Dollars & Sense

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We work hard, and we want to enjoy the fruits of our labor. The temptation can be strong to spend money on extravagances for ourselves and others. But putting money aside for later means investing in our future, and it”s just smart.

Pooling Your Income After Marriage
Recent national research suggests that most people prefer to merge their money when they get married. Other couples keep separate accounts. And some prefer to have a seldom-used joint savings account for needs as they arise.

If you”re anything like most couples in America, you probably fall somewhere in the middle. Every partnership has a different style to managing finances, and the key is to find what works and stick with it, because financial problems can cause major issues in a marriage.

The study showed that the more individuals in a marriage pool their money the more satisfied they will be with the outcome. The research found that pooling money together reinforces the amount of trust a couple has for each other. In the end, like all things in a marriage, a couple must do what works, whether it”s pooling income or keeping it separate. After all, there are more important things in life than where your money goes.

Managing Your Money, From Your Teens to Retirement
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has offered some money management advice that spans all age groups, beginning with teenagers:

Teens: Save money before you”re tempted to spend it. When you get cash for your birthday, from chores, or a job, put 10 percent in a savings account. Also, put spare change to use. When emptying your pockets at the end of the day, put some of the loose change in a jar or container. See how much you save over a month and deposit the whole amount in a savings account at the bank.

Young Adults: In your 20s, you can start saving for long-term goals like a house, owning a business or saving for retirement (it”s a long time off, but it”s never too early). Create a budget for yourself. It”s a good way to see where your money”s going, which can shape the way you spend it in the future. Get started building a good credit score by getting a credit card, spending wisely and paying it on time.

Newlyweds: Before you get married, have a candid talk with each other about your finances. Set short-term and long-term goals. Talk about buying a home. Work through a monthly budget of expenses. Discuss whether or not you”d like to have a joint bank account or keep your earnings separate.

Midlife: In this phase, and we”re talking late 30s to late 50s, you should focus on retirement and your child”s college expenses (if applicable). It”s important to determine how to maximize your income during your remaining working years so you”re well-positioned for retirement. Do this by contributing to IRAs and 401ks. Explore ways to save money for your children. Use a 529 plan or other savings accounts.

After You Retire: If you”ve saved well, it”s time to visit the places you”ve never seen, take up a new hobby, or spend more time with your loved ones. Being successful in retirement means you”ve got to make the most of your income and investments. Have your Social Security benefits, pension, and other include automatically deposited into your account each month. Consider a second career or working part time to boost your retirement income. Be careful with credit cards, and monitor your accounts closely.


When Should I Start Saving For My Child”s Education?
When is the right time to start saving? What are others doing? The results of a recent study by financial services company Sallie Mae found the following:

Of those parents saving for their children to attend college, one third began saving when their child was born. One quarter of them started saving when their young one entered school, and one fifth started putting aside money when their child expressed a desire to one day attend college. Another one fifth of the surveyed group started when they learned about the costs of college from friends or family.

Among the savings vehicles for college the most frequently used are general savings accounts and 529 plans. Most parents use savings accounts such as CDs, checking accounts, investment and retirement accounts, while about one quarter of those surveyed prefer 529 plans.

A majority of parents believe a college education to be valuable, and at least eight in 10 agree that it”s “an investment in their children”s future, a part of the American dream, and that it”s more important now than it used to be.”

For more information about 529 plans visit or to learn about financial aid options, visit

Time to Change Banks?
Closing your bank account and opening a new one is not an easy process.

Transferring direct deposits, automatic bill payments and other transactions from your account are the first steps among many when transitioning from an old account to a new one.

National surveys have found that people not happy with their financial institutions will switch banks for fairly specific reasons. Among them: moving, being forced to pay too much in fees, the need for an additional checking or savings account, the desire to bank with a local or community institution, bad customer service experiences, and the need for better features such as mobile banking and remote deposit.

For the most part, it all comes down to how happy you are with the way you”re treated and whether you feel you”re doing the right thing with your money.

Many banking customers will stick with a bank through thick and thin. But it”s a competitive world, and financial institutions big and small will sometimes step up their services to keep or gain a customer. So, it doesn”t hurt to shop around.