The First to Know Blog

Figuring Out How Much to Allocate to Your 401(k)

November 16th, 2017 Comments Off on Figuring Out How Much to Allocate to Your 401(k)

When your employer offers a 401(k) plan, you have a great opportunity to save for retirement. You’ll want to contribute at least enough to get the full employer match, if your employer offers one. Beyond that, here are some ways to know how much to allocate to your plan. Decide how much you’ll need It helps to first decide how much money you think you’ll need to live on after retirement. You’ll also want to consider other sources of income you may receive, like Social Security benefits. (If you have a partner, it’s good to plan together, but you probably [ read more ]

What Not to Do on Your Facebook Small Business Page

November 2nd, 2017 Comments Off on What Not to Do on Your Facebook Small Business Page

More entrepreneurs are tapping into the world’s largest social media network: There are more than 70 million businesses now on Facebook, up from about 18 million in 2013, according to Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg during a recent investor call. Facebook gives businesses a platform to showcase new products and services, promote specials and provide customer service. But with these benefits comes the potential for mistakes that can damage your brand. Here are five common small-business mistakes to avoid on your Facebook business page. 1.) Don’t post too often Most industries should aim to post no more than once or twice a day to [ read more ]

3 Reasons You Need An Automatic Savings Plan

October 5th, 2017 Comments Off on 3 Reasons You Need An Automatic Savings Plan

“Save money” is a timeless bit of personal finance advice, but actually doing it can be another story. If you need a way to boost your savings and stay consistent with your goals, setting up an automatic funds transfer can help. There are two ways you might do this. You can set up a transfer from your checking to a savings or investment account at your financial institution. Another method can be having a portion of your paycheck directed into a retirement or other account by your employer, if possible. Here’s a closer look into why saving this way might [ read more ]

Mobile Apps Make Depositing Checks a Snap

September 21st, 2017 Comments Off on Mobile Apps Make Depositing Checks a Snap

As routine financial tasks move online, you may have fallen out of the habit of banking at a branch office. If so, receiving a paper check can be a hassle, requiring a special trip just to deposit it. Thankfully, mobile depositing is now widely offered by banks and credit unions, allowing you to put that refund from the cable company or birthday check from your uncle into your account without having to go to a branch. How it works Financial institutions that offer remote depositing generally do so through smartphone apps. Although the procedure can vary, in most cases you [ read more ]

Is Fall the Best Time to Buy a House?

September 7th, 2017 Comments Off on Is Fall the Best Time to Buy a House?

Sometimes it’s smarter to buy certain items according to the season, like sweaters near the end of winter and swimsuits in late summer. But what’s the best season for buying a house? The answer: the fall. As temperatures cool and trees shed their leaves, enough factors break in the buyer’s favor to make it the No. 1 season for homebuying. Here’s why. Less competition Many homebuyers are families who want to minimize a move’s effect on their kids’ schooling. They want them to start at a new school on the first day, not midyear. And so if their spring and summer searching didn’t [ read more ]

How to Plan and Finance Home Improvements

August 24th, 2017 Comments Off on How to Plan and Finance Home Improvements

Once the thrill of becoming a homeowner wears off, reality sets in. Your home is likely to be the biggest single investment you’ll make in your lifetime. If you want to preserve its value over time, that means doing regular maintenance. Know what to expect Mortgage finance company Freddie Mac has a useful checklist to help you plan for regular upkeep, and you should also expect periodically to do larger home improvement projects like replacing the roof. Keep a budget Predicting maintenance costs is tricky, but some experts suggest setting an annual budget of 1% to 4% of your home’s [ read more ]

Are You Financially Healthy?

August 10th, 2017 Comments Off on Are You Financially Healthy?

Traditional financial literacy efforts haven’t been a rousing success. Research from Harvard Business School shows that even Americans who are taught personal finance in school don’t seem to save more or manage credit better than anyone else. That’s why many experts concerned about Americans’ money habits — including regulators such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and financial think tanks such as the Center for Financial Services Innovation — are promoting the concept of financial health. “Financial literacy is really what you know. Financial health is the outcome,” says Rachel Schneider, the center’s  senior vice president. “You might know what [ read more ]

Allowances Don’t Teach Your Kids About Money – You Do

July 20th, 2017 Comments Off on Allowances Don’t Teach Your Kids About Money – You Do

Many parents tell me they feel guilty about allowances. They aren’t consistent about when and how they give their kids money. They wonder if allowances should be tied to chores. Even how they dole out money can be a problem. Cash is easiest, but much of what kids want to buy — downloads of a favorite show, a toy on Amazon, a realm in Minecraft — requires plastic. I’ve used our daughter as a guinea pig to test all kinds of allowance systems and apps, starting when she was just 3. We started with divided piggy banks that had sections [ read more ]

Enjoy Your Summer Vacation — Without Maxing Out Your Credit Cards

July 6th, 2017 Comments Off on Enjoy Your Summer Vacation — Without Maxing Out Your Credit Cards

School is out, and summer is upon us. It’s time to let loose and have some fun. That sounds great in theory, but it can be horrible for our finances if we aren’t careful — especially when it comes to taking summer vacations. For many people, travel is a significant part of their summer budget, but reckless spending while on vacation can wreak havoc on their finances. People often spend more when on vacation, perhaps because they get caught up in the moment or simply because things are more expensive than at home. So what can you do this summer [ read more ]

Making the Most of E-Banking

June 22nd, 2017 Comments Off on Making the Most of E-Banking

If you’re reading this article online, you’re probably at least somewhat tech-savvy. But when it comes to digital banking, you might be missing out on a few time-saving tricks. Here’s how the Internet can help make your financial life easier. Online banking: You don’t have to leave home for everyday transactions, because financial institutions offer a slew of online banking tools. For example, you can set up free online bill pay, review your statements, see when checks clear and more. You can also make transfers between accounts at different financial institutions. E-statements: With so much snail mail, it’s easy to [ read more ]

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