Are you doing all you can to assure that your finances are in order? Do you need some help learning tips on safe money-handling to rest assured knowing youâ€™re financially in the right spot? Well, most of us need a little help in that area, so we talked to local finance experts and theyâ€™ve agreed to help. Use their knowledge and a little bit of your own to get your money lined up so you can breathe easy and spend wisely. writers Tom Giffey, Shelby Wodarck editors Tom Giffey and Eric Christenson design Serena Wagner
on the money
top five money tips for young people RCU SPOKEST ER SHELBY WODARCK WANTS YOU TO G E T MO N E Y S M A RT SO YOU CAN HAVE MORE CASH F U N . WORDS: SHELBY WODARCK
PHOTO: ANDREA PAUL S E T H
for your financial institution, get one and use it! The closer in touch you keep with your finances the better you will be at protecting them.
KNOW YOUR B UDGET AND MAKE I T REALISTIC
BUYING A CAR
We all have heard it time and time again: Budgeting this, budgeting that. But what if there actually is something to this? Do you really know what your budget is? How much can you really spend on a night out on the town or at a restaurant? Have you ever taken the time to really map it out? If you were like me, you probably didn’t know how to answer any of this. I kind of had an idea on what I maybe had coming in, but I had no idea what I had going out. How did I solve this problem? By kicking it old school and breaking out the checkbook, that’s how. I simply kept track of my spending in addition to my income. I always thought that I could just do it by memory, but let me ask you this: Can you tell me how much you spent on dinner two Saturdays ago? If not, how are you going to remember an entire month of expenses?! Keep it simple, track your expenses, make a budget, and keep it realistic.
HOUSE H U NT I N G
B E CAREFUL WITH CREDIT C ARDS
Credit cards are an excellent way to build credit history, but you have to be cautious of what you’re doing with them. I know there are many instore credit cards that you can open, and if you are not careful, you can easily max out. There were a few different stores that I personally got in trouble with, and let me tell you, it was not good. Credit cards are awesome if you keep your balances low and pay off the total amounts you have on them each month. If you can’t afford to pay off your credit card each month, you are spending too much and could end up drowning yourself. Credit cards are not an income; they are a line of credit that you have to pay back. This may seem like such an easy concept, but many people seem to get this horribly confused. Be careful with credit cards.
Having a sweet whip has always been an ideal thing. I have never once had a fancy car, but that is because one has never been in my budget. It is really simple people: SHOP AROUND. It is so easy to get swept up in something shiny and fast. But shiny and fast doesn’t mean affordable and fuel-efficient (gas is expensive, always take that into account). Don’t go getting yourself into huge amounts of debt over a shiny car. Check your interest rate and always talk to your financial institution about how to properly fund your ride. You don’t want to take five years to pay off a three-year loan.
STOP SOMEONE ELSE FROM SPENDING YOUR MONEY
Identity theft is a real problem. One big misconception is that identity theft only happens with online purchases. This is inaccurate. If you drop your credit card or debit card, someone can run it at a store and sign as you.
What about your PIN protection? At most locations you can select cancel for credit, or if the purchase is small enough, they don’t have to enter your PIN at all. What is my solution on this? Get smart and prevent the attack from happening. When you go out with your friends, only bring one card that you need. Leave your debit card at home, and bring a credit card with a small limit instead. Be sure to keep an eye on your finances. If you don’t have an app
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So we can’t be homeless, we have to have a roof over our heads. No matter if you are looking for an apartment to rent or looking to buy your first home, there are a few factors that will influence your ability to rent/own. One of the first things you should do is look at what your total monthly payment would be. Are water, electricity, trash removal, snow removal, and other utilities included in your rent? And if you are looking to purchase a home, remember to add these costs on in addition to your mortgage payments. You should be able to find out all of this information from your landlord or get an estimate from your utility company. Once you have figured this out, try to budget it out for six months; this will give you an idea on what you can or can’t afford. Well there you have it. A few tips to make you a bit better educated in the world of finance – helping you get money smart so you can have more cash fun! Shelby Wodarck is the “spokester” for Young & Free Royal, a financial literacy program aimed at people 25 and under, sponsored by Eau Claire-based Royal Credit Union. Learn more at www. youngfreeroyal.com.
on the money
who you gonna call? SORTING OUT THE KIND OF FINAN C I A L P R O F E S S I O N A L YO U N E E D WORDS: TOM G I F F E Y
Confused by all the official-sounding titles that financial pros have? You’re not alone: A few years ago, the Wall Street Journal – which should know a thing or two about finance – identified more than 200 designations for financial professionals. Here are some of the combinations of letters you’ll see in this alphabet soup: AAMS: Accredited Asset Management Specialist AEP: Accredited Estate Planner APMA: Accredited Portfolio Management Advisor CEBS: Certified Employee Benefit Specialist CFA: Chartered Financial Analyst CFP: Certified Financial Planner CFS: Certified Fund Specialist CFU: Chartered Financial Analyst ChFC: Chartered Financial Consultant CIMA: Certified Investment Management Analyst CLTC: Certified Long-Term Care CLU: Charted Life Underwriter CMT: Chartered Market Technician CPA: Certified Public Accountant CPCU: Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter CRPC: Certified Retirement Planning Counselor RIA: Registered Investment Advisor
eed some financial advice, but not sure where to turn? You’re not alone. There are lots of financial advisers with lots of similarsounding titles out there. We talked to a pair of pros who carry different designations about what they do and how the people in their profession can help you. CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER One of the most common professional certifications is that of Certified Financial Planner: There are nearly 73,000 advisers nationwide who get to put “CFP” on their business cards. What does that mean? Certified Financial Planners must meet a series of educational requirements (studying everything from Jones investments to estate planning); they must pass a 10-hour exam; they must have at least three years of experience in financial planning; and they must meet ethical and continuing education requirements. At the most basic level, the CFP label lets clients know that a financial professional has undergone a broadbased educational program, said Al Jones of Jones Financial Consulting in Eau Claire. They don’t just know about investing, but also about saving for
retirement and college education, as well as about estate planning, tax planning, and much more. “It tells a client that someone is serious about financial planning – that they have met a broad baseline level of knowledge,” he said of the CFP title. What the designation doesn’t tell a client is what a specific professional specializes in. Jones, for example, has carved out a niche for himself helping clients who are a few years from retirement. The CFP label also doesn’t tell clients how the adviser is paid. Many CFPs are affiliated with banks or investment firms, and their compensation is tied to what they sell. Others, such as Jones, work on a fee-only basis. This means they are only paid directly by their clients, not through commissions or fees based on selling particular products. Jones suggests that people seeking financial advice should ask questions and find out what a potential adviser’s credentials mean and what kind of specialty they have. “Everyone should find someone who has credentials that are meaningful,” he said. “It’s very much a matter of trying to fit someone to your particular interest and concerns.” ACCREDITED FINANCIAL COUNSELOR Adrian Klenz of Klenz Financial Counseling in Eau Claire carried a different set of letters after his name: AFC, or Accredited Financial Counselor. While “financial counseling” and “financial planning” may seem like synonyms, they’re quite different. While a financial planner typically helps clients with
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investments, retirement planning, and estate matters, a financial counselor tends to work with people facing financial crisis – for example, those who are dealing with debt collectors and may be pondering bankruptcy. While these are often people on the lower end of the economic ladder, that’s not exclusively the case: Klenz said he’s worked with millionKlenz aires who are in over their heads. In many ways, Klenz’s role is an educational one. “Somewhere in the neighborhood of two-thirds of Americans don’t budget,” while about one-third of Americans have debts in collections, he said. Likewise, many people aren’t knowledgeable about how credit works, such as the fact that most negative pieces of information only stay on your credit report for seven years. Klenz’s counseling focuses on clients’ financial behaviors, and he offers budget counseling, credit counseling, and debt negotiation. “I try to get them to a point where they’re able to start investing or to start planning for retirement,” he said of clients. Once they reach this point, he said, they’re often ready to take the next step and seek advice from another kind of financial professional.
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on the money
feeling the financial squeeze I T ’ S N O SURPRISE THAT MOST OF US STRESS OVER MONEY. S O W H AT C A N W E D O A B O U T I T ? WORDS: TOM GIFFEY
ews flash: Money causes stress! As far as headlines go, that’s about as surprising as “Sky appears blue” and “Wisconsin produces cheese.” However, because confronting a problem is the first step to overcoming it, it’s important to examine just how and why finances cause such stress for us. If we do that, we can take steps to reduce our money-related anxiety and begin to move down the road to financial freedom. Let’s consider some stark numbers, gleaned from a survey published earlier this year. Almost nine in 10 Americans surveyed (86 percent, to be precise) “feel stress when it comes to their finances,” according to a poll of more than 1,000 U.S. adults conducted by the Certified
Almost nine in 10 Americans surveyed (86 percent, to be precise) “feel stress when it comes to their finances.”
Financial Planner Board of Standards. These numbers are slightly higher for women (89 percent) and people 18-44 years old (91 percent). Senior citizens are surprisingly relaxed when it comes to money – but only by comparison to younger generations: 78 percent of folks aged 65 and up say they feel financially stressed. So we’ve established that Americans are anxious about money – but what, exactly, does that mean? According to the survey, the No. 1 reason for stress was the big “D.” No, not divorce, but debt: 23 percent of respondents put it at the top of their list of worries. Next came everyday expenses (21 percent), then health costs (14 percent) and retirement (13 percent). For 25 percent of us, this financial stress is continuous. Meanwhile, about half (53 percent) feel the pinch at specific times, including the end of the month (24 percent), the holidays (15 percent), and at tax time (11 percent). If there’s a silver lining in this cloud, it’s this: Only 13 percent of survey respondents “believe their stress definitely hinders their ability to make decisions about their money,” the CFP Board reported. Another 28 percent says the stress sometimes interferes with their decision-making. In other words, while the overwhelming majority of us may sometimes lose sleep about our financial situations, we still believe we have what it takes to make the right choices. And that brings us to the choices we make when our wallets grow thin. Nearly half (48 percent) of Americans
limit spending when they’re financially stressed – which, all things considered, seems a reasonable response. Younger people (i.e., those aged 18-44), however, are more likely to do things to distract themselves from the stress: 21 percent do things such as watching the tube or going shopping (the latter of which may be the thing that got them to the point of anxiety in the first place). So what’s the solution to all this financial fretfulness? Considering that the survey was conducted by the board that certifies financial planners, it’s unsurprising that the proposed stress-relievers are tools of that particular trade. Twenty-seven percent of those who answered said having a financial plan would put their minds at ease; this figure jumped to 35 percent among 18- to 44-year-olds. Another 22 percent said “having more knowledge in certain finance areas, such as investments, insurance, taxes or retirement planning” would lessen their stress; 14 percent cited knowing more about their own finances; while 12 percent said they’d feel better if they had “more time to focus on my finances.” The overall takeaway, it seems, is that
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putting in a little more time and effort
toward tracking our finances can reap big rewards: Not only will we have more money in our pockets, but we’ll likely feel less anxiety. A Web search of financial resources, a trip to the library, or a chat with a trusted financial adviser can be a good start. As Eleanor Blayney, consumer advocate for the CFP Board put it, “A written financial plan ensures a stress-free tomorrow by managing your short- and long-term financial anxieties, and keeping your focus on what is needed to achieve your goals and dreams” – dreams that will be more attainable if you have fewer sleepless nights.
on the money
how to avoid identity theft MILLIONS HAVE THEIR IDENTITIES STOLEN EACH YEAR . D O N ’ T B E O N E O F THE M . COMPILED BY TOM GIFFEY
n a world that becomes more wired, digitized, and depersonalized every day, identity theft never seems further away than the latest headline about a corporate or government data breach. And the
prevalence if ID theft isn’t just media hype: Last year alone, a whopping 17.6 million Americans – that’s 7 percent of U.S. residents 16 and older – were victims of identity theft, according to a September report from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics. If that proportion held true for Wisconsin residents, it means more than 300,000 of us in the Badger State had our identities stolen last year. In all, Americans suffered a cumulative out-of-pocket loss of $6.5 billion last year. While that’s a huge sum, it’s a decline from 2012, when losses were reported at $10.7 billion. It’s also important to note that more than half of identity theft victims reported they were able to clear up the problem in less than a day. While it’s clear that identity theft is a widespread and costly problem, there are steps you can take to avoid it – or to minimize your headaches if it occurs. The Federal Trade Commission offers these tips to fight identity theft. To learn more, go to IdentityTheft.gov.
PROTECT YOUR PERSONAL INFO n Watch your wallet. n Don’t tell people your PIN numbers. n Keep your financial records, Social Security and Medicare cards in a safe place. n Shred papers that have your personal or medical information. n Take mail out of your mailbox ASAP. n Only give your Social Security number if you must. Ask if you can use another kind of identification. n Don’t give your personal information to someone who calls you or emails you. n Use passwords that are not easy to guess (i.e., use numbers and symbols). n Don’t respond to emails or other messages that ask for personal information. n Don’t put personal info on a computer in a public place, like the library. KEEP AN EYE OUT n If you want to know if someone has stolen your identity, read your bills and account statements and watch for things you didn’t buy, withdrawals you didn’t make, unexpected changes of address, or bills that stop coming. n Look at medical statements. You might see charges you don’t recognized. That might mean someone stole you identity. n Get your credit report. You get one free credit report every year from each credit reporting company. Request them by visitingannualcreditreport.com or calling (877) 322-8228. NOTE: This service is free and authorized by federal law; copycat private services may charge you money. If your identity is stolen, follow these steps. 1. CALL THE COMPANIES WHERE YOU KNOW THE FRAUD OCCURRED n Call the fraud department. Explain that someone stole your identity. n Ask them to close or freeze the accounts. Then, no one can add new charges unless you agree. n Change logins, passwords, and PINs for your accounts.
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2. PLACE A FRAUD ALERT AND GET YOUR CREDIT REPORT n Contact one of the three credit bureaus. That company must tell the other two. Equifax.com/CreditReportAssistance (888) 766-0008 Experian.com/fraudalert (888) 397-3742 TransUnion.com/fraud (800) 680-7289 n Get your free credit report right away. (See above.) n Review your reports. Make note of any account of transaction you don’t recognize. This will help you report the theft to the FTC and the police. 3. REPORT IDENTITY THEFT TO THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION n Complete the FTC’s online complaint form at ftc.gov/complaint. Give as many details as you can. The complaint form is not available on mobile devices, but you can call (877) 438-4338 to make your report. n Print and save your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit immediately. Once you leave the page, you won’t be able to get your affidavit. 4. FILE A REPORT WITH LOCAL POLICE Go to your local police department with: n A copy of your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit n A government-issued ID with a photo n Proof of your address (mortgage statement, rental agreement, or utilities bill) n Any other proof you have of the theft (bills, IRS notices, etc.) n The FTC’s Memo to Law Enforcement (available at IdentityTheft.gov n Tell the police someone stole your identity and you need to file a report. If they are reluctant, show them the FTC’s Memo to Law Enforcement. n Ask for a copy of the police report. You’ll need this to complete other steps. n Create your Identity Theft Report by combining your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit with your police report.
t y m t r
on the money
money listings GET TO KNOW YOUR FINANCES BETTER WITH THE HELP OF AREA FINANCIAL COUNSELORS AND PLANNERS FINANCIAL COUNSELORS
0953 • thrivent.com.
This list features just local financial counseling services. If we forgot your service, let us know and we’ll add you next time!
St., Cadott • 289-4948 • email@example.com • cadotttax.com.
Catholic Charities Financial Counseling 448
North Dewey St., Eau Claire • 832-6644 • eauclaire@ cclse.org • cclse.org Offering bankruptcy counseling, debt management, housing counseling, financial stability counseling, and a representative payee program.
FamilyMeans Financial Solutions 2194 East
Ridge Center, Eau Claire • 800-780-2890 • familymeans.org/financial-solutions.html Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) offers tools and education so people can regain financial stability and reduce unmanageable debt, with locations available in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Freund Law 920 S. Farwell St., Ste. 1800, P.O. Box
222, Eau Claire, 54702-0222 • 832-5151 • freundlaw. com Offering bankruptcy, debt relief, and debt collection services for individuals, farmers, and businesses throughout Western and Northern Wisconsin.
Klenz Financial Counseling adrian@klenzfi-
nancialcounseling.com • Find this business on Facebook Klenz Financial Counseling offers individualized counseling and group presentations on personal finance topics.
Western Dairyland Financial Counseling
418 Wisconsin St., Eau Claire 836-7511, toll free at 800-782-1063 • WesternDairyland.org/flip.phtml While Western Dariyland no longer provides financial counseling as a stand-alone program, they still counsel as part of the Work-n-Wheels and the Veteran’s Economic Empowerment Program.
FINANCIAL PLANNERS This list features just local financial planning services. If we forgot your service, let us know and we’ll add you next time!
Ameriprise Financial Services 1740 Brackett
Ave., Eau Claire • 834-7280 // 3625 Gateway Dr., Eau Claire • 832-7715 • ameripriseadvisors.com.
Bernicke & Associates 4813 Keystone Crossing, Eau Claire • 832-1173 • bernicke.com.
Blue Sky Financial Associates - Thrivent Financial 130 S. Barstow St., Eau Claire • (715) 858-
Cadott Tax & Financial Services 345 N. Main
ClifftonLarsonAllen, CLA 3402 Oakwood Mall Dr., Eau Claire • 832-1100 • claconnect.com.
Cornerstone Financial Advisers 1109 W. Ma-
RAI Stone Group 3504 Oakwood Mall Dr., Eau
Terry Krumenauer Financial Group 2889
Raymond James Financial Fries Financial
Travis Breunig, Thrivent Financial 309 Third
Claire • 598-4340 • raistonegroup.com.
Group (an independent firm) 718 Bay St., Chippewa Falls • 720-9605 // 202 N Bridge St., Chippewa Falls • 723-0586 // 4257 Southtowne Dr., Eau Claire • 5142900 • raymondjames.com.
cArthur Ave. suite 3, Eau Claire • 834-5366.
Securities America 821 N. Bridge St., Chippewa
Deborah Becker Insurance & Financial Services Inc. 404 S. Barstow St., Eau Claire • 835-4328
Seeman Tax & Financial LLC 535 Fairfax St.,
Falls • (877) 695-3391 • davidpford.net.
Altoona • (855) 202-2292 • seemanfinancial.com.
Edward Jones 101 N. Farwell St., Suite 201, Eau
Claire • 834-5052 // 419 E. Clairemont Ave., Eau Claire • 833-3986 // 401 Pinnacle Way, suite 104, Eau Claire • 830-3986 // 2741 N. Clairemont Ave., suite B, Eau Claire • 832-5539 • 831-5539 // 4907 Keystone Crossing, Eau Claire • 831-0002 // 4233 Southtowne Dr. suite 3, Eau Claire • 552-1760 // 2411 N. Hillcrest Pkwy suite 8, Eau Claire • 835-3573 // 3610 Oakwood Mall Dr. suite 200 • 835-3807 // 2751 Commercial Blvd suite 2, Chippewa Falls • 723-2117 // 345 Frenette Dr. suite 5, Chippewa Falls • 726-8923 // 706 N. Bridge St., Chippewa Falls • 723-8588 // 16949 County Highway X, Chippewa Falls • 720-8849 // 2029 County Highway I, Chippewa Falls • 720-6105 // 2321 State Highway 25 N. suite 300, Menomonie • 233-0009 // 2303 Schneider Ave. SE suite 110 , Menomonie • 235-2123 // 2521 Broadway St. S, Menomonie • 235-3884 // 2411 Hillcrest Pkwy, Altoona • 835-3573 // 1417 Main St., Bloomer • 568-4301 // 237 W. Lincoln Ave., Fall Creek • 877-1557 // 760 E. Main St., Mondovi • 926-5218 • edwardjones.com.
Hall Financial Group LLC 4319 Jeffers Rd, suite
202, Eau Claire • 514-2526 • info@hallfinancialgroup. com • hallfinancial.com.
Heights Finance 2701 N. Clairemont Ave., Eau Claire • 858-9375.
Keystone Financial 4410 Golf Terr., Eau Claire • 835-6022 • keystonecv.com.
Mainstreet Capital Management 601 S. Farwell St., Eau Claire • 834-9111 • mainstreet.capital@lpl. com • mymainstreetlink.com.
McKinley Money LLC PO Box 1418, Eau Claire,
54702-1418 • 835-2732, or toll free at (800) 954-0740 • mckinleymoney.com.
Northwoods Investment Center 1109 W MacArthur Ave. suite 4, Eau Claire • 832-8340.
t e r
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County Highway I, Chippewa Falls • 720-4900.
Ave. West, Suite C, Durand • (800) 959-8575 • Facebook.com/Travis.Breunig.Thrivent.
Wealth Enhancement Inc. 2125 Brackett Ave., Eau Claire • 835-8800 • DanMarx@WealthEnhancementInc.com • wealthenhancementinc.com.
Wealth Management Group 103 N Bridge St #255, Chippewa Falls • (715) 861-7200 • wealthmanagementgroupllc.net.
Published on May 17, 2016
Published on May 17, 2016
Volume One Magazine's financial special section. Are you doing all you can to assure that your finances are in order? Do you need some help...