Monthly Archives: February 2014

5 Ways to Start Retirement Planning Before You Turn 30


Retirement is for the birds, right? If you’re not even 30, why should you worry about it? You have student loan debts to pay off, rent or your first mortgage to pay, a tepid job market to navigate and insurance to be worried about. Retirement? You’ll think about that when you’re 40.


If you follow this train of thought, you’re on the wrong train. Retirement planning may be more crucial when you’re younger because it dictates how you approach your finances as a whole for the rest of your life. Remember the 2008 recession? Millions of Americans lost their retirement nest eggs and either had to go back to work or extend their working years.


You don’t want to end up working until you’re 67 or 68, right? Here are five ways you can avoid that fate:


Get a sense of what you need- but please don’t freak out. You need a goal in order to save properly, and there are seemingly endless resources available, at Alpine Bank and online, to help you see what you’ll need for retirement.


Prioritize- before you start funding your retirement, take care of your immediate needs: establish an emergency fund and pay down your debts.


Fund your 401(k)- if your employer offers a 401(k), opt in, especially if there’s a company match involved.


Get your IRA on- no 401(k) option? Try a traditional or Roth IRA. A traditional IRA lets you make tax-free contributions, while money in a Roth IRA grows tax-free.


Chill out- yes, saving and investing in your future early can really pay off. It also takes time for all that to happen, so be patient, don’t stress over each rise and fall and keep your eyes on the prize.


The earlier you save, the more your money gets the benefits of compound interest. You don’t have to start out dumping huge amounts into your account; all that matter is that you start. The Investment and Retirement teams at Alpine Bank can also be a trusted resource for this and other information regarding retirement, so be sure to get in touch with them if you have questions.

10 Ways to (Smartly) Blow Your Tax Refund


Ah, the good old tax refund. It’s like an extra pay day, isn’t it? While it may feel like you’re getting “extra” money, you’re really just getting back what was kept out of your paychecks throughout last year. If you had that money in the first place, you probably would’ve been responsible with it, so it makes sense that you should do the same when you’re refund arrives in your back account or in your mailbox.

Last year, the average tax refund was $2,790, which is a good amount of money for most families. Alpine Bank has come up with 10 ways you can use your chunk of change from Uncle Sam a little wiser this year:

Pay off high interest debt- credit card debt is the main culprit here, with most credit cards having an interest rate of 11-16 percent. That’s debt that stacks up against you quickly.

Start a down payment fund- if you’re looking to purchase your first home or move your family, your tax refund can serve as the foundation for your down payment.

Invest in your retirementany money saved now will grow and be there for you in retirement.

Contribute to your emergency fund- the 2008 recession taught us you can never have enough easily accessible cash saved up.

Seek financial advice- finance books are widely available, and most can be very beneficial. Just make sure you do a little research on the author first.

Make an extra mortgage payment- fun fact: making an extra payment on a $250,000 30-year mortgage with a 5 percent interest rate shortens the mortgage by five years and saves you about $41,000 in interest.

Do good- don’t need the extra money? Make a donation to your favorite charity or community organization instead.

Invest in yourself- your own education is the best investment you can make, especially if you want to increase your earning power.

Do something new- take a cooking class, go wine tasting or find another way to expand your life.

Treat yourself- make sure it’s something you need, and try to buy local to keep money in the local economy.

Your tax refund is your chance to do something productive. Big screen TVs and new tablets are nice, but do they help you achieve your goals? Just something to think about as you await your tax refund this year.