Like many, you are probably hunkering-down for at least the next 14 days. This could mean you have some extra time on your hand.
To help pass the time, we will deliver an idea each day, directly to your inbox. These simple ideas are meant to help improve you financial health, meet your goals, or just to provide valuable information.
Share for charity! Our 14 Simple Ideas will be posted on our social media channels. Share these posts with friends and family and Trust Point will donate a $1 for each share* to a local food bank in the La Crosse, Eau Claire and Twin Cities communities.
- Avoid scams. COVID-19 has created vulnerabilities and fears for many and criminals have taken advantage of the situation. So many of you are willing to lend a helping hand to others, especially during this turbulent time. Unfortunately, you can’t put your guard down. Make sure to do your due diligence so you don’t fall victim. Get up-to-date information from the Federal Trade Commission’s website to protect yourself and those you care about.
- Update your legacy settings on social networks. Your account may have not have much monetary value, but there is plenty of sentimental value. A “legacy contact” should be a trusted friend or family member who can take control of an account after death. Facebook can be updated in Settings > Account Ownership > Memorialization Settings.
- Sign up for a “My Social Security” account online. Whether you are receiving benefits or not, it is smart to set up your online account now. See your earnings and payments records, estimated benefits, or update address and direct deposit information. Establishing an account early can also prevent someone from establishing a fraudulent account and attempting to receive your hard-earned money. To get started, visit socialsecurity.gov/myaccount
- Get Organized. Not the most exciting idea, but just tackling one drawer, closet or file cabinet can make you feel accomplished. Let us help! For this one, you may not even need to leave your desk (or couch!). Download our Information Organizer from our website to start putting some of the most important parts of your financial life in order.
- Start the money talk with kids. As parents, you have the greatest influence on your children’s money habits. Budgets, paying bills, and saving for a purchase are all good topics. Start with this article on talking to your children about money and then consider these books on Trust Point’s Amazon Idea List. For a more high-tech touch consider mobile apps like RoosterMoney, Count Money, or Allowance+.
- Dream about travel plans. While it may seem like it will be forever until we can travel again, it doesn’t mean you have to stop dreaming or planning! The first place to start is a budget (read this article for travel budget tips). Start with your end travel goal in mind to get financially ready.Don’t Forget Fido – If your pet is as much a part of the family as anyone, consider bringing them on your travel adventure. Websites like BringFido provide information on more than 100,000 places to stay, eat, and play with your four-legged friends.
- Make an annual gift exclusion. You can make an annual tax-free gift of about $15,000 (indexed for inflation) that does not count against your lifetime gift tax exclusion. Using marketable securities as the gifted asset when volatility is high and valuations are down can provide some extra mileage on the gifts made now and as the valuations recover in the future. Each situation is unique, so please contact your relationship manager to discuss your options.
- Consider Informed Delivery. While most of us are home now and can get our mail, that won’t always be to case. Sign-up for Informed Delivery through the US Postal Service. This FREE service provides a daily email with images of the mail that is to be delivered that day. Not only is this helpful for people who are traveling and have asked someone to retrieve their mail for them while they are away, but it could also help to prevent identity theft. This service can be stopped and started at any time and could prevent identity. (BTW – Big thank you to the postal carriers and shipping companies for continuing to ‘deliver’ a sense of normalcy.)
- Update beneficiaries.It happens all too often. During a divorce, one of the individuals forgets to update their beneficiary information. When they pass, their ‘ex’ gets a surprise payday*. Not only is this awkward, but painful and could leave the rest of the family extremely unhappy! It is important that beneficiary designations be completed and reviewed with care to ensure assets go where you wish. Read about the most common beneficiary mistakes to help ensure that the wealth you have worked hard to create is passed to the recipients you actually intend, as tax-efficiently as possible. * Beneficiary designation laws may vary by state. In Minnesota, for example, former spouses listed as beneficiaries are revoked upon divorce. Please consult with your financial partner(s) to ensure the correct beneficiaries are listed
- Organize Your Passwords. Consider a password locker. While the only sure-proof way to maintain a password is to commit it to memory, these password lockers are still a safer alternative to writing the password on a sticky-note and attaching it to the side of your computer monitor. Here are just a few of the more popular password services available:
Last Pass – https://www.lastpass.com/
Speaking of Passwords – make them strong! The number one password still being used today is ‘123456’ followed by the word ‘Password’. Passwords should be difficult and changed frequently. Need help coming up with a complex password? Consider a phrase that you can easily remember. Take the first letter from each word to form a password. Add characters, upper and lowercase, as well as numbers, if required or allowed.
- Review your credit report. You can order it for FREE annually! It is important to know what is out there and stay vigilant to any changes to avoid scams or identity theft. Visit annualcreditreport.com or call 877-322-8228 to get started.
As a matter of fact, turn your scam-radar on high-alert. Fraud schemes are exploiting the coronavirus pandemic. Avoid opening emails, or clicking on attachments or links within emails. Attachments can contain malicious content that can infect your device and steal personal information. Verify the legitimacy of the source before providing any info. Know the red flags – click here to get the guide.
- Learn something new. Now is a great time to learn as there are many FREE online classes being offered on everything from cooking to ukulele or guitar lessons. Yale even has a class designed to help increase happiness and build more productive habits called, “The Science of Well-Being”.Did you know that Trust Point has a FREE Financial Resource Center available on our website all the time?It is has videos, checklists, and interactive tools that are specific to where you are on your financial timeline. The more you know about handling your finances, the better your chances of reaching your goals — whatever they may be. To get started, click to connect and learn.
- Doing good, feels good. Trust Point’s 80+ employees volunteer over 5,000 hours per year at over 100 non-profit organizations in the communities we live and work (see more). Now more than ever these great organizations need our support.We know how generous you are too! Here are some resources to help you maximize your contributions:
- NEW: The CARES Act provides new tax incentives for cash contributions to public charities. Read more…
- Other tax-advantaged ways to give to charitable organizations can be found here.
As always, each situation can be different so we invite you to speak to your tax professional for more information.
- Consider a remodel. Has your kitchen, dining or living room been turned into the new office or at-home school space? As you look around, you may realize you need more room! Or maybe you’re thinking that the carpet, the lights, or the wall colors have seen better days! Read this article to learn about remodeling that pays.
THANK YOU & BONUS IDEA. We made it to the end of our 14 days of simple ideas. This pandemic is far from over, but we hope you found an idea or two to help pass the time. One last idea – reach out and give a virtual hug! An old friend or a distant family member could really use a call or email just to say ‘Hi’.
Trust Point didn’t get to be a 107 yr old company without putting our employees, communities and our clients in the forefront of all we do. We appreciate your continued trust in us. Stay healthy and well – both physically and mentally – during this trying time. And, please reach out to us anytime.