You’ve Graduated, Now What?

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You graduated, now what? Our financial expert, Julie Cole, has some advice to help you get on the right track!

Whether you are joining the working world or getting ready for college, starting out right can save you a lot of headaches down the road. Successful money management begins with setting goals, making a budget, researching  financial matters, finding good financial partners and working your financial plan.

Here is a road map for success:

1. Make a list of your needs and wants (or necessities) versus luxuries. Take some time to prioritize your needs or necessities.

2. Create a monthly budget. Maintaining a car tends to be the largest expense for most young adults. Make sure your budget includes all auto expenses such as oil changes, replacement tires, repairs, insurance, gas and licensing fees.

3. Educate and research the options and tools available to help you reach your goals. Make sure your choice of financial vehicles meets your need. Financial products are designed to satisfy a particular financial need. You use a retirement savings product to saving for retirement, but not to save for college. Shop around for savings and checking accounts at your local credit union or bank. Some banks and credit unions have “special” accounts for young adults or allow you to “piggyback” on your family household account balances to give you specials. Ask for a pre-approved “line of credit” on your checking account to avoid overdraft fees.

4. Start building an emergency fund. Set aside 10% of your income until you have a nest egg. For working individuals you will want to build up a nest egg equal to 3 months of fixed expenses. Fixed expenses are those expenses that you are obligated to pay and don’t stop even if you are out of money. Examples include: your rent payment, car payment and auto insurance.

5. Start building good credit. A great way to do this is by getting a credit card that has a $500 credit limit. Use this credit card exclusively to purchase gas for your car. Pay off the balance each month so you don’t incur any finance charges. After 6 months of paying the balance off, on or before the due date of the payment, you will have established an good credit score.

6. Use shopping lists to help you avoid impulse purchases. It is estimated that impulse buying results in wasting 20% of your money.

7. Ask experts for assistance. Identify people who are successful and smart money managers and see if they will “mentor” you. Find out what things they did to become financially successful.

According to an August 2010 article in the Wall Street Journal, successful small businesses generally have one thing in common. Those owners who wrote a detailed business plan, made an annual budget and had a “small business coach” were 10 times more likely to succeed than those who did not have all of those 3 important elements. Set goals, make a plan, educate yourself and seek quality advice. These few steps will help you avoid many obstacles and set you up for financial success.

2013 Trunk or Treat

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The Cedar Rapids  community enjoyed a second successful Trunk or Treat event this year! More than 160 kids came to the spooktacular event at the wfla parking lot in Cedar Rapids – 40 more than last year.  Sponsored by Western Fraternal Life Association, planned by YELL! CR, and assisted by members from Lodges 13, 262, and 500, the group provided candy and fun from 18 car trunks. Lodge 7 members also treated everyone to apple cider and hot chocolate. The kids were also able to decorate delicious cookies and not one kid passed up the opportunity!

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Dressed as scarecrows, witches, M & M candy, Coca-Cola cans, zombies, and more, wfla members and Home Office employee’s car trunks showed spookiness galore, to the children’s delight. Visitors passing by Sandy and Russ’s (of Lodge 7) car were nearly scared out of their wits by a zombie in a casket  and voices crying for help coming from their car. As kids tried to grab the candy in the casket, a moving head chattered at them. sandi and russ

Spider webs were draped the front of the tree in the circle drive, along with a flying ghost draped from a tree branch. Tombstones were propped against bales of hay in the driveway or shown in member’s trunks. Bats, spiders and ghosts, and orange Halloween lights danced from the raised trunks. Members play their part in making sure the event was fun for the kids.Even pets made the event in thier best costumes.

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Participating kids came as skeletons, ghosts, jesters, princesses, darth vader, spiderman and many other assorted characters.

 

More neighbors decided to venture out close to home, as well as people from around town. Each family lined up at a start table at the circle drive, received goodie bags with wfla literature and toys for kids, proceeded to the refreshment table, and then circulated to each trunk for their treats. Parents commented that they had seen the event advertised on the street signs in front of the building, in the online calendar, or received the postcard invitation. We explained to them that wfla sells life insurance and annuities and does community service, giving its profits back to members and community groups.

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Talking with neighbors and other lodge members was the treat for the employees, in addition to the smiles on the children’s faces. With the second successful year behind us, we are already planning an even better Trunk or Treat next year. Plan now to come next year for another safe and “fright-tastic” time.