Would you take on a 30-day challenge to spend money only on necessities such as rent, utilities, and groceries? During a no-spend month, many common activities — including dining out, buying movie or concert tickets, and shopping for clothes — are avoided at all costs.

The idea behind a 30-day challenge is that the time period is just long enough to help change bad habits without seeming intolerable. If frugality isn’t normally your forte, closely scrutinizing your spending could reap hundreds of dollars in savings. More important, it could help identify ways you might be wasting money on a regular basis.

Start by setting a positive goal for the money. Will you use the extra savings to pay down credit card debt or build up your emergency fund?

Here are some other ways to prepare for a successful challenge.

Time it right. Periods that include major holidays, planned vacations from work, and family birthdays are probably not the best for taking on this type of household experiment. On the other hand, it could be ideal to begin the new year with a “fiscal fast.”

Establish rules. Take your fixed expenses (i.e., rent/mortgage, utilities, phone bill, insurance payments) into account when planning your no-spend month. Evaluate your typical monthly discretionary spending to figure out where you can reduce or eliminate your spending for the month.

Plan to break patterns. Fill up your freezer and pantry with groceries and collect ideas for easy homemade meals. Steer clear of your personal spending triggers, which could mean staying off the Internet or waiting until later to meet up with friends who are big spenders.

Seek out free and fun entertainment. You don’t have to stay home for an entire month. Spend the day visiting a public park or beach, or look for free concerts, outdoor movies, art festivals, workshops, and other special events hosted by community groups.

Stay focused. When you get tempted to spend, remember your goal for the money you’ve saved. Keep a record of your progress to have a tangible reminder that your efforts will pay off.

Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2020

We hope all of you are doing well and coping during these unusual times.  We know it adds stress to your life and we do not want to add anymore.  In order to protect our employees, our clients, and our friends, we are instituting the following changes on a temporary basis.  Please keep in mind, we are deemed an essential business, so you will always have access to the funds in your accounts.

  • All in office meetings will now need to take place by phone or video conference.
  • We are still placing trades, making deposits, creating checks and processing other distribution requests.
  • If you normally stop in to pick up a check, or drop off a check, we would like to encourage you to allow us to ACH or debit your account as needed. All other actions need to be by appointment only.
  • You can always access your accounts online via our website.
  • We have always maintained a comprehensive business continuity plan designed to mitigate business disruptions. This plan has now been implemented and many of our staff are working remotely and will continue to do so for the duration of this situation.
  • We hope these procedures do not have to be in place for a long period of time, but we know you understand the reasons they are being implemented and ask for your understanding.

If you have any questions, please contact our office.

Thank you and be well,

The Management
InvesTrust Wealth Management

We know first-hand how important it is to have a trusted and knowledgeable investment and trust advisor. You rely on us for asset preservation, asset growth strategies, long-term financial preparedness, and we take this responsibility seriously. We, in turn, are being guided by the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Oklahoma State Health Department and a number of local health officials.

As the situation continues to evolve, we wanted to share with you some of the steps we are taking to protect our clients and our InvesTrust family.

We’re open for business – Based on guidance we’ve received and increased measures we’ve taken to keep our office and grounds clean and safe, we remain committed to staying open for you.
InvesTrust has always maintained a comprehensive business continuity plan. We have invested in “state of the art” technology that allows us to be fully functional during a work-at-home mandate. These systems are routinely tested to ensure we experience zero business disruption.
For the foreseeable future, we are encouraging all client meetings be conducted via telephone. Your investment and administrative team is prepared to provide you all applicable reporting in advance to ensure your tele-conference meeting meets your service expectations.
We continue to be an agile work environment for our colleagues, creating the safest workspaces that we can, and offering the flexibility they need should they require it.
The InvesTrust family is , well, just that – a family. Our relationship with you is why a message like this is so important to write during ambiguous times. We are committed to serving you in ways that help make life healthier and most meaningful.

Thank you for your trust in us and for allowing InvesTrust to be your advisor.

The Management
InvesTrust Wealth Management

According to a recent survey, 76% of Americans reported having at least one financial regret. Over half of this group said it had to do with savings: 27% didn’t start saving for retirement soon enough, 19% didn’t contribute enough to an emergency fund, and 10% wish they had saved more for college.1

The saving conundrum

What’s preventing Americans from saving more? It’s a confluence of factors: stagnant wages over many years; the high cost of housing and college; meeting everyday expenses for food, utilities, and child care; and squeezing in unpredictable expenses for things like health care, car maintenance, and home repairs. When expenses are too high, people can’t save, and they often must borrow to buy what they need or want, which can lead to a never-ending cycle of debt.

People make financial decisions all the time, and sometimes these decisions don’t pan out as intended. Hindsight is 20/20, of course. Looking back, would you change anything?

Paying too much for housing

Are housing costs straining your budget? A standard lender guideline is to allocate no more than 28% of your income toward housing expenses, including your monthly mortgage payment, real estate taxes, homeowners insurance, and association dues (the “front-end” ratio), and no more than 36% of your income to cover all your monthly debt obligations, including housing expenses plus credit card bills, student loans, car loans, child support, and any other debt that shows on your credit report and requires monthly payments (the “back-end” ratio).

But just because a lender determines how much you can afford to borrow doesn’t mean you should. Why not set your ratios lower? Many things can throw off your ability to pay your monthly mortgage bill down the road — a job loss, one spouse giving up a job to take care of children, an unexpected medical expense, tuition bills for you or your child.

Potential solutions: To lower your housing costs, consider downsizing to a smaller home (or apartment) in the same area, researching and moving to a less expensive town or state, or renting out a portion of your current home. In addition, watch interest rates and refinance when the numbers make sense.

Paying too much for college

Outstanding student debt levels in the United States are off the charts, and it’s not just students who are borrowing. Approximately 15 million student loan borrowers are age 40 and older, and this demographic accounts for almost 40% of all student loan debt.2

Potential solutions: If you have a child in college now, ask the financial aid office about the availability of college-sponsored scholarships for current students, or consider having your child transfer to a less expensive school. If you have a child who is about to go to college, run the net price calculator that’s available on every college’s website to get an estimate of what your out-of-pocket costs will be at that school. Look at state universities or community colleges, which tend to be the most affordable. For any school, understand exactly how much you and/or your child will need to borrow — and what the monthly loan payment will be after graduation — before signing any loan documents.

Paying too much for your car

Automobile prices have grown rapidly in the last decade, and most drivers borrow to pay for their cars, with seven-year loans becoming more common.3 As a result, a growing number of buyers won’t pay off their auto loans before they trade in their cars for a new one, creating a cycle of debt.

Potential solutions: Consider buying a used car instead of a new one, be proactive with maintenance and tuneups, and try to use public transportation when possible to prolong the life of your car. As with your home, watch interest rates and refinance when the numbers make sense.

Keeping up with the Joneses

It’s easy to want what your friends, colleagues, or neighbors have — nice cars, trips, home amenities, memberships — and spend money (and possibly go into debt) to get them. That’s a mistake. Live within your means, not someone else’s.

Potential solutions: Aim to save at least 10% of your current income for retirement and try to set aside a few thousand dollars for an emergency fund (three to six months’ worth of monthly expenses is a common guideline). If you can’t do that, cut back on discretionary items, look for ways to lower your fixed costs, or explore ways to increase your current income.

Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2020

Losing a loved one can be a difficult experience. Despite the emotional trauma involved, you may also be responsible for handling a variety of financial, legal, and administrative tasks. You may find yourself unsure of where to begin and what to do.

However, do not be hasty when settling your loved one’s estate. Important decisions need to be made regarding distributions, which must be made in compliance with the will and applicable laws. Seek an experienced estate planning professional for advice. The following suggestions may provide a roadmap to help you navigate through the process.

Initial tasks

Note: Some of the following tasks may have to be completed by the estate’s personal representative.
•Upon the death of your loved one, call close family members, friends, and clergy first because you’ll need their emotional support.
•Arrange the funeral, burial or cremation, and memorial service. Hopefully, your loved one will have made arrangements ahead of time. Then notify family and friends of the final arrangements and place an obituary in the local paper (often the funeral home will handle this for you).
•Obtain certified copies of the death certificate (again, the funeral home should be able to get copies for you).
•Find and review your family member’s finances, and look for relevant documents such as a will and trusts, deeds and titles to motor vehicles.
•Report the death to Social Security. If your loved one was receiving benefits via direct deposit, request that the bank return funds received for the month of death and thereafter to Social Security. Do not cash any Social Security checks received by mail. Return all checks to Social Security as soon as possible.
•Make a list of assets and debts. Be on the lookout for pension plans, IRA, 401(k), and other retirement plans owned by the deceased, as well as life insurance policies, bank accounts, and investments. Notify those named as beneficiaries of assets such as life insurance and retirement plans.
•Make sure mortgage and insurance payments continue to be made while the estate is being settled.
•Contact all credit card companies and let them know of the death. Cancel all cards unless you’re named on the account and wish to retain the card.

Within 1 to 3 months of death
•File the will with the appropriate probate court. If real estate was owned out of state, file ancillary probate in that state. If there is no will, contact the probate court for instructions or contact a probate attorney for assistance.
•Notify creditors by mail and by placing a notice in the newspaper. Claims must be made within the statute of limitations, which varies from state to state (30 days from actual notice is common). Insist on proof of all claims. Notify heirs named in the will. Often, the probate process will require formal notification to heirs and others named in the will.

Within 6 to 9 months of death
•Federal and/or state estate tax return(s) may need to be filed, usually within nine months of death, although state laws may vary.
•Also, federal and state income taxes are due for the year of death on the normal filing date, unless an extension is requested. If there are trusts, separate income tax returns may be necessary.
•Update your own estate plan if your loved one was a beneficiary or appointed as an agent, trustee, or guardian.

Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2020