Students — and sometimes parents, faculty and staff — can save or score freebies by shopping on sites with student discounts or promotions. For example, Apple is discounting select Macs by up to $300 and the iPad Pro by up to $20, plus throwing in wireless Beats headphones for free with eligible purchases through Sept. 25. Check other retailers or student discount networks like Unidays for deals on electronics, supplies, clothing and more.

Buy online, pick up in store

If you order back-to-school supplies online and pick them up in store, many retailers will give you free shipping or order discounts, or will send you a coupon for a future purchase. On Walmart’s website, look for items marked “free pick up and discount”: At the time of this writing, we spotted an Acer touchscreen laptop for $251.65 with a $67.93 pickup discount, lowering the price to $183.72.

Rent materials or buy used

Newer isn’t necessarily better, at least not for your wallet. You can save on textbooks, calculators, clothing and other back-to-school staples by renting or buying them used. Explore options and pricing on sites such as Chegg, Amazon and Poshmark.

Bypass sales tax

This year, more than a dozen states are waiving sales tax on eligible back-to-school items — such as clothing, books and laptops under a certain amount — during sales tax holidays. Some areas waive local sales tax, too. These events typically last for a few days in late July or early August, both in stores and online. For example, Ohio and Virginia both offer tax-free weekends Aug. 4-6. If you live in a participating state, consider timing your back-to-school purchases around the holiday, and check the list of tax-exempt items and cost limits first.

You can still strategically time back-to-school purchases if your state doesn’t take part or you miss the window. The shopping season’s peak savings usually last through August into September, closer to the start of the school year.


The article Save More When Back-to-School Shopping Online originally appeared on NerdWallet.

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