Utah

Saving on Sports Spectating

By: Vincent Mortensen

Many of us are a fan of one or more sports.  Personally, I’m a fan of the Denver Broncos, the Memphis Grizzlies, the Utah Jazz, and our mighty Utes football team.  Unfortunately, attending sports events can get a little costly.  Below are a few tips to still enjoy your teams while not destroying your finances:

Check out charity events and “Champion” Tours – These events are usually much cheaper.  Most of these tournament players (ex: in golf) receive most of their revenue from corporate sponsors, thus making the ticket price lower than average.  Jump on this if you have the opportunity.

grizzlies-hockey

Support your Utah Grizzlies for half the cost of a major league team!

Watch minor league teams – The NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, MLS….and the list of professional sports organizations goes on…..get plenty of exposure.  Because of this, they are able to charge higher prices for tickets.  Why not check out a minor league team?  Here in Utah, we have the Salt Lake Bees for baseball and the Utah Grizzlies for hockey.  Check ‘em out!

Go to training camp or pre-season workouts – These are a favorite among “Superfans”.  Not only is it free 95% of the time, you will get an up close and personal view of your favorite players.  It’s a win-win situation in my book.

Share a season ticket with a friend – My brother has done this in the past with his very good friend and really enjoyed the benefits.  He got to see half of the Utah Jazz games in person while not overdoing his budget.  Look into this if you can’t stay away from seeing your team live.

Major league sports can get pricey, but there are ways to find cheaper alternatives if you try enough.  Now get out there and support your team!

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Banks vs. Credit Unions: What’s the Difference?

By: Vincent Mortensen

Some consumers are confused when it comes to banks and credit unions.  There are even some that believe they are the same institution under a different name like Target is different from Walmart.  Both are super stores, but different companies.  This is not the case.

Below is a chart that explains the basic differences between banks and credit unions. 

  Credit Union Bank
Structure Non-profit Institution For-profit Institution
Insurance Up to $250,000 by the NCUA Up to $250,000 by the FDIC

Leadership

 

Volunteer Board of Directors elected by members of the credit union. Paid Board of Directors voted in by stockholders that may or may not be customers of that bank.
Earnings Net income is used to lower interest on loans and higher interest on savings. Stock holders may receive a share of the profits through dividends.
Products Full range of financial products and services. Full range of financial products and services.
Service Delivery Branches, online, ATMs, mobile Branches, online, ATMs, mobile
Fees Low to no fees Fees usually apply

Currently, I keep my money in a credit union and I like it very much.  The loan rates are lower and savings accounts make a little higher interest than commercial banks.  I have also been with a bank in the past and enjoyed their services as well.  Whatever you decide to choose, you now have a better understanding on what your financial institution is all about.  Good luck!

The Top 10 Investor Mistakes

By: Vincent Mortensen

Dow Jones

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) has averaged around a 10% return in the past 100 years.

Lots of people are terrified when it comes to investing in the stock market.  Interestingly enough, the market has averaged about 10% over the past 100 years.  This includes two world wars, numerous recessions, hyperinflation in the 1970’s, the September 11th terrorist attacks, and the housing collapse of 2008.

A study in Ray Levitre’s Book, “20 Retirement Decisions You Need to Make Right Now” shows that in the past 20 years, the average investor had a return of only 1.87% a year (1989 – 2008).  Why is this happening if the market is averaging almost ten times that amount?  Below are the ten most common mistakes investors make that drastically lower their returns.

  1.  Excessive Buying and Selling – Investors that trade frequently more often than not will underperform the market compared to those that simply leave their investments alone.
  2. Information Overload – Studies have shown that investors who are regularly checking how their investments are doing will more likely panic when they go down vs. those who check their investments every few years.  This leads to excessive buying and selling mentioned above.
  3. Market Timing – Many investors find it exciting to guess when the market is going to go up and down.  Unfortunately for them, this is nearly impossible to do.  If an investor was to only miss the 10 best days in the S&P 500 Index fund from 1984 to 2008, they would have returned only 4.10% compared to 7.06%.
  4. Chasing Returns – Many investors are famous for purchasing last year’s winners.  More often than not, last year’s winners will be this year’s busts so be careful.
  5. Believing Persuasive Advertising – In our technology era, companies will do almost anything to get your business, even if they don’t have the best options.  Do your research and find which investments are truly best.
  6. Poor Diversification – Not diversifying properly will raise the risk of losing one’s money.  For example, if an investor had $100,000 Lehman Brothers stock in 2008, their portfolio would have only been worth $820 after all was said and done.  Ouch.
  7. Lack of Patience – Most funds and equities are held for an average of three years.  Remember, investing is a long-term process, so do not panic if you are not doing well.  Look at the big picture.
  8. Not Understanding the Downside – Some investors believe their portfolios will go up, and only up.  They are in for a rude awakening when the market moves into a recession.  After this happens, the investor will tend to sell their stocks and re-enter the market once it’s “safe” again.  This will have dire rate of return consequences. 
  9. Focusing on Minimal Portions of Portfolio – Some investors will be spooked when a small portion of their portfolio is drastically getting beaten.  Because of this, they will sell all of their assets and move to more conservative options (even though the rest of their portfolio is doing quite well).  Once again, look at the big picture. 
  10. Lack of Investment Strategy – If you do not know where you want to go, can you really get there?  Create a great investment strategy to make sure you are as successful as possible.

Buying Sexy Cars the Smart Way

By: Vincent Mortensen

We Americans sure do love our cars.  Many of us are thrilled to purchase the next coolest, best, most awesomeist…. car that rolls off the line.  Who can blame us?  The automobile industry does a great job advertising their product by making them look sleek, sexy, and the key to total happiness.  Oh, and if you drive their car, you’ll meet a lot of beautiful women or good-looking men, too.

What’s the problem, then?  We tend to spend more money than we should on these transportation treasures.  The average car payment in America today is a staggering $475 a month!  That’s a good portion of rent or groceries for some families.  Below are a few tips and tricks to save money finding the correct car for you while still feeling “sleek and sexy.”

  1.  Purchase an automobile that is three to five years old.  Car models are still good-looking and in good shape at this age.  On top of that, you’ll save thousands of dollars purchasing gently used over brand new.  For example, a 2014 Honda Accord STARTS at $22,000 while a 2010 Honda Accord with 30,000 miles averages around $15,000.  That’s a good chunk of change.
  2. Hold on to your car as long as you can.  If you’re currently driving a reliable car that has good gas mileage, keep it until it becomes too costly to fix.  Not only does this save the hassle of purchasing a new ride, your insurance will most likely drop as your car gets older.
  3. Research your purchase before you buy.  Consumer Reports is an excellent source to find out which cars were reliable and which were duds in any given year.  You could save thousands in repairs, insurance, gas, and overall hassle.
  4. Make a large down payment.  Not everyone can purchase a car with cash, but it helps to put as much down as possible.  This lowers the car payment and interest.  Only put as much down as you are financially comfortable doing.
  5. If you’re like me, looking “sleek and sexy” is not an issue.  If you are able to purchase a “clunker” car with cash or not own a car at all, save and use that monthly $475 car payment for other things like a down payment on a home or a much needed vacation to the Bahamas.  The money really adds up over time.

 

I’d like to conclude with a quote from financial guru, Dave Ramsey:  Today, if you decide to live like no-one else, later, you can LIVE like no-one else.

Start Your Goals With SMART Goals

By: Vincent Mortensen

It’s the beginning of a new year and we all know what that means:  time for new year resolutions!  Some of our favorites include lose weight and yes, save money.

Many of us don’t develop the goal of “save money.”  Do you have to save $1 or $1,000 to be satisfied with your goal?  Do you want it to last the entire year or just some of the year?  Is your saving money goal actually possible?  There is a concept that works well if you want to set your financial goal:  SMART goals.  A SMART goal is a clever acronym that contains all parts of creating a successful goal.

Specific – Your goal must be specific.  Saying “I want to save money” is not good enough.  Exactly how much do you want to save and for what purpose?
Measurable – Be sure to have opportunities to see how you are coming along with your goal.  Example:  Save $100 each month.  That way, you can be sure you’re still on track for success.
Attainable – Do you feel you will be able to put the needed amount of time and effort into building your financial goal?
Realistic – If you want to be a millionaire by the end of the year, you’ll have to rob a bank or win the lottery, and both are illegal in our state.  A great rule is saving about 10% of each paycheck.  This should be a good tool to give you a reality check on how much you can truly save.
Time-oriented – So you’ve put a dollar amount on your financial goal, but it’s still not enough.  Create a specific time you would like your goal achieved by.  Many times, if we don’t give ourselves boundaries, we won’t follow through with what we’re trying to accomplish.

Not-so-good goal:  I want to save $500.
Better goal:  I want to save $500 for an apartment deposit within six months by putting away $84 a month.

Saving money isn’t a tough task if we put our mind to it.  Just like any skill in life, we will be lousy at first but will become better with time.  Take some time to create your successful financial goal today.