Leverage for the Next Generations: How to Build Credit Effectively

According to a study done by Sallie Mae recently, the younger generations, from teens to young adults, are much more likely to make payments by debit card, cash, or mobile transfer (Venmo, Paypal), than by credit card. In fact, only around 50% of them have credit cards at all. This statistic is leaving some analysts, like those at Fortune magazine (Bloomberg) wondering if credit cards will soon go the way of the video store or Toys R Us. But what are some possible reasons for this shift away from debt lending instruments in young adults, and what lessons can they learn to ensure that picking one up doesn’t lead them to further financial struggles?

One of the big reasons that can easily be identified as an answer to the first question is the looming student loan debt floating over most of those adults’ heads. The average student leaving college in 2017 had roughly $28,650 in student loan debt. On top of this, about 11% of outstanding student loans were 90 days or more delinquent or in default. With the risks of this debt compiling and carrying out, students and young people entering the workforce are less concerned about credit scores and more concerned on making sure they can pay their monthly loan amount, on top of any other recurring expenses. However, the one piece of good news coming out of paying these student loans is that by doing so, one can build up significant credit that will help take the place of missing out on credit card payments. While this avenue won’t leave much room to start borrowing to buy discretionary items, making these payments on time and for the right amount will allow young folk to build a strong credit foundation for the future.

In addition to student loans, many other issues impede those looking to get a credit card early. In 2009, the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act set forth a precedent that banks needed to have more stringent policies with which they lend money, including not offering credit cards to anyone under the age of 21 without a co-signer or proof of income. Even if these are available, with little to no credit history available, some will be turned down for credit card offers. However, most companies offer some sort of secured debt instruments at the least which ask for a deposit upfront as a collateral credit limit. These will allow those with low or new credit scores to earn it while keeping the banks/credit card companies from being at risk. One additional method for those who choose not to use these types of cards is simply to be added as an authorized user on a parent’s credit card. While at a slower pace, this can help out a young person get started even if they don’t use it at all.

Additionally, once their credit is established and starts going in the right direction, they must remain diligent to avoid having what they worked for diminished. There are many different factors that go into a person’s score, however following some key principles will be more than enough to continue pushing this score up:

  1. Use 30% max of the allowed total credit line. This 30% rule is used to ensure that one’s spending habits are in-line with how much they can borrow.
  2. Pay all bills on time. Either through setting up auto-pay or keeping a calendar with important payment deadlines written down, this is one of the most important factors.
  3. Continue using the debt instrument. Even if it’s only being used to pay for small monthly charges or gas bills, continuing to use the card will build up credit.
  4. Pay as much as is feasible. The balance set on the card is not nearly as important as the fact that it’s being used. In order to keep interest down (some go as high as 17%!), one should pay off as much of the balance as they can each month. This is especially important since roughly 25% of millennials have carried a credit card debt for over a year!

All in all, younger generations of people have sincere trepidation when it comes to using credit cards or any other item causing them to incur more debt than they’ve already been exposed to through student loans. They’re still fearful, having grown up through the Great Recession, and face several hurdles even if they decide to pursue getting a credit card. However, once they have them, and through loans, they can still build up a reasonable credit score and attain their financial dreams by remaining diligent and following advice like those points listed above. Please let us know if you have any questions on the above information for you, your family, or your friends.

What will be Your Legacy?

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In the last few years, Elise and I have really gotten into our own family histories. Both sides of Elise’s family came from England, one in the 1830s and one at the turn of the century. My family tree is more diverse. I am 25% German, 25% Finnish, 25% Italian, and, I just recently found out, 25% Jewish. My German ancestors came to America in 1855 and the others came at the turn of the century.

As Elise and I looked back at not only the DNA of our forefathers and foremothers, but also the culture, traditions, stories and values passed on to us, we realize what wonderful legacies we have been given. In a way, we’re all standing on the shoulders of our ancestors.

In the past few years, there’s been a huge increase in people exploring their family history. Ancestry.com sold 1.5 million DNA kits a year ago on Black Friday. The DNA test uncovers your origins. And, Ancestry.com and others have huge online databases and have put together family trees that you can review and expand. This search has caused us to again look at our potential legacy and what it will be. Do you wonder what your legacy will be?

Legacy is defined as “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor from the past.” In the simplest terms, it is everything you have worked for in your life. Certainly, that includes money and property, but it’s much more than that. It includes what you have achieved in your work life and your family life, as well as other social relationships and achievements that you ultimately leave behind.

Your estate, on the other hand, is the sum total of everything you own-all of your property (real, tangible and intangible). Your estate requires an “estate plan” to provide for your desired succession of assets, while minimizing taxes and administrative hassles.   If you desire to pass on more than just your assets and transfer your spiritual, intellectual, relational and social capital, you need a “legacy plan.”

The question is not “Will you leave a legacy,” but “What kind of legacy will you leave?” Why not be proactive and intentional in creating your legacy? Why not structure your life in a manner that helps you achieve your purpose and greatest success and safeguards those accomplishments for transfer to future generations? Why not develop and maintain your legacy plan?

If we think of our legacy as a gift, it places an emphasis on the thoughtful, meaningful, and intentional aspects of legacy, as the consequences of what we do will outlive us. What we leave behind is the summation of the choices and actions we make in this life and our spiritual and moral values.

What do you want to leave for your family, the community, your partner or the world? Your legacy can be huge; perhaps a world-changing cause. But it doesn’t need to be a grandiose concept. Instead of wanting to leave a legacy that inspires people to help starving children in the world, you, for example, may relate more with leaving a legacy with your family and friends of how you were kind, accepting and open to others, which might help inspire them to do the same.

A good place to start is to think about the ancestors, mentors and associates whose legacy you admire. What actions can you take to inspire others in the same way?

We encourage you to give some thought to your legacy plan. We’re all creating our legacy every day, whether we realize it or not. And, here at DWM, we’re focused on protecting and enhancing not only your net worth, but your legacy as well.

 

 

Plant the Seed & Let It Grow: How DWM is Helping Emerging Investors

Coming out of college can be a very stressful time for an individual. One goes from the structured and carefree life of being a student to someone bewildered with what is often their first glimpse of responsibility, trying to grab the wheel and get some control on their future. For a lot of recent graduates, it’s not an easy transition.

Having graduated from Carthage College in Wisconsin last May, I understand what some of these sobering realizations feel like. Fortunately, my family relationship with DWM team member, Jenny Coletti, earned me an interview at Detterbeck Wealth Management and, fast forward a few weeks, I’m proud to be a new part of the DWM team!

Even though I majored in mathematics, as a young person fresh out of college, it is extremely daunting on how to get your hands around your financial wherewithal and start planning for your future. DWM is guiding me through that process and in the near future will be doing this for other “emerging investors”!

  • Automated investment management utilizing DWM investment strategies via the Schwab IIP Platform

  • Emerging Investor On-Boarding – Financial assistance geared directly toward an Emerging Investor needs, which could include the following:

    • Budgeting/cash flow planning

    • Debt Management

    • Asset Allocation including assistance with your employer-based plan

    • Assistance with other work benefit options

    • Access to nifty financial tools

    • Educational planning (for those with kids or planning to have them soon)

    • Access to the DWM Emerging Investor Relationship Managers

      • In Charleston: Ginny Wilson & Grant Maddox

      • In Palatine: Me, Jake Rickord!

  • The ability to graduate to DWM’s Total Wealth Management (“TWM”) Platform – the one that our current clients benefit from – when their account value reaches a certain level

This platform can serve many needs, but Brett and Les are very excited about this being a nice spot for children of TWM clients and other select younger people looking to grow their portfolios, where they become their own investor and spread their own wings!

It should be noted that this Emerging Investor program is a different service package than our more sophisticated Total Wealth Management experience. Given that it is geared toward a younger audience, which have different – typically less complicated, but still important – needs, the areas of focus are much different. For example, my recently graduated college friends are more interested in cash flow/budgeting management and making sure that their 401k through work is getting the most bang for the buck, given the employer’s match and investment choices, and less interested in retirement, estate, tax planning, etc. The investment management portfolios are still constructed by the same team at DWM, but do not utilize the more sophisticated alternative investments. Also, from an administrative perspective, reporting is completely handled through the Schwab IIP Client portal – no custom Orion/DWM reports like our TWM clients receive. In fact, with this EI program, everything is on-line and paperless, which to a Millennial sounds fantastic, but may be daunting to the older generations. A co-browsing session between the new EI client and one of our team members can be scheduled to make on-boarding a piece of cake. And whereas this new EI program has many differences from our traditional TWM program, the main theme remains the same: we will help select investors make their money work harder by addressing the unforeseen landmines hidden within their financial plans by equipping them with education, knowledge, tools, and sound advice.

Overall, I am extremely excited to be a part of the DWM family. I’ve learned a great deal and met some great people since joining several weeks ago. I look forward to meeting all of the clients in due time. And I cannot wait to help roll-out this new Emerging Investors platform. We still have plenty of work to do, but stay tuned for the official launch!