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The Current

Catch up on the latest news and updates with our quarterly newsletter. 

WINTER 2019

Archives

FALL 2018

SUMMER 2018

SPRING 2018

WINTER 2018

 

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Special Announcements

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Annual Meeting

The 66th membership meeting of RiverFall Credit Union will be held on Tuesday, March 5, 2019 at the Hotel Capstone in the Capstone Ballroom.  A light buffet will be served beginning at 6:00 p.m. followed by the business session and door prizes.   Please exercise your ownership rights by attending the annual meeting and participating in the election of officials. 

The Board of Directors has a Nominating Committee which nominates one person for each vacancy on the Board of Directors and Supervisory Committee.  The Nominating Committee presents the following nominees:  Mr. Neal Guy (Board of Directors); Mr. Jack Gibson (Board of Directors); Mrs. Jackie Hudgins (Supervisory Committee).

Nominations by members to fill vacancies must be made by a written nomination petition.  Written nomination petitions must include the signature along with printed name and account number of (100) members and be submitted to the Nominating Committee.  For qualification, the Nominating Committee must receive petitions making nominations not less than (30) days before the announced date of the annual membership meeting. 

Please send any nominations to: Nominating Committee, Post Office Box 1756, Tuscaloosa, AL 35403.  Special thanks to the members of the Nominating Committee:  Mrs. Jo Russell, Dr. Cynthia Perkins, and Mr. Kelvin Croom.

College Scholarships Available

RCU will award two $2,500 college tuition scholarships to graduating high school seniors this spring.  To be eligible, the student or a member of his or her immediate family must be a member in good standing of the credit union.  Immediate family is considered the mother, father, brother, sister, or grandparent of the student.  Applications will be available on or before January 7th at area high schools and all locations of RiverFall.  No minimum GPA, ACT, or SAT score is required, however, academic performance as well as leadership, community service, and financial need will be considered.  Completed applications must be received in our downtown office located at 2520 6th Street in Tuscaloosa no later than March 8th 2019.   

For additional information or questions regarding RCU scholarships, please contact Susan Hannah at 205.759.1505.

Scholarship Application

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Money Tips & More

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Play it Money-Smart with Your Tax Return

December 30, 2018

Rather than shouting, “Happy New Year’s Day!” we should all start screaming, “Happy Tax Season!” since the start of tax season begins January 1 and runs until April 15.

The number of tax filings that occurs seems to increase with each passing year. As of May 2018, more than 126,040,000 million tax returns were filed for the 2017 tax year. Who knows what that number will be when May 2019 rolls around.

However, no matter how many tax returns are filed, one thing is for sure: many Americans will be sitting and waiting to see just how much of a tax return they will receive this year.

And just what exactly will you do once that check comes in? We have a few suggestions that will help you kick off 2019 in the most financially responsible way possible:

Starting an Emergency Fund

Let’s face it. Life happens. And it seems to happen when we least expect it, which means we are not prepared.

However, establishing an emergency fund can help prepare our finances for an unexpected rainy day.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the next time the car needed work or an appliance broke that you had the money to have it fixed without the financial stress of how you are going to pay for it? An emergency fund can grant you the ability to be less stressed when those mishaps happen.

When you do receive your tax return, consider putting at least $1,000 into an emergency fund to get ahead of that unfortunate turn of events. Believe us, you’ll be glad you did!

Paying Off Debt

Are you tired of carrying your debt with you year after year? We don’t blame you.

Make one of your resolutions for 2019 to be to pay off your debt within the year, and jump-start your goal by putting your tax refund toward the debt that has the highest interest. Then, once that debt is paid off, you can move down the line to so that by December 2019 (if not earlier), your debt balance can be $0. Ah, sweet freedom [from debt]!

Splurging a Little Bit

If you’re not in debt and already have an emergency fund established for your household, there’s no harm in going on a small shopping spree to treat yourself with your tax refund this year.

Just make sure that when you’re indulging a bit, you do so with a clear budget and those 2019 financial goals in mind. Even when spending a little on yourself, you still want to play it smart so that your personal finances continue in the right direction in the New Year.

Are you wanting to save some of your tax refund for a rainy day? Or, perhaps a down payment on a new home? Stop by RiverFall Credit Union to learn about our Member Savings account, which includes membership benefits, no monthly maintenance fee, competitive dividends, digital banking, and more!

Protect Yourself (and Your Money!) from a Cybersecurity Attack

December 30, 2018

When it comes to cybersecurity, we often think, “It won’t happen to me. I’ll be okay.”

However, a cybersecurity attack can – and does – happen to anyone! There is a hacker attack every 39 seconds, resulting in about one out of three Americans being affected each year. While it can happen to you, there are a few key steps you can take to thwart those hacking attempts.

Stay Safe Online

Let’s take a look at some ways you can better protect yourself from a cybersecurity attack in the New Year, starting with:

Recognizing That You Are a Target

It’s important to recognize that you can be a victim of a cybersecurity attack. The moment you think it cannot happen to you is the moment you put yourself at an increased risk of being hacked.

By realizing your risk of a cybersecurity attack, you can have more motivation to protect yourself in the best way possible.

Creating a Better Password

We have all (or are all) guilty of this: using the same password for everything. In addition to using the same password, how many tend to use children’s names, birth dates, old telephone numbers, etc. as a password?

No one blames you, especially since it is easy to remember that type of information. However, the easier it is to remember, the easier it is to hack.

To offset the chances of a hack, try to be more creative when creating passwords. Also, you might want to add in symbols and a strong mix of characters into your password. For added protection, do not share your password with anyone, and definitely do not use it across multiple sites.

Remember, better safe than sorry!

Thinking Before Clicking

We have to give hackers some credit. They tend to be very skilled when it comes to creating emails and texts that appear to be coming from a credible source.

However, if you have even the tiniest inkling that something is off regarding an email or text, do not click on it. Rather, call the organization that it is “supposedly” from to ensure that it is a legit email.

Big hints that an email or text is not from a credible source include lots of misspellings and the return email address not matching the so-called “company” of origin.

Stay on Top of Your Finances

While you can do everything in your power to protect yourself from a cybersecurity attack, sometimes they still occur. This is why it’s absolutely essential to be aware of your finances at all times.

Regularly check your financial statements, and monitor any and all online accounts frequently. If a hacking does occur, you want to catch it at the earliest moment possible to prevent the hacker from doing a large amount of damage to your finances.

At RiverFall Credit Union, we offer Kasasa Protect™, which is our comprehensive protection for 24/7 defense against fraud.  Contact us today to learn more about this offer, as well as other services that can help keep your money safe.

Getting Ahead of the Holiday Cheer

November 30, 2018

In a few weeks, the temps will drop and leaves will cover the ground. Your favorite coffee shop will have eggnog lattes to accompany the pumpkin spice everything. Santa will be at the mall ready to snap photos with the little ones. You’ll break out those tried-and-true furry boots! 

Yep, believe it or not, the holidays are just about here! Get ahead of the holiday cheer with these smart planning tips courtesy of your friends at RiverFall Credit Union:

  •  Santa shouldn’t be the only one making lists

Start jotting down all the loved ones and coworkers you need to buy for, then make a sub-category of folks on that list you have no clue what to get. Whether you do something old-school and handwritten or are super organized with an Excel spreadsheet and accompanying flow chart, simply having a visual will give you an idea of how much shopping awaits this season.

  •  Budget (and check it twice!)

Once you know about how many presents you’re going to be purchasing, you’ll be able to look at your current expenses with that list added to it and figure out a reasonable budget. Maybe consider setting price limits per person (and communicating those to your family in advance of the big holiday gift swap) and sticking to them as you begin ordering presents or loading down carts full of goodies. 

Don’t forget to account for items like gift bags, tape, wrapping paper, and those shiny bows. After all, those decorative, holiday spirit expenses add up, too!

  •  Price shop to find the best possible deal

Since this year you’re not waiting until the last minute, you’ll have the luxury of comparing prices across multiples stores and websites. We love Google Shopping and Biz Rate for easy-to-use price comparison sites. And keep yourself alert to upcoming Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals—those discounts can make the whole experience noticeably merrier.

  •  DIY where you can

Some people simply have it all already. Instead of trying to comb the depths of the internet for something your dear, sweet grandmother won’t toss in her basement, consider getting the kiddos involved for a sweet, handmade gift. From glazed mugs to a simple oven mit painted by the littles ones, nothing captures the creative imagination of youth quite like a hand-crafted keepsake. Not a crafty family? Consider opting for baked goods like brownies, blondies, or even Rice Crispy treats in a cute holiday tin! Practically anyone can appreciate a little sugar during the holiday season!

  •  Create an account just for all the holly jolly shopping

Reach out to one of our friendly team members at RiverFall Credit Union to find out how you can open an account dedicated specifically to saving up for all the season’s shopping. In addition to regular savings, you can open a Christmas Club Account any time and make deposits as often as you’d like! You can also set up automatic, recurring deposits to this account from your savings or checking account. Then, each November, the funds will be deposited into your savings account for your convenience.  

Start saving ahead for all of your holiday season expenses. Stop by any RiverFall location to open your Christmas Club account today!

Protect Yourself This Holiday Season

November 30, 2018

Despite the 90-degree weather, fall is here. That means we have about, oh, 30 seconds before it’s time to get that holiday shopping in full swing! Whether you still like to hit the mall or you’re a connoisseur of click-to-shop, it’s important to know how to protect yourself against would-be hackers! After all, nothing can turn merry-and-bright into a holly jolly disaster quite like debit card fraud.

Make these basic steps habit this shopping season, and you’ll have eliminated one holiday headache (believe us, we wish we could help you avoid having to politely choke down Great Aunt Mildred’s fruit cake):

  •  Check your statement (and often!)

Online banking makes monitoring your accounts easier than ever. Whether on your phone or on your ultra-light laptop, you have the ability to see everything going on in your accounts with just a few simple clicks. If you see anything unusual, contact your financial institution immediately! A big red flag is often a deduction of a few random cents or dollars from a business or location you know you haven’t recently visited. Criminals typically draw out miniscule amounts to make sure your account is active before wreaking havoc on your hard-earned money.

  •  Sign up for email/text alerts ASAP

Alert systems are typically free services in online banking, so why not take advantage? That way, if a large transaction suddenly occurs, you’ll be notified immediately. The sooner you know, the sooner you can put a stop to what may end up being a real drain on your resources.

  •  Be alert to tampering at the ATM

Keep your eyes peeled for signs that your ATM has been messed with. With technology evolving constantly, criminals are able to capture card information with ease—especially when they feel like they know more than you do. Remember, an unusually bulky card slot can be a sure sign of a skimmer at work, while a loose/thick/or spongey pin pad can be indicative of a pin pad overlay resting in wait ready to steal your info (and access to your money). And, finally, remember to remain attentive to what’s going on around you—not just the ATM machine itself. Go with your gut; if something feels “off” (i.e., someone standing too close or trying to distract you), it probably is! Report any peculiarities to your financial institution immediately.

For more information about how to protect your finances just in time for the busy shopping season, reach out to the knowledgeable team at RiverFall Credit Union today!

Financial Planning Month

September 26, 2018

In honor of Financial Planning Month, check out these three tips

October is Financial Planning Month, and the timing couldn’t be better. After all, the holidays are coming and Halloween before that, meaning we’ve got money, tricks, and treats on our minds! In honor of Financial Planning Month, here’s a little advice on how you can start this season off on the right foot (and more money in your pocket):

1. The hustle is real (and the financial perks can be, too)

Everyone has something they’re good at. Whether you have a proclivity toward classic literature, you are adept at explaining things, or you can knit a mean sweater, the trick to having a talent is to find a way to monetize it! Tutor at a local organization like Tutor Doctor or teach a fitness class at one of the area’s gyms. Put those sweaters up on Etsy! And, if you aren’t certain where your lucrative talents lie, take advantage of giving your opinion. That’s right—you can get paid to share your thoughts thanks to various survey sites like Survey Club and Survey Junkie. These sites allow you the ability to make up to $10 per round of short survey questions. Read, click, and watch the money pile up! 

2. Invest now [even if it’s just a little at a time]

“Investing” can feel like a daunting term, but that’s only because we apply huge sums to the notion. It turns out that small, consistent investments done right now almost always win out over a huge investment 10 years from now. After all, we have no way to know where we’ll be in 10 years! In the spirit of a smarter take on living in the present, consider this: If you invest just $100 per month now over 10 years with a 15% return, you’d have $24,770 in 10 years. That’s your investment—doubled! Investment apps like Acorns are a great solution to test the investment waters. This mobile app is free to download and lets you invest as little as a penny at a time. It rounds up your purchases and invests your money when $5 is reached across 7k stocks and bonds, all with a seriously reduced risk. Use that spare change for good instead of letting it sit in between your couch cushions! 

If you’re thinking of investing a bit more to see that long-term growth (remember: no time like now!), check out our investment account options at RiverFall Credit Union.

3. Don’t spend what you don’t have

This is better known as “living within your means.” One of the easiest/hardest financial lessons to learn is not to live off of credit cards. But—that’s a paradox, you might say. Here’s why it’s both easy and hard: In theory it’s super easy NOT to buy the thing you can’t afford at this point in time. You just choose not to buy it. But with credit cards and other debt instruments so readily available to finance your dream car, boat, house, red-bottomed shoes you’ve wanted for forever, etc., you may think, “Why the heck not? I’ll pay it off later!” It’s almost always better in the long run to pay in cash, of course, but should you choose to use a credit card, pay it off in full and ON TIME!

While none of these ideas is going to necessarily make you rich, these tips are a great way to take charge of your financial future without shaking up your life too much. For more money matters, speak to one of our knowledgeable team members in person.

Game Day on a Budget

September 26, 2018

Tailgating on the quad is quintessential Bama. Crimson and white as far as the eye can see. Folks being neighborly, offering up their hot dogs and ice-cold beverages to fellow fans even if they don’t know them from Adam. Enthusiastic “Roll Tides” hollered among every man, woman, and child. Game Day in Tuscaloosa is next-level, but if you’ve got a budget to adhere to, it can be tempting to miss the shenanigans in lieu of a low-key view from your tv at home. Before you decide to miss the tailgate festivities, know that you can cut those football-centric celebratory costs down with these simple steps.

Don’t be a hero!

Even Tua had help from the rest of the Crimson Tide during the National Title game! Rather than trying to take everything on by yourself—round up your home team and delegate. Assign duties to each person: someone takes care of the napkins, cups, plates; someone else is in charge of the drinks; and someone else handles the food. Divide, conquer, and get ready to cheer on the Tide!

Get back to basics

The term “tailgating” comes from the age-old tradition of having a parking lot party from the back of a truck. The old-school way included a truck, a cooler full of thirst-quenching beverages, and easy-to-transport snacks. While you can’t exactly roll a truck up onto the quad, you can take strides to simplify your tailgate setup. Rather than doing a Kardashian tailgate effort with bells, whistles, and big screen TVs, get back to basics with a trusty shade-giving tent, a few chairs, and a table to lay out those tasty treats. And don’t worry about catered food—homemade snacks like your mom’s awesome pimento cheese or your Aunt Pam’s trail mix are great options for quelling a snack attack. Not a cook? Go with the ultimate affordable fan favorite: Publix Fried Chicken. 

Work your legs

Parking on Game Day can take your wallet to new lows. $20, $30, and even $40 may get you a little closer to the stadium, but it won’t do your cashflow any favors! Consider parking further away and then rolling with the Crimson Tide shuttle to get you right up to all the action. Or, turn those football Saturdays into a great way to get your steps up! Park a little further out, save your hard-earned dollars, and maybe even get a little cardio going on Game Day!

Strategize your entertainment

If your tailgate tent is the epicenter for pregame entertainment but you’re looking to save a few bucks, go with simplified, inexpensive options for fun. A deck of cards and/or a package of Solo Cups are cheap, multi-purpose fun facilitators. And before you go rushing out to purchase cornhole boards, ASK AROUND your friend group to see if you can borrow them from a member of your squad. You’re almost guaranteed to know someone who has the beanbag classic, and you can always offer access to your awesome array of snack and drinks in exchange for letting you use the game. After all, Crimson Tide fans ought to stick together!

Really Need That Brand New Car?

September 24, 2018

Do you really need a brand-new car after college?

As we finish up college and lock down our first forays into adulthood with the long-awaited   J O B, we often think of what it’d be like to have some sweet new wheels to accompany our newfound grown-up status. A bunch of our friends have purchased hot, new rides—and I mean, how bad could a low monthly payment really be? 

But here’s the thing: You don’t need that new car. You just want one. Maybe you even deserve one. 

Trust me, you’re better off riding yours until the wheels fall off.

It’s super easy to believe the hype. The people in the commercials look SO happy, and all the technology is pretty enticing. Lane-keeping assist! Sleek digital cockpits that look like they’re from space! Interfaces that allow you to voice-command your car! Still, if you’re current vehicle is running just fine, remember, all of these things will be there (and will probably have improved even more) by the time it’s actually time for you to get a new vehicle. 

Here’s the real deal: The average new car costs $32,086, not including accrued interest at the end of your loan term. For that price tag, you could pay down your student loans, invest it in the stock market for the next 30 years, and turn it into a whopping $559,881.52 at a 10% return OR even use it to purchase your first real estate investment property. That’s right—real estate; as in, a house you can LIVE IN. This is more awesome than a car, truck, or SUV—believe me.

The main point is that if you hold off now on that shiny, new ride, you’ll actually have options to start your path to becoming wealthy, debt-free, or both.

And while all the bells and whistles of a new whip are cool, can we TALK ABOUT the unbelievable amount of depreciation your auto experiences just as soon as your roll off of the car lot feeling that oh-so-temporary rush of pride and new car smell. The endorphin boost AND the new car smell are guaranteed to wear off once you’ve realized you’re locked in to paying that ride off (ahem, that ride you can’t live in) over the next six years. 

When it comes to post-grad purchases, a brand new car simply isn’t a smart move. After all, you can always buy that ride later in life when you are wealthy and the cost isn’t more than your total net worth. Consider the car, truck, or SUV you have now as a smart financial opportunity, treat it right with regular maintenance, and ride it out until the time is really right. 

If you’re interested in starting to make some smart financial decisions right now (like opening a savings or investment account—both with some legit returns later on down the road of life with NO depreciation), reach out to our knowledgeable RiverFall Credit Union team here

It Pays to Give Back to your Local Community

September 24, 2018

In the Tuscaloosa community, we have a tradition of working together—of giving back. Whether it was boots on the ground and hands rebuilding our town after tornadoes ripped through the area in 2011, local charities like Nick’s Kids that bolster the lives of children throughout Alabama and the Southeast, or the West Alabama Food Bank feedings thousands throughout our six surrounding counties, our corner of the world believes in helping one another.

While it feels good to do for others, there are other significant benefits to giving back to the local community. Here are four reasons it really pays to give back: 

  1. Giving back on an individual level—think tutoring someone or volunteering with the Big Brother/Big Sister program—can actually be good for your health. Studies have shown that volunteer work can decrease stress and even help regulate your sleep schedule. In addition, charitable works on this level promote new social interactions and experiences, which can in turn create good vibes all around!
  2. Giving back can be good for business. While the real reason anyone participates in philanthropic endeavors tends to be for the good of the community he/she serves, there are also some tangible benefits to donating your resources to a worthy cause. If you donate enough money—whether as a business or as an individual—you’ll be able to write that donation off when tax time comes around.
  3. Giving back gets your name out there! If you own a small business, partnering with a local charity—as RiverFall Credit Union does each year with Relay For Life fundraising—can be an excellent way to do good for your community while giving yourself some good publicity. Studies show that people prefer to engage with organizations who are dedicated to giving back, so whether it’s your time, resources, or money, it’s beneficial to a wealth of folks to partner up with a local charity for a common good!
  4. Giving back can open up a world of new opportunities for you! As you connect with others during your volunteer efforts, you may discover brand new chances to network, which can open up new avenues to job openings and other career boosts. Looking to make a job change? You can parlay the experience you gain at each volunteer effort into real-world job skills—after all, donating your time to a cause or initiative can certainly be construed as work. In addition, those who volunteer are typically viewed as well-rounded individuals who are invested in the world around them. That makes you an even more attractive candidate for that dream job.

To learn more about RiverFall’s dedication to the local community, watch our video!

Safeguard your credit card while traveling

August 9, 2018

Whether you prefer the lake or the ocean, the mountains or the beach, exploring abroad or in the good ol’ U S of A, vacation getaways are all about relaxing and letting go of that daily hustle and bustle. Still, in the process of getting away from it all, you never want to have your money get away from you! According to creditcards.com, an identity fraud report conducted by Javelin Strategy & Research showed that lost or stolen wallets, checkbooks, credit and debit cards make up for 43 percent of all fraud cases where the individual knew how their information was taken. 

To keep your vacation full of respite and fraud-free, check out these critical tips: 

1. Leave some of those credit cards at home

Not all of your credit cards should accompany you on your summer vacay. You should only bring one or two credit cards, and you should only ever have one on your person when you’re not in your hotel room. This way, you only have to make a single phone call in the event that the single card be lost or stolen. In addition, it’s MUCH easier to keep up with one single card than a bunch of them, and it’s easier to tell when that single card turns up missing versus reaching your hand in your wallet and having to thumb through a large stack of plastic. Traveling light, as they say, is the only way to fly.

2. Keep a close eye on your card

When traveling, it’s important to be even more diligent about where your belongings are at ALL times. Avoid leaving your purse or bag slug off the back of a beach chair or barstool, and keep you wallet tucked deep within your pocket if you aren’t carrying a bag (avoid any peek-outs). While on your vacation, always know where your card is—meaning, keep a visual on even restaurant servers when they take your card to run it for the meal. Credit card skimmers are real and often really stealthy, so your watchful eye can make all the difference. 

3. Stick with credit cards for all vacation purchases

Did you know that debit cards are 1) easier to steal and 2) easier to clone than credit cards? Protections against theft and fraud for credit cards are much more extensive than for debit cards, meaning your funds are much harder to hack into when using a credit card. And if your credit card is jacked, you’re only liable for a $50 max, whereas debit card fraud can result in your being liable for as much as $500 after just two days. What’s worse is that with debit cards, you can be liable FOR EVERYTHING after 60 days of detecting fraudulent activity.

Even if you report the fraud right away, the money you use to pay your bills is in jeopardy if your debit card is stolen, sticking you in a financial bind until the issue is resolved. Nobody wants to suffer the insult of missing a mortgage or car payment on top of the injury of having your personal financial info stolen.

4. Check your account activity often

This is the only way to know whether someone besides yourself is making charges to your card. Even if you can see you card in plain sight, this will help you see if your card was skimmed by one of those number scanning scoundrels. You can check your balance online on a secure network, but always make certain you log off of your online bank account info immediately when you’re finished checking your statement. If you’d prefer, you can always check your balance via a quick telephone call and even hear a list of recent charges to effectively track your spending activity.

5. Utilize those text alerts

Activate text alerts on your credit cards when traveling so that when anything posts on your account, you immediately receive a text message letting you know the activity has occurred. While the phone’s buzzing might be a bit of a nuisance as you globetrot, those mildly inconvenient alerts can save your account big time in the long run.

6. Hotel safes exist for a reason [and a good one!]

If you’re not bringing your credit card with you during your vacation adventures, lock it up in your hotel room safe. If your hotel doesn’t have a safe, it’s probably a clear indication you shouldn’t be leaving your card there!

5 Tips for talking to your kids about money

August 9, 2018

Talking to your kids about money can feel sort of—awkward. In fact, after the “birds and the bees” talk, the money discussion is probably the next toughest talk to have with the kiddos. How much do you divulge? How do you avoid scaring them? What exactly do they need to know? Before you plan out a three-hour Power Point presentation that would put Dave Ramsey to sleep, check out our 5 top tips to talking money with the kids: 

1. Consider your audience.

As your children grow, the level of detail needed when discussing financial insight will change. There’s no need to get into Roth IRA lectures or savings account reviews with your 10-year-old. Simply answer their questions as they arise. You may be surprised by what they already know! The most important aspect of talking money (and really talking about any subject) with your children is to appear willing and open to answering any of their specific questions. Once they notice the floor is open, they’re much more likely to come to you with exactly what’s on their mind.

2. Keep it real.

If you wish you would’ve tucked more money away before heading off to college or you regret buying a brand new car over a used one, let your kids in on the real deal. Instead of burying your financial failures, share them honestly to create a teachable moment. If you ran up some gnarly debt with that Target card back in the day and had some trouble paying it back, tell your child about how that happened and what you could’ve done to prevent it. They’ll appreciate your candidness and learn a valuable lesson about overspending in the process.

3. Talk concepts and good sense rather than actual dollars and cents.

You don’t have to divulge what’s in your bank account or share the figures involved with your monthly bills to get your point across. In fact, rather than overwhelming your child with dollar amounts, be ready to discuss financial concepts like saving money, budgeting, paying down debt, and even philanthropic giving.

Another way to get them in the habit of budgeting can even involve their favorite accessory: their smartphone. Have teens download the EveryDollar app to track their spending habits and see just how far their dollar is actually going. This app will even alert them when they’ve dropped more money than usual on shopping trips or dining out. Practice makes perfect, and the EveryDollar app makes it super easy to see how he/she is spending in real-time. 

4. Create attainable goals the whole family can get in on.

If the whole crew has been itching to get down to Disney for an epic family getaway, make it a family-wide effort to save up for the trip. This doesn’t mean your five-year-old will have to run out and get a job; rather, you can have family meetings to come up with smart ways to reach your goal. Have a money meeting to talk through going out to eat less and then saving those dollars up for the trip. Or perhaps open the floor to your teens to see what creative solutions they can help you come up with. By involving the whole brood, your children will feel serious pride in contributing to an exciting end goal all while honing their critical thinking/problem-solving abilities.

5. Learn together.

It’s ok if you yourself don’t totally “get” Roth IRAs or mutual funds. Again, be real with what you know and don’t know, and make it a point to learn about these more complex elements of the financial world right alongside your kids! Schedule some time with one of our knowledgeable team members to talk through the more nuanced money topics—and bring your teen along for the learning experience! You’ll clock some quality time while learning important financial facts as a family. 

Remember, keep it real and keep it simple! To find more help in discussing money matters with your kiddos, reach out to one of our friendly RiverFall team members today.

Wallet-friendly lunch options in T-town

July 6, 2018

Lunch is designed to be that hour-long break from the daily grind—a time when you can refuel and find a moment of respite from deadlines and conference calls. Though packing your lunch is always the most wallet-conscious option for your midday meal, sometimes you’ve just gotta get out! Before you hit the drive-thru line, consider one of these four tried and true, deeply local lunch options perfect for grabbing a bite without breaking the bank:

1. Pork Sandwich from Archibald’s BBQ - $6.25

Succulent pulled pork on pillowy soft white bread will forever be a Deep South staple. Top that off with Archibald’s spicy bright orange sauce and you’ve got vittles that pack a serious punch!

2. Jalapenos Mexican Grill 3 Tacos - $5.99

Chicken or beef, hard or soft shell—you really can’t go wrong with a tasty trip to any Jalapenos location (T-Town or Northport). Make your Tuesday totally taco-centric with these perfectly seasoned authentic handhelds. Bonus points for excellent service and unlimited chips and salsa.

3. City Café’s 3 Veggies + Meat - $6.30

Long known as the spot for getting an epic omelet and cathead biscuits like yo’ momma makes ‘em, City Café is no slouch when it comes to lunch. You can load up on three homestyle veggies from field peas to fried okra and macaroni salad to French fries and select a from-scratch protein like the practically famous chicken and dumplings or crispy-fried catfish fingers. Fun fact: At City Café, you can count the cobbler of the day as “a veggie” for a truly multi-course meal.

4. Rama Jama Cheeseburger, Fries, and a Coke - $7.58

If you love a good burger as much as you love the Tide, this is the lunch spot for you. While you nosh on the area’s number one burger, you’re surrounded by the number one college football team in the nation’s memorabilia. Juicy burgers and Bama pride is always a winning combo.

Tips for a stress-free wedding budget

July 6, 2018

Establish a stress-free wedding budget with these 3 simple suggestions!

If you’re engaged, you’ve probably been privy to a lot of unsolicited commentary about “how stressful” the planning will be. You’ll likely hear horror stories from brides or grooms who have come before you. All of your “friends” will recant what went wrong with their flowers or how the gluten-free cake was too dry. Here’s some advice for all that naysaying: Tune it out! Moreover, take it from your neighborhood resource for financial advice—a wedding doesn’t have to have so much stressful buildup! With the happiest day of your life before you, you can make the whole thing so much easier on yourself with smart budgeting from the outset. Here are our three tips to keeping the budget side of wedding planning totally painless:

1. Know who’s paying for what up front

While it’s tradition for the bride’s family to pick up the tab for the wedding, there’s no hard and fast rule about who will foot the bill. Have an open discussion about who is going to pay for what right away. For some couples, it may be in the best interest of all involved to have the discussion with each family separately. Keep it productive by determining an initial budget early.

A few helpful guidelines include:

  • Ask both sets of folks to commit a specific dollar amount, and add up those contributions to come up with your budget OR consider asking each set of parents to pay for a particular aspect of the festivities (maybe the bride’s parents pay for the wedding ceremony, but the groom’s people pay for the honeymoon)
  • Decide how much you and your soon-to-be spouse are able to contribute
  • Keep lines of communication open and honest along the way. Talking about money can be tough, but setting realistic expectations and expressing them clearly can take the guesswork out of who’s ponying up for what

2. Know what you need to spend in order to attain your #weddinggoals

Like any major purchase, take time to assess just how much it will cost to have what you want. Depending on your preferences and budget, you’ll want to determine which aspects you’ll splurge (and save) on. According to a study from 2017, the average wedding costs around $33k—before the honeymoon.

Put your mind at ease by planning to allot 5% of your total budget to a “just-in-case” fund. This will be a preemptive strike against any unforeseen costs. From there, know that the biggest expenses for weddings tend to be the reception (at around half the budget being dedicated to the party that celebrates your union!) followed by photography (10-12%), flowers (8-10%), entertainment/music (8-10%), and tuxes/dresses/accessories (8-10%). The rest of the budget will be dedicated to things like the ceremony, stationery, wedding rings, transportation, and even gifts for the wedding party.

Remember, there are always DIY options when it comes to crafting the wedding décor and buying certain things in bulk (think champagne, napkins, etc.) can result in some sweet discounts taken right off the top.

3. Know how much you should save for the big day

As soon as you pop the question (or say yes!), begin allotting as much of your earnings as possible to the wedding fund. Saving 20% of your monthly take-home is typically the optimal goal, and while that figure may seem overwhelming, it is absolute doable with a few simple tweaks to your everyday spending. For instance, swap that Starbucks run for a fresh pot of coffee at home, or ditch the spendy workout classes in lieu of going for a run or locking down a gym membership at a cost-friendly, all-encompassing facility like the local YMCA. Even limiting the amount you drop on lunches each week can impact your ability to save in a major way!

For even more effective options to tuck away money for the big day, consult one of our RiverFall financial experts by calling 205.759.1505 today!

 

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