Schooling College Students about Financial Responsibility

Classrooms at universities and colleges across the nation will open for fall semester in the next couple of months. You might have a child, grandchild, niece or nephew who is all set to spend their semester studying, socializing, and living on their own. You have prepared them for college life by teaching them how to grocery shop, prepare simple meals, and do laundry. Often, however, college students head to school with little knowledge about making a budget and managing money.

A National Student Financial Wellness Study, the first of its kind released in 2015 by Ohio State University, showed college students’ biggest worries were not exams or terrible roommates. Their biggest worries revolved around money. A little more than 72% of the students surveyed said they felt stressed about personal finances, monthly expenses, or whether they would be able to pay for college at all.

A 2016 survey found that among college students surveyed, 71% said they learned about money management from their parents. So take a few minutes and sit down with your college student today and share these tips. Your advice could help them not only during their college days but throughout their lives.

Financial Advice for Your College-Bound Students

  1. Help your college student set up necessary accounts. College students likely will need at least checking and savings accounts. Start teaching them good habits now and ask them to research banking institutions that would be convenient for them to get to from campus or their residence.
  2. Establish clear financial responsibilities. Determine who will be responsible for which expenses. If you are planning to take care of bills such as auto and health insurance, or cell service, be clear with your student that he or she is responsible for living expenses including rent, utilities, groceries, and other household costs.
  3. Wean them off your bank accounts. It might be tempting to continue paying your child’s, grandchild’s or niece’s or nephew’s expenses to help them get a strong start, but that does not teach them to be self-sufficient; it is likely to make them more dependent on you.
  4. Decide whether a credit card is appropriate. Credit cards often give college students the most trouble. Credit cards are an effective way to establish early credit history, but it is common for students to run up balances without fully understanding how credit cards work. If your student gets a credit card, be sure they understand how credit cards work and how important it is to pay off the balance every month.
  5. Will your college-bound student work during college? Holding down a part-time job while going to school has plenty of advantages. It helps cover living expenses or it gives them a chunk of money to save each month. It also makes it easier for them to manage money and gain valuable work experience. And finally, it looks great on their resume after they graduate and go looking for a job in their field.

It is never too late to sit down with your college-bound child, grandchild, niece or nephew and talk frankly with them about the importance of being financially responsible.

We are here to help you each step of the way, so please let us know if you have any questions about these tips or the bigger strategies that are helping guide you to your financial future.

 

17 Financial Resolutions for 2017

financial-resolutions-blog-imageAs the end of 2016 approaches, now is the time to start thinking about how you will make 2017 fulfilling and fruitful for you and your loved ones. For more than 4,000 years, many people have celebrated the start of their new year by making promises to change their behavior or improve themselves. And it’s no wonder why: While New Year’s resolutions can be hard to keep, they may also make you more than 10 times more likely to achieve your goals than if you hadn’t made a resolution at all!

So, no matter what you hope to accomplish next year and beyond, here are 17 financial resolutions to help make 2017 healthy, happy, and successful:

1. Create emergency savings

Life is full of unexpected emergencies, and having extra cash on hand can help keep a serious illness, home repair, or other sudden financial need from derailing your finances. Prepare for unpredictable expenses by putting aside six to eight months of expenses in an easily accessible cash-equivalent account.

2. Make a monthly budget and stick to it

Budgets may sound like a lot of unnecessary work, especially if you’re financially comfortable. But if you’re not tracking your spending, you may be surprised by how quickly it adds up — and which expenses are costing you the most. As 2017 begins, set a budget and work on sticking to it for three months. Track your performance and revise the budget, as needed. Don’t aim for perfection; instead, try for incremental improvement.

3. Save more for the future

Creating a disciplined savings strategy is an important way to stay on track for your retirement and other goals. We recommend keeping separate “buckets” of savings for short-, medium-, and long-term goals, and leveraging tax-advantaged accounts where possible. Let us know if you’d like help saving for specific goals so that we can help ensure you have the right strategy for your needs and timeline.

4. Make retirement plan contributions regularly instead of all at once

Even if you’re diligently saving, you may be among the 71% of Americans who haven’t put aside enough money for retirement. One key change you can make is to take advantage of time in the market. Instead of waiting until the last minute to make your annual contributions, give your money more time to grow by making automatic contributions to your accounts every month.

5. Maximize your retirement-plan contributions

Tax-managed retirement accounts are one of the most powerful ways to save for a more comfortable retirement, because they allow you to control your tax liabilities today — while accumulating assets for the future. Make the most of these accounts by contributing as much as you can each tax year. We usually recommend maxing out employer-sponsored plans first to take advantage of any matching contributions your employer may offer. Give us a call if you need help understanding your retirement account options.

6. Pay down high-interest debt

Did you know that 54% of Americans believe they will never pay off their debts? Don’t let high-interest debt keep you from getting ahead financially. If you’re carrying a significant amount of debt, make paying it down a top priority this year. Contact us, and we’ll help you create a strategy for managing your expenses and paying off your debt.

7. Set goals for the future and work with a professional to help you achieve them

From our experience, people who set goals for themselves and create strategies to pursue them are much more likely to see success. We’re here to help you and your family define exactly what you hope to accomplish in 2017 and beyond — and then build a strategy to achieve your objectives.

8. Create a powerful legacy for the world

We believe that a rich life involves more than financial success and a comfortable lifestyle. Whether you want to leave something to your loved ones or support causes you care about, take time to address the legacy you’d like to leave.

9. Review your estate planning and legal documents

Your core legal documents need regular reviews to ensure they keep up with any changes in your life. If a few years have passed since you looked at your documents, dust them off and make sure that they still represent your wishes. And if you seek more guidance on your estate plan, will, or other legal needs, we can connect you to thorough resources and helpful advice.

10. Review the beneficiaries of your financial accounts and insurance policies

As life changes, you need to periodically review and update your account beneficiaries. Since beneficiary provisions are independent of your will or other estate provisions, keeping them current is critical. Contact us for assistance with gathering account documents and making any needed updates.

11. Stay on top of your health

Healthcare is a major expense for most Americans, especially if serious illness strikes. Take steps to protect your wellbeing by building a healthy lifestyle and prioritizing preventive care.

12. Protect your credit and identity

Identity theft and financial fraud are serious threats that can compromise your financial wellbeing. Protect yourself by reviewing financial statements and bills carefully for unauthorized activity. Regularly update your passwords for all financial accounts and always shred any sensitive documents before you dispose of them. Check your credit report for free each year at www.annualcreditreport.com.

13. Review your tax strategies for potential savings

Every dollar you save in taxes is one that you can reinvest in your current lifestyle or future goals. But, recent tax-law updates mean that your tax burden may have changed — or even increased. Give us a call to discuss tax strategies that may help you reduce your tax liabilities.

14. Involve your children and grandchildren in your finances

Fostering financial wisdom is a powerful way to help your children and grandchildren build a solid, stable life — and help ensure you’re able to pass on your values and wealth in the future. Rather than keeping your finances private from your loved ones, we recommend including them in conversations about your goals and priorities. We also invite you to bring them to our next meeting. We’ll help them understand how we work together and what their roles and responsibilities may be in the future.

15. Schedule times to discuss finances with your spouse

If you (or your spouse) rarely get involved in the family finances, now is the time to start. Work together to make financial decisions and make sure that each of you understands the overall game plan for your finances. At minimum, make sure that your spouse knows how to access financial accounts and understands your wishes.

16. Identify your goals for 2017

Determine exactly what you hope to accomplish in 2017. Whether you want to earn more money, go on a wonderful vacation, or spend more time with your family, take a moment now to write down your goals. To increase the odds of achieving these goals, consider sharing them with a friend and providing regular updates on your progress.

17. Keep your financial resolutions

Just 8% of people keep their New Year’s resolutions — but by making your goals simple, specific, and actionable, you can increase your chances of being among this select group. Instead of saying: “I will save more for the future in 2017,” say: “I will contribute $4,500 to my retirement accounts by December 31, 2017,” or “I will pay off $2,000 of credit card debt by April 15.”

As 2016 draws to a close, we would like to once again thank you for the trust and confidence you’ve placed in our firm. We are sincerely grateful for the privilege and opportunity to serve you today and for years to come.

If you have questions about your future or would like some support in keeping your financial resolutions, we are here to help. Please call us any time at 419.425.2400. Together, let’s make 2017 a success!

Footnotes, disclosures, and sources:
These are the views of Hixon Zuercher Capital Management, and should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named representative nor the Investment Advisor gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Please consult your financial advisor for further information.