Your guide to family events, stories and news in Western Wisconsin.

Set SMART Goals: Make Them Specific and Achievable

Image: TaxCredits.net
Image: TaxCredits.net

When setting goals, consider setting SMART goals – goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based. Goal setting can be applied in schools, businesses, and even your personal life. So, let’s take a closer look at the meaning of each letter of the acronym.

Specific: Clearly spell out what it is you are going to do. This part of the goal-setting process answers the “what,” “where” and “how.”

Measurable: Define specific criteria that can be used to measure your progress toward meeting your goal. Example: Save $500 by July 1.

Achievable: Goals should be challenging, but achievable at the same time.

Relevant: Make your goal relevant and important to you. This part of the goal-setting process answers the “why.”

Time-bound: A specific deadline/time frame should be identified as to create urgency for the goal to be met. This part of the goal-setting process answers the “when.”

Which goal(s) do you want to tackle first? Perhaps it is to save money. AmericaSaves can help you get started with more information about saving for emergencies, retirement, a car and so much more! –Jen Bailey

8 Family Financial To-Do's

Presented by Tim Carlson & Bob Dillon of WESTconsin Investment Advisors.

1. Think about deductions. If you have made a great deal of money in a given year and have the option of postponing a portion of the taxable income until the following year, that may bring some tax savings.

2. Can you maximize your retirement plan contribution at the start of the year? If you can do it, do it early – the sooner you make your contribution, the more interest those assets may earn.

3. Required Minimum Distributions? Retirees over age 70½ must take RMDs from traditional retirement plans. Make sure you are aware of the deadlines.

4. Transaction? Did you (or will you) sell any real property this year? Start a business? Receive a bonus? Sell an investment held outside of a tax-deferred account? These moves may have an impact on your taxes.

5. Charitable gifts? Remember, if you make charitable contributions this year, you may claim the deductions on your return.

6. Mortgage payments? Can you make a January mortgage payment in December, or make a lump sum payment on your balance? If you have a fixed-rate mortgage, a lump sum payment may reduce the loan amount and total interest paid.

7. Life changes? Did you marry or divorce? You may want to change beneficiary designations and/or take look at your insurance coverage. If your last name is changing, you will need a new Social Security card.

8. Do not delay – get it done. Talk with a qualified financial or tax professional.

Tim Carlson may be reached at (800) 924-0022, ext. 7219. Bob Dillon may be reached at (800) 924-0022, ext. 7218.

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2 Easy Ways for Your Kids to Stash Away Money

Does your child have money laying around home?  Remove the temptation of them spending it on unnecessary items and consider utilizing that money to save for their future.

1. Open a Savings Account

Opening a savings account is easy to do and can hold your child’s money in a safe place while at the same time earning them dividends to add to their balance.  You can put money into the savings account at any time for that future vehicle they may want, or to help pay for college or any future needs that may arise.

2. Open a Share Certificate

Opening a Share Certificate will lock your child’s money away for a certain period of time so that they can only have access to that money once the Certificate matures.  It is easy to set up and can earn them higher dividend rates than a regular savings account.  Check with your credit union on how much funds are required to open a Share Certificate – you may be surprised! 

What better ways to put your child’s money away, help secure their future, and teach them about saving money!

4 Steps to Plan Ahead and Save Dough at Dinnertime

With food prices on the rise, saving money at the checkout is becoming a key priority for many families. Simple steps can help cut back on those grocery bills.

1. Coupon First, Plan Second

Creating a meal plan is often everyone’s first step towards saving money. However, skimming through the coupons and sale ads first can help you determine what should be on your meal plan for the week. Build the meal plan based on the sales.

2. Price Match

Thanks to major retailers, price-matching foods saves time and gas because shoppers don’t have to run from store to store. Coupon apps such as Favado can search all area sale ads for your grocery items.

3. No Eating Out

Instead of eating out, create your favorite restaurant dish at home. Look on Pinterest for recipes from some of your favorite eateries, then get the whole family involved in transforming your kitchen into a restaurant.

4. Prepare

Don’t be tempted to swing through a drive-through. Taking a few hours once a week to prepare foods ahead of time (cooking chicken, slicing veggies) can save you time at night when practice runs late.

Save Now or Save Later? 2 Retirement Options

IRA stands for “Individual Retirement Arrangement.” An IRA is a special type of account intended to hold assets for an individual person’s retirement. Individuals may open traditional or Roth IRAs, but what is the difference?

Traditional IRAs usually provide a tax benefit now to the owners. Contributions (deposits) to a traditional IRA may be tax deductible if the individual qualifies. Then, when the money is withdrawn during retirement years, the funds will be reported as income.

Roth IRAs usually provide a tax benefit in the future to owners. Contributions are not usually tax deductible at the time they are made, but most Roth assets can be withdrawn tax-free during retirement years.

A person can have both types of IRAs and also multiple IRA accounts at multiple financial institutions. The important thing to remember is that between any and all IRAs you may have, you may only contribute up to $5,500 per year. If you are age 50 or older you may contribute an additional $1,000 each year. If you have multiple IRAs it is important to keep track of all your deposits to avoid any excess contributions.

Brought to you in part by:

WESTconsin Credit Union »