When considering a new job or career change, you’ll need to take a hard look at how this will affect your personal finances. Some things to think about and compare, beyond basic salary differences, include:
> Changes in commuting costs and time.
> Benefit packages offered by your current and prospective employers.
> Differences in retirement savings plans.
> Pension vesting requirements if either company has a pension plan
> Job security, seniority and opportunities for advancement.
If you are one of the millions who lost a job during the recent economic downturn, there are strategies that can help reduce the financial pain. Even if you‘re still employed, you may be wise to consider ways you can prepare yourself financially for the possibility of job loss, especially if you sense layoffs may be coming.
> Hard as it may be, try to put aside at least three months’ worth of living expenses.
> Pay down household debt you may be carrying, and avoid incurring any new debt.
> Cut back on your discretionary spending, and defer major purchases if possible.
> Make dental and medical appointments while you still have coverage.
If you lose your job:
> Take advantage of benefits such as state unemployment assistance and employer-provided outplacement services.
> If you get severance pay, try to set aside 35 percent to 40 percent for income taxes.
> Communicate with your creditors to explain your job loss and request reduced payments or an extension of time to pay bills. Contact a BTCU Loan Officer at 1.800.496.2460 to discuss your options.
> Maintain your health insurance coverage through COBRA if that option is available.
> Try not to cash in tax-deferred retirement plan assets to pay living expenses, to avoid taxes and penalties; if you have no other option, withdraw only what is truly needed.
> If you own a home, talk to your mortgage lender. You may be able to arrange a forbearance agreement that enables you to reduce your payments for a set period of time.
From buying an engagement ring to raising a family, marriage requires a new perspective on finances. Questions may arise in a marriage about who should take care of the bills or what type of lifestyle is affordable. Be ready for the change with these helpful resources.
> Take the time to discuss your short-term and longer-term needs and wants. List your goals, prioritize them, and determine the amount that needs to be saved each month to achieve them within a particular timeframe. A good start financial goal is saving at least three months’ worth of living expenses for emergencies.
> Decide how to divide household expenses and who will pay the bills.
> Review each other’s credit report. If a spouse-to-be has a poor credit history, that shouldn’t be a surprise further down the line – and you may be able to improve bad credit more easily working as a team.
> Don’t forget to adjust your tax withholding to reflect your new marital status. Working couples may need to have more tax withheld to cover the higher taxes (though couples with only one earner may see a tax “bonus”).
> Compare the costs and benefits of each spouse’s employee benefits package. Choosing the right combinations of your available choices will have you benefiting from the best of the best in each category.
> Some couples prefer one joint checking account, while others prefer two separate accounts or a combination of separate and joint accounts. You’ll also need to decide if, when and how you want to merge your other financial accounts such as savings and credit cards. Talk with a BTCU Member Service Representative to help you select accounts and services that best fit your needs.
Even the most amicable divorce or separation is likely to result in big financial changes. You’ll need to work with an attorney or a mediator to iron out a complete settlement, but there are ways you can minimize the possible financial fallout and learn how to uncouple your finances.
> Get an accurate financial picture. Some of the records that will be useful to demonstrate who has which financial obligations include: copies of tax returns, bank statements, loan documents, insurance papers, checkbook records, and any outstanding bills.
> Review any existing insurance coverage you have and make adjustments to the coverage – and beneficiaries – as appropriate. If your health insurance coverage is through your spouse, find out how to continue uninterrupted coverage through COBRA if you don’t have other coverage options.
> Be sure to cancel all joint credit cards and get new ones issued in your name only, or your liability for your ex-spouse’s bills will continue. You’ll also want to open a checking account in your name only and close your joint accounts. Call 1.800.496.2460 to get connected with a BTCU Member Service Representative today.
> Revise your will to make sure it reflects your current situation.
> Establish a new financial game plan. What old expenses will disappear and what new ones will arise? What can you afford? What lifestyle adjustments will be necessary?
> Avoid making any major financial decisions right away unless you absolutely have to. If you receive an insurance settlement or other payments, park the money in a Share Certificate or Savings Account until you’re emotionally ready to explore longer-term alternatives.
> Make sure dependents are covered by health insurance. The deceased’s employer can give you details about continuing coverage for up to 36 months under COBRA.
> Checking and savings accounts, credit cards, auto titles, the deed to the family home, and other assets that are in the deceased’s name or jointly held need to be retitled in the survivor’s name. Be prepared to deal with some red tape, such as the need for a death certificate and a signature guarantee from a credit union officer for some documents.
> Don’t pay any large debts incurred by the deceased without consulting a lawyer. You could leave yourself short of cash for living expenses or a financial emergency. These debts are generally handled by the executor of the estate, and creditors can wait until the estate is settled.
> Identify and secure financial resources, such as life insurance policy proceeds, a deceased spouse’s 401(k) plan, and veteran’s benefits. If the deceased person was employed, get in touch with the former employer to ask about any money owed to survivors, such as a final paycheck or vacation and sick leave pay.
> Don’t hesitate to seek professional advice regarding your future financial security. Attorneys can help with estate tax returns and many other issues.
A BTCU Member Service Representative will also be here to help you with decisions whenever you’re ready. Call us at 1.800.496.2460.